Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Advocate Turns Pro-Israel

An article by James Kirchick in The Advocate yesterday talks about human rights abuses against gay people in Palestine. First, I felt that it was fantastic, for the topic needs more coverage, and The Advocate rarely cares about anything that's not American or doesn't involve Melissa Ethridge or a shirtless coverboy. But then reality set in, and the artilce is gravely flawed. A quote:
In her Advocate interview Morcos recalls her response to a woman who said that Palestinians are “backward” when it comes to gay rights. Morcos replied, “What is backward? Backward to whom? Are we comparing the Middle East, the Arab community, to the Western world? This is not a fair comparison.”

Why is the comparison not a fair one, she says? “Because you’re comparing our scale to your scale without really taking into consideration if we have our own scale.” This sort of culturally relativistic posturing—talk of “our own scale” in regards to basic human rights that all people deserve, regardless of where they live—is a tool used by individuals like Marcos to take advantage of the guilt complexes of Western liberals. The argument allows her to escape the otherwise obvious point that Israel is light-years ahead of the Palestinians when it comes to gay rights.

That is a great point. But the article takes a huge turn for the worse from there. It point out tragic anti-gay persecution in Palestine, making Israel seem like Eden incarnate. I'm sorry, but Israel is anything but that.

The article never points out the Israeli army's abuse of Palestinian gay people for its intelligence missions, as documented in Queen Hussein or many other places. It never talks about the stabbings at last year's Pride parade. It never discusses that orthodox members of the Knesset hid their faces when Dana International was honored for winning Eurovision. Somehow, all of that flew under the radar.

I agree that Israel is far better than Palestine when it comes to gay rights. But is not the haven that Kirchick protrays. The mere fact that he portrays it as a haven points to obvious pro-Israel bias. I mean, the whole section talking about Israel granting freedom to its minorities made Kirchik look like his nose was irreparably Kosher and brown.

I also agree with many of the statements in the article, including that it is shameful of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission to boycott World Pride. But there is something terribly wrong with Kirchick's article, which stems more from what he deosn't mention than what he does. Due to blind pro-Israel bias, I give the article a C minus.


Blogger arch.memory said...

Al-Fil, thanks for the great continuing effort on this blog. I love the new banner! But I have to admit, I am not crazy about the center justification of the text. It might be well-suited for (some) poems, but I find it very difficult to read prose in it, especially now with the removal of the side-bar and having the text run full-width.

July 13, 2006 5:54 AM  
Blogger mike davis said...

I think it is unfair to put the Palestinians in the some boat, for comparisons on gay matters, as other countries and peoples.

The Palestinians have a long list of serious matters to deal with, as well as attitudes to homosexuality that are age old and common to Judaism and Christianity as well.

Cutting the Palestinians some leeway in this matter can be helpful. One good piece of news is the situation of continued calm and friendly interaction which exists in various venues between Israeli and Palestinian gays.

The best reply to the article in 'Advocate' would be a long letter to them. They would run it; I'd be very surprised if they didn't.

Given all the problems faced by Palestinian gays, I think we should all show them the maximum support and encouragement. Their burdens are a lot heavier than ours.

July 13, 2006 1:24 PM  
Blogger Red Tulips said...

Israel is far from perfect in its treatment of gays. However, it is light years ahead in its treatment of gays, compared to the way gays are treated in the Palestinian territories. That seems to be pretty clear.

Your critcism of Israel's treatment of gays is noted, BUT, what I think is just obvious is that however bad gays have it within Israel, it is a billion times better than in the Palestinian territories.

July 13, 2006 6:56 PM  
Blogger The Chef said...

well why do you think that Palestinians have it bad? Or have a higher poverty rate? Or have trouble accessing clean water? And education?

Right, cuz history and colonization has absolutely NOTHING to play into this. *rolls eyes*. Let's be realistic folks, we can say that Israel, America, England, and all these other lovely colonizing countries are far more ahead in terms of gay rights than Palestinians, but they didn't have to deal with their land being stolen from them, and being continuously humiliated. That article is absolutely ridiculous.

Interesting blog, btw.

July 17, 2006 12:56 AM  

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