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commentary on: http://electronicintifada.net/blog/benjamin-doherty/pinkwashing-2008-2011-obituary-hasbara-strategy

Sarah Schulman’s New York Times op-ed Israel and ‘Pinkwashing’ outs Israel’s gay marketing plan that activists have termed “pinkwashing” and consistently sought to resist and expose.

The basic idea of pinkwashing is to portray Israel as a country that espouses ostensibly Western liberal or progressive democratic values such as feminism, gay rights and multiculturalism. The hope is that this will induce target Western audiences to identify with Israel and thus discount concerns about Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians.

This “Brand Israel” campaign also seeks to portray Israel as an environmentalist and high-tech hub and has become a mainstay of hasbara or pro-Israel propaganda from official and unofficial bodies.

The strategy is implicitly racist and Islamophobic because it often manifests in arguments that Israel is morally superior to Palestinians in particular, and Arabs and Muslims in general, who are portrayed as inherently lacking these “progressive” values.

At its core, pinkwashing is an attempt to change the subject: ‘don’t look at Gaza where we’re besieging 1.6 million people, look over here where we’re having a gay pride parade!’



In her oped, Schulman rightly points to rising European Islamophobia as an enabler of pinkwashing, and the shared concern we presume to be “Muslim homophobia,” a post-9/11 anxiety popularized by The Independent’s Johann Hari among others. It is self-destructive and depraved for gays to endorse these Muslims in any way, because Palestinians “would kill or at least beat them” if leftists, queers and Palestinians were not all fixated on hating Israel, so the reasoning goes.

Pinkwashing was always based on an untenable tension: capitalizing on racist and Islamophobic rhetoric and fears while at the same time trying to appeal to progressive communities that have often, though not always, been allied with and participants in anti-racist struggles. It is the insistence that LGBT people cannot recognize their own interests, build solidarity and set political priorities that is dehumanizing and homophobic.

ED: (Sound familiar???)



Israel defines itself as a Jewish State. It doesn’t occupy, expel or besiege Palestinians because Palestinians are homophobic. It does these things because they’re not Jews and their bodies pollute land that Zionists believe should be inhabited only by Jews.

Moreover, Israelis have LGBT rights first and foremost because they’re recognized as Jews. Whether Israeli queers have rights because it is in the “Jewish culture’s DNA” or because they demanded and fought for these rights, the pinkwashing discourse will need to be replaced by one about nationalism and self-determination at the expense of the indigenous Palestinian population.


I'm a straight cisgendered white male so I speak from a position of privilege on basically all issues of gender and sexuality but I find it extremely problematic that the liberal gay rights movement bases its position on a sort of sexual-essentialism, that gays are "born this way" and "cant help it". It is about as scientific and coherent as race science. Sexuality is behavior, and obviously can be controlled and channeled in many, many different ways. This is clear from history and comparative anthropology. There is no such thing as a "gay" person, nor a "straight" person. These are boundaries peculiar to a given culture, and the antagonisms between them are disciplined by the prime socioeconomic forces of the day: i.e. capitalism.

Pinkwashing demonstrates how this is instrumentalized towards colonial ends.

For me, a coherent and truly democratic sexual rights program would be a complete neutrality on the part of the state. Civil unions and all that. The question I guess that arises from there is that this solution in other contexts simply hands over the reigns of oppression to the (heteronormative?) hierarchy of the market. I would never argue that the state should be hands-off i/r/t racism. What exactly is the difference? I suppose that one really is "born this way" as a person of color, whereas queer behavior, like any sort of act, can be manipulated i/r/t its political contextualization and maybe the abolition of privileging heterosexual marriages explicitly by the state is equivalent to a queer affirmative action.

This is only tangentially relevant to the article I guess but there you go. Words.

#1


thirdplace

babyfinland posted:
Sexuality is behavior, and obviously can be controlled and channeled in many, many different ways. This is clear from history and comparative anthropology. There is no such thing as a "gay" person, nor a "straight" person.

isn't dismissing a phenomenon as non-existent just b/c it is culturally mediated. . . ahistorical? :llama:

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#2


babyfinland

thirdplace posted:

babyfinland posted:
Sexuality is behavior, and obviously can be controlled and channeled in many, many different ways. This is clear from history and comparative anthropology. There is no such thing as a "gay" person, nor a "straight" person.

isn't dismissing a phenomenon as non-existent just b/c it is culturally mediated. . . ahistorical?



i mean in an essentialist way. gender modalities of gay and straight have no universal application

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#3


thirdplace
yea i know i was just bein' a jerk

altho: I would say that various levels of a tendency towards same-sex-attraction are essential to a person, which to me means the fact that any particular culturally channeled expression of that attraction is not essential doesn't really matter.

besides, we protect religion and that's analogous to as your conception of sexual orientation

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#4


gyrofry

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#5


babyfinland

thirdplace posted:
altho: I would say that various levels of a tendency towards same-sex-attraction are essential to a person, which to me means the fact that any particular culturally channeled expression of that attraction is not essential doesn't really matter.



how is that different than essentialism?

thirdplace posted:
besides, we protect religion and that's analogous to as your conception of sexual orientation



governmental secularity is there to protect religion from being corrupted by state power (and to extend that concept past bourgeois notions, you could include capitalist power). do civil unions do this for our sexual lives?

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#6


tpaine
wow nice, naming a pro-israel movement after the coloration caused by zyklon gas poisoning. what's next with fucking place.

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#7


discipline
you are arguing that your marginalized identity is only based off how other people treat you, which is why you can "present" differently or be in the "closet" if you are queer but not so much if you are a person of color, and I agree with this. of course people should enjoy equal protection under the law but there is a big difference between wearing your sexuality on your sleeve and having a different color of skin in how people will assess that. jasbir puar once again is a great read for this.

I guess the dissidence comes in when a state like israel, with such a schizophrenic view of their own national identity (yes you are jewish if you were born jewish and don't practice or even believe in it but also if you converted but only if a certain authority says you are heart felt about it!) tries to embrace sexuality/gender issues with the same kind of schizophrenia.

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#8


gruntstein
I have often noted a major issue with the strictly postmodernist, social-constructionist, human-nature-denying beliefs of most on the left as they relate to sexuality and gender issues. Many leftists would deny that a violent criminal was born that way; his behavior assuredly was a product of poverty and abuse. It is also denied that women would naturally be more connected to their children than men, or that indeed any aspect of their thought processes would be different from a man's; this too is a social construction. Behaviors such as homophobia, racism, greed, intellectual ability, and child abuse are also claimed to not be inherent but entirely imposed from without.

On the other hand we see complete essentialism as it relates to sexuality and especially to gender; sexual orientation is an inborn behavior, decided in the womb and immutable. Behavior can be repressed or suppressed but its root can never be expunged. A person is a woman if they decide that they are, regardless of the fact that they do not have the anatomy, physiology, or genetics of a woman, were never socialized as a woman, have spent an effectively zero amount of time as a woman, and are not regarded as a woman by the vast majority of society. They are a Platonic Female.

One could certainly hold one opinion or another. I personally believe that people have inherent traits as a result of their species, their specific genetics, their congenital development, and their neurology. Sexual orientation is among these, and I do believe that it is an inborn behavior. One could also decide that no behaviors are mainly determined by physical factors. But it cannot reasonably be held both ways. If someone was born gay, then someone else was born bad. How else could it be otherwise?

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#9


thirdplace
the whole essentialism debate as it relates to sexuality or gender strikes me as alternatively archaic or irrelevant to this context. it's used in traditionalist paradigms ("sure it's evil but they can't help it") that aren't supported outside that tradition, and as a justification for overruling private rights of property and contract (i.e., in employment contexts) that I for one don't give a fuck about. in other words, even if it were an entirely free choice, who cares if people choose to be homosexual or transgender or whatever? maybe when the essentialism is used as a rhetorical shield, but the only time i've ever seen that matter is on internet forums populated by ~sexist transwomen

like, in this case (ignoring for the sake of argument that it is mostly being used to distract attention from ultimately larger crimes) are you really prepared to argue that islamic states shouldn't be criticized for criminalizing homosexual behavior so long as it isn't innate? or, more particularly, make an argument that an atheist can take seriously?

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#10


DRUXXX
WOw, three straight posts of pure transphobia. Guess this is still LF!

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#11


tpaine

DRUXXX posted:
WOw, three straight posts of pure transphobia. Guess this is still LF!


i lost count of the catchphrases from the last week, but WOW. a nice contender along with Amphetamines Lady and Met You in Ramallah

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#12


gyrofry
Some are born gay, some achieve gayness and some have gayness thrust upon them

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#13


tpaine
Eight users making themselves known as vile transphobes. Forum loses poster privileges for until I die.

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#14


getfiscal

gyrofry posted:
Some are born gay, some achieve gayness and some have gayness thrust upon them

weird i only can upvote this once

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#15


DRUXXX
Seriously if my profound desire to be a lady isn't enough to convince you to see me and maybe even love me and know that i am as much of a woman as khamsek, impper, or any of the other female posts then you are disgusting heternormative trash and you should be banned

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#16


gruntstein

DRUXXX posted:
Seriously if my profound desire to be a lady isn't enough to convince you to see me and maybe even love me and know that i am as much of a woman as khamsek, impper, or any of the other female posts then you are disgusting heternormative trash and you should be banned



i have no particular interest in getting into a transdebate but basic reason should tell you that a simple desire to be something does not make a person that thing.

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#17


discipline
make a thread about it, this thread is about eretz israel

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#18


swampman

gruntstein posted:
i have no particular interest in getting into a transdebate but basic reason should tell you that a simple desire to be something does not make a person that thing.

well you have a pretty stupid premise here that ignores the abstract nature of gender

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#19


getfiscal

gruntstein posted:
a simple desire to be something does not make a person that thing.

hahahaha have you even READ the secret?

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#20


babyfinland

thirdplace posted:
the whole essentialism debate as it relates to sexuality or gender strikes me as alternatively archaic or irrelevant to this context. it's used in traditionalist paradigms ("sure it's evil but they can't help it") that aren't supported outside that tradition, and as a justification for overruling private rights of property and contract (i.e., in employment contexts) that I for one don't give a fuck about. in other words, even if it were an entirely free choice, who cares if people choose to be homosexual or transgender or whatever? maybe when the essentialism is used as a rhetorical shield, but the only time i've ever seen that matter is on internet forums populated by ~sexist transwomen



concur

thirdplace posted:
like, in this case (ignoring for the sake of argument that it is mostly being used to distract attention from ultimately larger crimes) are you really prepared to argue that islamic states shouldn't be criticized for criminalizing homosexual behavior so long as it isn't innate? or, more particularly, make an argument that an atheist can take seriously?



it's a seriously complicated problem that i would have to organize my thoughts on it because modalities of gender and sexuality are very, very complex and intricate and irt their relationship to the state its impossible to speak in any generalized way. suffice it to say no one should have their rights trampled, nor should anyone be oppressed for any reason, including their sexual behavior. how that translates on the ground, in particular within the domain of the state, differs. islamist states and political parties don't handle questions of this nature well at all, but neither do liberal or soft-conservative political orgs, and frankly the radical-left is not very good either. since you brought up islam in particular, islamic governance does contain a certain program of discipline regarding sexual modalities which has its just and unjust expressions. we (westerners in solidarity with the oppressed) should support expressions of islamic governance that are holistically just, and not make too highly specified demands. israel, for all its touting of gay rights, has a poor record of justice regarding its queer population. we need to reject en toto the oppressor states, and not be seduced by easy shows that appeal to the racist cultural bedrock of the west

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