What is going on with Creating Change, the Task Force, and Israel?
In the last two years, the Task Force has been increasing its alignment with Israel propaganda groups and against queer and trans activists working on racial justice and Palestinian liberation. At 2016’s Creating Change, the Task Force was asked to stand for justice on these issues and faced protest when it reversed its own decision and aligned with the Israel propaganda organization, A Wider Bridge. Since then, despite empty claims to neutrality, the Task Force has continued to signal that it has chosen to align with Israel propaganda groups. This year, Creating Change rejected all proposals related to anti-pinkwashing activism, gave Israel advocates control of all Jewish programming at the conference, and announced it is partnering with the Forever Tel Aviv for a major fundraising event. The Task Force’s event violates the international boycott of Israeli companies and cultural institutions that are complicit in the violation of Palestinian human rights.
There is no “balance” in the Task Force’s actions, but instead a series of decisions over the past three years to silence queer racial justice activists in the US; ignore Palestinian queer organizations’ calls to stand against apartheid; hand over any discussion of Palestine/Israel to groups dedicated to supporting Israel; and join in pinkwashing — for fundraising! — by using Israel as a party meme.
When the Task Force refused to include sessions on Palestine/Israel in this year’s Creating Change conference, it was, of course, not the first time the organization has silenced queers who criticize Israel, nor the first time Creating Change was used to pinkwash state violence. The 2016 conference program included “workshops” by ICE agents and a reception promoting the pinkwashing group A Wider Bridge. While the Task Force responded to protests and canceled the ICE event, it bowed to pressure from pro-Israel groups and supporters and went ahead with the reception for A Wider Bridge. When queer community protests continued, Task Force leadership threatened to call the police and could only be stopped by protesters promising to stop the protest. The Task Force later vilified the protesters in public statements.
After the 2016 controversy, the Task Force claimed to be neutral on issues of Israeli colonialism and apartheid. Rea Carey has claimed that the Task Force does not have “an international mission” and should not be concerned about the “geo-political situations” in which queer and trans people live. It is shocking to see an organization that claims to be progressive refuse to acknowledge how we in the US are implicated in global politics and called to solidarity by queer and trans people impacted by US militarism, weapons trade, and imperialism around the world. The US provides $3.3 Billion per year in military aid to the Israeli government, supporting its daily human rights abuses against Palestinians. Thus, queer and trans people in the US have an ethical obligation to refuse to be used by Israel as part of its public relations campaign to pinkwash apartheid.
But queers’ stake in Israel/Palestine work goes even deeper, because we are used as a weapon against Palestinians by the Israeli government. The Israeli Foreign Ministry is literally using Israel’s (supposed) LGBT rights as an ad campaign to improve Israel’s international image — which is so poor because of its increasing racism and violence against Palestinians, as well as African refugees and Israeli people of color.. Israeli propaganda groups portray Palestinian queers as needing “rescue” from Palestine rather than an end to violent occupation. Jewish queers in the US have been targeted by big pro-Israel funders — either to carry a pro-Israel message into LGBT communities or, if they criticize Israel, to label them traitors to Jewish and LGBT liberation. Queer communities in the US are deeply, inextricably involved in the politics of Palestine/Israel, whether or not we have chosen it.
In 2017, LGBTQ groups working on Palestine/Israel marched in Pride parades and dyke marches all around North America. Queers’ relationship to Palestine and Israel was the subject of national queer conversation and debate for months. Why is this conversation being kept off the program at Creating Change?
Now is not the time for powerful LGBTQ organizations in the US to claim “neutrality” about immigration, policing, colonization, and war – much less to side with state violence, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and racism. In doing so, the Task Force is aligning itself with racism, colonialism, anti-immigrant xenophobia, and Islamophobia.
The Task Force can can stand for justice and against pro-Israel and pinkwashing forces.
- Commit to providing time and space for workshops focused on queer and trans decolonization work that includes queer and trans Palestinian liberation at next year’s conference.
- Cancel its fundraiser with Forever Tel Aviv
- Take a firm stand against pinkwashing in the US and Israel and commit to honoring the call for boycott of Israeli institutions.