Boycott Movement Snubs Jewish Homosexuals

Members of the Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) movement force cancellation of an LGBT mission.

Rachel Hirshfeld,

LGBTQ flag
LGBTQ flag

Pressure applied by members of the Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has forced the Seattle Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Commission to cancel a scheduled public meeting with leaders of their Israeli counterparts during a visit sponsored by Wider Bridge, a San Francisco-based organization of Jewish homosexuals.

Wider Bridge says it is a national organization that works to create more opportunities for Jewish homosexuals in the United States and "to build stronger ties between the LGBTQ and Jewish communities in North America and the LGBTQ communities in Israel."

The meeting was scheduled to feature the leaders of the Association of Israeli LGBTQ Educational Organizations.

Wider Bridge was the lead sponsor of the Israeli LGBTQ leaders two-week West Coast tour, during which they met with their Jewish counterparts in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle to share their experiences and to learn from those confronting similar challenges in the United States.  

"A group of respected Israeli LGBTQ leaders came to the U.S. to discuss their work in making Israel a more inclusive place, and a better place to be an LGBTQ teenager,” said Arthur Slepian, Executive Director of A Wider Bridge. “Their voices have been silenced in Seattle by those who seek to demonize and delegitimize Israel, and who are willing to throw the Israeli LGBT community under the bus in the process.  We were dismayed that the Commission gave in to objections raised by a small number of activists.   
“These ‘boycott Israel’ advocates claim that the purpose of the Israeli LGBTQ leaders’ meetings here is to conceal – or ‘pinkwash’ – Israel’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We do not seek to distract anyone from the issues concerning the conflict,” added Mr. Slepian.

“The truth is that Israel is a good place to be LGBT, and it is so because there are countless people within Israel doing amazing, courageous work every day, especially with LGBT teens and families, saving lives, including the lives of young LGBTQ Palestinians who often have nowhere else to turn," he said. "Their work deserves to be supported, and their stories deserve to be told. It is not ‘pinkwashing’ to tell the truth.  
“Isolating and ignoring Israel’s LGBTQ community, pitting one minority against another, or calling for a wholesale boycott of Israel is not going to bring peace to the region any faster," he continued. “We are deeply disturbed by the single-minded dehumanizing tactics of those who would seek to shut down these important opportunities for engagement, dialogue, learning and collaboration.”