[Marxism] Making Zionism Gay or Queering Israel into Post-Zionism?
furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Mon Jun 7 15:22:58 MDT 2004
There is a new battle in the Israel-Palestine conflict -- the battle
over hearts and minds of queer communities in Israel and the rest of
the world. Will GLBT activism only end up making Zionism gay or will
it succeed in queering Israel into post-Zionism?
On one hand, there is no question that GLBT activists in Israel have
won many victories in recent decades: e.g., the sodomy law was
repealed in 1988; Israel's Equal Workplace Opportunities Law was
amended to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
in 1992; the Israeli military rescinded its discrimination against
gays and lesbians in 1993; and the Israeli Supreme Court granted full
spousal benefits regardless of sexual orientation in 1994. Lee
Walzer, the author of Between Sodom and Eden: A Gay Journey Through
Today's Changing Israel (Columbia University Press, 2000), argues,
however, that the victories came at the cost of mainstreaming . . .
In other words, the price of acceptance for gay men and lesbians in
Israel was that they had to play the role of "good patriotic
citizens" of the Zionist state, the price that queer Palestinian
citizens of Israel, for instance, were unable to pay, as they --
unlike Jewish gay men who could tackle homophobia in separation from
the interlocking system of oppressions based on gender and
nationality -- had to struggle against gender and national
oppressions which absorbed much of activist energy . . .
Recently, however, an increasing number of queer Jewish activists
inside and outside Israel began to refuse to participate in the
project of simply making Zionism look "gay" in both the old and new
senses of the word . . . .
At the same time, more integration of GLBT Jews in Israel means more
integration of GLBT Jews into the mechanism of enforcing the Israeli
occupation. Hagai El-Ad suggests that GLBT Jews in Israel stand at
Relatively speaking, Israel is an extraordinary example of great
success in the rapid advancement of gay and lesbian rights. Some
academics who have tried to explain the phenomenon argue that instead
of being a case of extraordinary Israeli openness, it actually
reflects the closing of ranks among the Jewish majority in the face
of the common Arab enemy. In other words, "She has a (Jewish)
girlfriend; it's not so bad, at least she's not sleeping with Arabs."
The ultimate sexual taboo in Israel is sex between Jews and Arabs,
not sex between those of the same sex (assuming they're both on the
same side of the racial fence). . . . ("Gay Israel: No Pride In
Occupation," The Gully, February 21, 2002)
Will queer Jews in Israel, as well as Jewish queers in diaspora, take
the path of least resistance, serving as (literal and figurative)
queer Zionist soldiers enjoying camaraderie with straight Zionist
soldiers, making the occupation look sexy (cf. Calev Ben-David,
"Showing Our Best (Gay) Face Abroad," The Jerusalem Post, October 8,
2003) in the eyes of queers worldwide, as a popular gay Israeli movie
Yossi and Jaggar does, marginalizing dissents of anti-occupation
queers (cf. QUIT! "Yossi and Jagger: Epilogue")?
Or will queer Jews, as well as other non-Palestinian queers, make a
harder but more rewarding choice of building solidarity with their
Palestinian counterparts? . . . .
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