[Marxism] Making Zionism Gay or Queering Israel into Post-Zionism?

Yoshie Furuhashi 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repealed in 1988; Israel's Equal Workplace Opportunities Law was 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in 1992; the Israeli military rescinded its discrimination against 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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