According to my sources, approximately 28 people attended the evening meeting and donated $123 to their cause. (Not a great showing, not a large collection but still…) Siege Busters, represented by mostly older women, is an anti-Israel/pro-“Palestine” group which had not been allowed to meet at the center; now, they want to join “Queers Against Apartheid.” Those present decided to reach out to non-“queer” groups which also oppose Israeli “apartheid” and support Palestinian terrorism. They also decided to present their right to make an alliance with terrorist, homophobic misogynists as a matter of “free speech.”
What is going on? For the last five days, a 32-year old Saudi woman, Manal al-Sharif, has been sitting in jail in Saudi Arabia because she dared to drive her own car. Real gender and religious apartheid dominate the Arab and Muslim worlds in general, and in Gaza and in the West Bank in particular. Palestinian-on-Palestinian honor killings of women and gays are rampant. Palestinians are forcing Palestinian women to veil and are arresting and torturing them if they behave in too Westernized a manner. Ask most Palestinians and they will tell you that they would rather live either in Israel or alongside a Jewish Israel because it is the only country in the Middle East willing to employ them. (Palestinians are denied both citizenship and employment in most Arab countries.) In addition, gay Palestinians have fled to Israel for asylum when their lives have been threatened.
The gay “thing” is very complicated in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Homosexuality is rampant but is more like prison-sex or pederasty than like western liberation-oriented versions of homosexuality. Women are devalued and kept apart. Many men cannot afford a wife or many wives; even when they can, many married men still have male lovers. However, one denies this. One never confesses. If denounced, or if one adopts too “Western” a style, one risks torture and death.
Failing to understand all and any of this, the “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid” have decided not to talk to center member Michael Lucas (see below), not to engage with him in any public forum. This is typical. The left ostracizes anyone with another view of reality and refuses to listen or talk to them.
Lucas is the first gay Jewish man who has actually stood up to the hate-Israel crowd at the NYC Center. There are many others who stand with him, myself included. It is no coincidence that Lucas grew up in Soviet Russia. He understands and recognizes totalitarianism and anti-Semitism when he sees it. When Lucas spoke for Israel at the center, he was heckled and demonized. When another gay group wanted to have him speak about Israel, they were threatened and frightened so much that Lucas decided to deliver his speech elsewhere for them, not at the center. According to Lucas:
The President of the Board of Directors for the LGBT center, Mario Palumbo, and Executive Director, Glennda Testone are staunch anti-Zionists. In fact, they are [so} anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli that they would not meet with representatives from major Jewish organizations (Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs) who wanted to explain to them that the word “apartheid” cannot be applicable to the Jewish state. Initially, they agreed to the meeting but then they cancelled it two hours before it was to take place. However, Palumbo and Testone have had many meetings with all the anti-Israeli organizations who requested a meeting which culminated in the decision to grant “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid” the space.
Now, in the light of what has happened, Lucas, a major financial supporter of the center, has withdrawn from it. His letter is brief, dignified, and to the point. I will give him the closing words. He writes:
Dear supporters of the state of Israel-
I just learned that tonight the Gay Center of NYC will be hosting the first meeting of the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. This organization stands for boycotts, divestments and sanctions of the Jewish state. In other words, it stands for boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Jewish men, women, children, and Holocaust survivors living in Israel.
I am a proud gay man and a proud Jewish man, but I have made my choice. I ask you to boycott, divest and sanction the LGBT Center of NYC. Today Jewish people in Israel are in incomparably greater danger than the gay people in America will ever be. This is a difficult choice and I am asking you to make the same choice.
Alienate yourself from NYC LGBT Center. Stand with Israel, stand with Israeli Jews, and defend their right to exist, their right to defend themselves, not to let the world exterminate them again.
And even if all the gay groups will condemn this letter, I will not change my mind.
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