Monday, May 24, 2010

Toronto Gay Pride vs Queers Against Israeli Apartheid - the plot thickens

"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -- Voltaire.


What would happen to Toronto's Gay Pride festival if there were no government grants or corporate sponsorships?

Well, I guess there'd be no Molson's beer garden or TD logo's. And I imagine a lot of people would still party on like they have been doing ever since the first gay pride march in 1981. But the most important difference would be that there would far less government and corporate interference, and tactics like withholding funding as a means to bully the community into self-censorship would have no leverage.

This morning's webcrawl turned up a very interesting article at Muzzlewatch, the blog of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Cecille Surasky, in an article called The Israel Lobby's smear campaign and Toronto Gay Pride writes:

What’s remarkable about Toronto isn’t that some oppose QuAIA’s presence in the parade–in the classic tradition of LGBT parades, which are by their very nature acts of political resistance, QuAIA’s message is challenging and it’s meant to be. What’s amazing is that their opponents– who object to the term “apartheid” despite its almost commonplace usage by many Israelis–have resorted to openly duplicitous and unethical means for literally banishing the group and harming the parade to achieve their aims.
Actually, it makes perfect sense. You can’t ban a group for using the word ‘apartheid’, so you have to fabricate evidence to suggest the group is a hate group. And that’s exactly what’s happening to QuAIA, which, surprise surprise, includes a lot of self-loving anti-occupation Jews.

She goes on to detail the attempt to pinkwash Israel, portraying it as a gay Mecca -- oops, strike that -- a gay haven amid a sea of homophobic Arab states. This is part of a Brand Israel project which has identified gays as mostly liberal (hmm…wonder why?) who tend to support human rights for all -- even Palestinians.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the chill is on and it has now become impossible to offer any critique of Israel's policies without being branded an anti-semite. Being Jewish oneself makes no difference, as you are simply "self-hating", like Naom Chomsky who was recently barred from entering Israel.

Toronto's Naomi Klein was also falsely accused by a group called the Reut Institute of opposing Israel's right to exist. The Reut Institute is an Israeli think tank which recently published a report on "hubs of delegitimization" in which it

"attempted to equate tactics of non-violent resistance… to force Israel to comply with international law — with a military campaign to destroy the state of Israel.
Most worrying, the report explicitly urged Israeli intelligence agencies like Mossad to take unspecified action against peace activists using entirely legal methods: 'Neither changing policy nor improving public relations will suffice…Faced with a potentially existential threat, Israel must treat it as such by focusing its intelligence agencies on this challenge; allocating appropriate resources; developing new knowledge; designing a strategy, executing it.' The think tank also called on the Israeli government to 'sabotage network catalysts' — defined as key players in the 'delegitimization network'.

The Reut report identified several cities with active Palestinian solidarity communities as 'hubs' in this supposed network, one hub being my own city of Toronto.."
Full article is here.

But back to Pride Toronto. Over at an article by Andrew Brett from 2009 says
"In Tuesday's edition of the Jewish Tribune, the political newspaper of B'nai Brith, pro-Israel lobbyists declared their intention to threaten government and corporate sponsorship of the annual Toronto Pride Festival unless the organization banned pro-Palestinian marchers from the parade."
That was last year and the attempt was unsuccessful. But, if at first you don't succeed, etc.

This year, they have added the help of city councillor Kyle Ray and Susan Levy of the Toronto Sun, both openly gay, plus mayoral candidates Giorgio Mammoliti and Rob Ford, both openly homophobic to craft a threat to withdraw city funding for Pride Toronto. We know the federal government has already withdrawn their funding.

B'nai Brith accuses QuAIA of "highjacking the gay agenda". Since when do they get to define the gay agenda?

Kyle Ray accuses QuIAI of politicizing Pride. Oh come now Kyle, the Pride Parade has been political since its inception.

Martin Gladstone has said the presence of QuAIA makes some people "uncomfortable". Well, if we're going to remove everything from the parade that makes some people uncomfortable, I guess we'll have to ban nipple rings, nudity, drag queens and really, when you get right down to it - all those queers!
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