In Jason Ritchie’s article Pinkwashing, Homonationalism, and Israel-Palestine: The Conceits of Queer Theory and the Politics of the Ordinary, he discusses the issue of Israel’s claims of being a gay inclusive state. This strategy is called “pinkwashing” or “a deliberate strategy [on the the part of the Israeli state and its supports] to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life.” (Ritchie,3) In US queer cities like New York discourse critiquing Israel’s treatment of Palestine is immediate deemed anti-semetic. Additionally, political organization to mobilize against Israeli occupation of the West Bank is deemed to distract from the “core mission” of LGBT organizations.
In the US progressive queer activists claim that racial justice, anti-imperialism, immigration, economic justice, disability justice, and militarization are key issues as they address universal human rights violations. Under this argument, they feel they Israel’s claims of being LGBT friendly are directly undermined by their history of Palestinian occupation and oppression. While many contemporary Israelis and Western queers alike claim this is simply not the case, Ritchie’s accounts of queer Palestinian life paint a drastically different picture. This becomes a polarizing issue in Western LGBT circles are some claim that the Israel-Palestine conflict is a non-queer issue. Instead, they claim that since Israel is progressive to queer bodies in it’s own state, it should be given the credit of being LGBT-friendly. However, queer activists argue that any violation of human rights then becomes a universally queer issue. So, by violating the rights and not freely allowing for queer Palestinian visibility, they are not LGBT friendly.
Ritchie discusses the life of queer Palestinians and the limitations that Palestinian-Israeli queer relationships face. Israel has LGBT inclusiveness for only certain bodies and polices queer Palestinians from easily entering their spaces if at all. Queer dating websites like Atraf ask religion instead of ethnicity allowing Israelis to deny prospective Palestinian partners. (Ritchie, 11) Additionally, although Israeli border guards let queer Palestinians into gay bars in Israel, they do so if that Palestinian speaks proper Hebrew or has certain markers. So, this allows for regulation of queer bodies. Additionally, queer Palestinian-Israeli relationships are heavily policed by Israeli society. Palestinian and Arab partners, even if they have Israeli citizenship, are seen as unable to assimilate into Israeli life and are categorized as others. Therefore, the argument that Israel is LGBT inclusive is flawed. They are only inclusive of some bodies and are still anti-Palestinian. With this evidence, many activists argue that Israel’s “pinkwashing” covers up it’s practice anti-Palestinian (including queer Palestinian) policies.
Ritchie argues that homonormativity as an argument ignores other factors in these behaviors. It is an oversimplification. (Ritchie, 17) Israel, for instance, has a long history of Palestinian occupation and militarism. Therefore, it’s exclusion of certain Palestinian queer bodies from it’s LGBT community isn’t as much homonormative as it is anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, and Israeli-normative. He claims “power, in this framework, is reducible to racism, and racism is understood in a universalizing manner” which neglects discourse of “social relations in concrete socio-historical contexts.” (Ritchie, 17)
Can you threaten homonormativity in a space where queerness is still not highly visible? I.e. can you say a community is risking any form of normativity when it is still considered a deviant sexuality?
Do Western fears of anti-semetism/ being labeled as anti-semetic keep them from critiquing anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian practices in Israel?
Why do some feel like homonormativity is a greater threat to modern queer communities than heteronormativity?