‎Poverty is not fate, it is a condition; it is not a misfortune, it is an injustice. It is the result of social structures and mental and cultural categories, it is linked to the way in which society has been built, in its various manifestations.
Gustavo Gutiérrez (via mashkwi)
Or should, perhaps, the objective defects of an institution be ascribed to individuals, in order fraudulently to give the impression of an improvement without making any essential improvement? It is the habit of pseudo-liberalism, when compelled to make concessions, to sacrifice persons, the instruments, and to preserve the thing itself, the institution. In this way the attention of a superficial public is diverted.
Karl Marx | Comments on The Latest Prussian Censorship Instruction (1842)
Ending Zionism is a feminist issue | Electronic Intifada 
As Israel’s assault on the besieged Palestinian population in Gaza approaches its third week, we continue to hear about the “disproportionate number” of women and children victims. This expression begs the question: what is a proportionate number of women and children killed in a genocide?
As Jadaliyya’s Maya Mikdashi asks in her op-ed titled “Can Palestinian men be victims?”, if a significant majority of the killed were adult men, would Israel’s crimes be lesser?
A different analysis of gendered violence is necessary: one that recognizes that no “proportions” are acceptable because all deaths should be mourned, while providing the tools for a differential understanding of the manifestations of violence.
Rape Calls
The feminist network INCITE! Women and Trans People of Color Against Violence has always understood that state violence is both racialized and gendered. Zionism is a prime example of that; it is a racist ideology grounded in the privileging of one ethno-religious group over all others.
When a state views a population — its dispossessed, disenfranchised and occupied indigenous population — as a ”demographic threat,” that view is fundamentally both racist and gendered.
Racist population control relies specifically on violence against women. So it is not surprising that Mordechai Kedar, an Israeli military intelligence officer turned academic, would matter-of-factly suggest this week that “raping the wives and mothers of Palestinian combatants” would deter attacks by Hamas militants.
Similarly, Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked did not attempt to present the murder of Palestinian children and their mothers as unfortunate, disproportionate “collateral damage” — she openly called for it by asserting that Palestinian women must be killed too, because they give birth to “little snakes.”
This comment reflects an Israeli infrastructure designed to sustain high rates of miscarriages by blocking basic resources such as water and medical supplies, forcing women in labor to wait at military checkpoints on their way to a hospital, and generally creating inhumane and unlivable conditions for Palestinians.
This latest murderous attack on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip has not only taken the lives of hundreds of Palestinians, but it has also increased miscarriages, pre-term labor and stillbirths.
Ethiopian-Israeli women, most of them Jewish, have also been subject to mandatory contraceptive injections without their consent.
Ending Zionism is a feminist and a reproductive justice issue.
Of course, gendered violence as a tool for settler-colonialism is not a new strategy; settler-colonialism, patriarchy and official hypocrisy usually go hand in hand.
Liberating Women?
Nineteenth-century France claimed to be liberating Algerian women even as it torched entire villages and towns. The proverbial colonial white man would have us believe that he was acting on the selfless impulse to save brown women from brown men, even as the colonial power he served impoverished entire countries.
Algerian women were certainly no better off as result of French colonialism; in fact, their circumstances deteriorated significantly.
The George W. Bush administration gave itself a pat on the back for supposedly liberating women in Afghanistan from the Taliban. Yet we see throughout history, and not just in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Algeria or Palestine, that wars have never liberated women and gender nonconforming people of color.
New Brand of Hypocrisy
Today, Israel has developed a new brand of this hypocrisy, as it claims that it is more civilized than the Palestinian people because it is supposedly a more “gay-friendly” country. This is pinkwashing, Israel’s attempt to distract from its ongoing human rights violations by pointing to its supposedly better gay rights record.
But that record, once again, is racist.
Any Jewish citizen of Israel can and must serve in the Israeli occupation forces, but these are the murderous forces engaging in the genocide of the Palestinian people.
Does it make for a more moral army if some of its killer soldiers are openly gay? Stop to think of who the purveyor of the greater violence is. Who is denying Palestinian women, children, gays, lesbians, trans people and straight men their most basic rights — freedom of movement, safety, shelter, food, a home, life? One has to acknowledge that the guilty party is “civilized” Israel, not Palestinian heteropatriarchy.
War — militarism — is a hyper-masculinist activity that glorifies and rewards all violence, including gendered violence, and a soldier trained in violence cannot put that violence aside when he or she gets home.
All of Israeli society is trained in violence. And violence is not a pair of combat boots one can leave at the door; violence becomes second nature (unless it was first nature, in which case it is further aggravated) and the entire community that engages in warfare is a more violent community — not just at the war front.
Joint Struggle
This is what we are witnessing today, as we have observed it again and again every time Israel escalates its assault on the Palestinian people.
As for Palestinians, there are no battlefronts, no “war zones.” All of historic Palestine is the battlefront as mobs of Israelis take to the streets in violent rampages.
This realization has always been at the very core of INCITE’s analysis. We understand that in situations of settler-colonialism, indigenous women, trans people and gender non-conforming people bear the brunt of a nexus of racism and sexism. We are engaging in a joint struggle, from India to the Arab world to South West Asia, to Africa and the Americas, for the dignity and full sovereignty of indigenous people.
This is why INCITE! endorsed, in 2010, the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and remains committed to the grassroots struggle against state-sponsored violence against the entire Palestinian people.
Nada Elia served on the Steering Collective of INCITE! Women and Trans People of Color Against Violence when it endorsed boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and is currently serving on the organizing collective of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).
(Photo Credit: Issam Rimawi / APA images | Israel denies Palestinian women their basic right to freedom of movement)

Ending Zionism is a feminist issue | Electronic Intifada 

As Israel’s assault on the besieged Palestinian population in Gaza approaches its third week, we continue to hear about the “disproportionate number” of women and children victims. This expression begs the question: what is a proportionate number of women and children killed in a genocide?

As Jadaliyya’s Maya Mikdashi asks in her op-ed titled “Can Palestinian men be victims?”, if a significant majority of the killed were adult men, would Israel’s crimes be lesser?

A different analysis of gendered violence is necessary: one that recognizes that no “proportions” are acceptable because all deaths should be mourned, while providing the tools for a differential understanding of the manifestations of violence.

Rape Calls

The feminist network INCITE! Women and Trans People of Color Against Violence has always understood that state violence is both racialized and gendered. Zionism is a prime example of that; it is a racist ideology grounded in the privileging of one ethno-religious group over all others.

When a state views a population — its dispossessed, disenfranchised and occupied indigenous population — as a ”demographic threat,” that view is fundamentally both racist and gendered.

Racist population control relies specifically on violence against women. So it is not surprising that Mordechai Kedar, an Israeli military intelligence officer turned academic, would matter-of-factly suggest this week that “raping the wives and mothers of Palestinian combatants” would deter attacks by Hamas militants.

Similarly, Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked did not attempt to present the murder of Palestinian children and their mothers as unfortunate, disproportionate “collateral damage” — she openly called for it by asserting that Palestinian women must be killed too, because they give birth to “little snakes.”

This comment reflects an Israeli infrastructure designed to sustain high rates of miscarriages by blocking basic resources such as water and medical supplies, forcing women in labor to wait at military checkpoints on their way to a hospital, and generally creating inhumane and unlivable conditions for Palestinians.

This latest murderous attack on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip has not only taken the lives of hundreds of Palestinians, but it has also increased miscarriages, pre-term labor and stillbirths.

Ethiopian-Israeli women, most of them Jewish, have also been subject to mandatory contraceptive injections without their consent.

Ending Zionism is a feminist and a reproductive justice issue.

Of course, gendered violence as a tool for settler-colonialism is not a new strategy; settler-colonialism, patriarchy and official hypocrisy usually go hand in hand.

Liberating Women?

Nineteenth-century France claimed to be liberating Algerian women even as it torched entire villages and towns. The proverbial colonial white man would have us believe that he was acting on the selfless impulse to save brown women from brown men, even as the colonial power he served impoverished entire countries.

Algerian women were certainly no better off as result of French colonialism; in fact, their circumstances deteriorated significantly.

The George W. Bush administration gave itself a pat on the back for supposedly liberating women in Afghanistan from the Taliban. Yet we see throughout history, and not just in AfghanistanIranIraq, Algeria or Palestine, that wars have never liberated women and gender nonconforming people of color.

New Brand of Hypocrisy

Today, Israel has developed a new brand of this hypocrisy, as it claims that it is more civilized than the Palestinian people because it is supposedly a more “gay-friendly” country. This is pinkwashing, Israel’s attempt to distract from its ongoing human rights violations by pointing to its supposedly better gay rights record.

But that record, once again, is racist.

Any Jewish citizen of Israel can and must serve in the Israeli occupation forces, but these are the murderous forces engaging in the genocide of the Palestinian people.

Does it make for a more moral army if some of its killer soldiers are openly gay? Stop to think of who the purveyor of the greater violence is. Who is denying Palestinian women, children, gays, lesbians, trans people and straight men their most basic rights — freedom of movement, safety, shelter, food, a home, life? One has to acknowledge that the guilty party is “civilized” Israel, not Palestinian heteropatriarchy.

War — militarism — is a hyper-masculinist activity that glorifies and rewards all violence, including gendered violence, and a soldier trained in violence cannot put that violence aside when he or she gets home.

All of Israeli society is trained in violence. And violence is not a pair of combat boots one can leave at the door; violence becomes second nature (unless it was first nature, in which case it is further aggravated) and the entire community that engages in warfare is a more violent community — not just at the war front.

Joint Struggle

This is what we are witnessing today, as we have observed it again and again every time Israel escalates its assault on the Palestinian people.

As for Palestinians, there are no battlefronts, no “war zones.” All of historic Palestine is the battlefront as mobs of Israelis take to the streets in violent rampages.

This realization has always been at the very core of INCITE’s analysis. We understand that in situations of settler-colonialism, indigenous women, trans people and gender non-conforming people bear the brunt of a nexus of racism and sexism. We are engaging in a joint struggle, from India to the Arab world to South West Asia, to Africa and the Americas, for the dignity and full sovereignty of indigenous people.

This is why INCITE! endorsed, in 2010, the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and remains committed to the grassroots struggle against state-sponsored violence against the entire Palestinian people.

Nada Elia served on the Steering Collective of INCITE! Women and Trans People of Color Against Violence when it endorsed boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and is currently serving on the organizing collective of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).

(Photo Credit: Issam Rimawi / APA images | Israel denies Palestinian women their basic right to freedom of movement)

It Turns Out Hamas Didn’t Kidnap and Kill the 3 Israeli Teens After All | NY Mag
When the bodies of three Israeli teenagers, kidnapped in the West Bank, were found late last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not mince words. “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay,” he said, initiating a campaign that eventually escalated into the present conflict in the region. 
But now, officials admit the kidnappings were not Hamas’s handiwork after all. 
Non-plagiarizing BuzzFeed writer Sheera Frenkel was among the first to suggest that it was unlikely that Hamas was behind the deaths of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach. Citing Palestinian sources and experts the field, Frenkel reported that kidnapping three Israeli teens would be a foolish move for Hamas. International experts told her it was likely the work of a local group, acting without concern for the repercussions: 

[Gershon Baskin] pointed out that Hamas has earlier this month signed an agreement to form a unity government with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, bridging, for the first time in seven years, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza.
“They will lose their reconciliation agreement with Abbas if they do take responsibility for [the kidnappings],” Baskin added.

Today, she was proven right:

After Israel’s top leadership exhaustively blamed Hamas for kidnap of 3 teens, they’ve now admitted killers were acting as “lone cell.”
— Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) 
July 25, 2014

Order of events: 3 teens kidnapped->100s of Palestns in WB arrested->revenge attacks on Palestinians->violence along Gaza/Israel border->war
— Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) 
July 25, 2014

To recap: 3 teens kidnapped->100s of Palestinians in WB arrested->revenge attacks on Palestinians->violence along Gaza/Israel border->war
— Sheera Frenkel (@sheeraf) 
July 25, 2014
Repeated inconsistencies in Israeli descriptions of the situation have sparked debate over whether Israel wanted to provoke Hamas into a confrontation. Israeli intelligence is also said to have known that the boys were dead shortly after they disappeared, but to have maintained public optimism about their safe return to beef up support from the Jewish diaspora. Writing for Al Jazeera, Musa al-Gharbi argued that Israel was deliberately provoking Hamas:

All the illegal and immoral actions related to Operation Brother’s Keeper were justified under the premise of finding and saving the missing teens whom the Israeli government knew to be dead — cynically exploiting the tragedy to whip up public outcry in order to provoke and then confront Hamas. This pattern of deception continues under the ongoing military offensive in Gaza. For example, last week in collaboration with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Abbas, in its efforts to alienate Hamas, Israel announced a bad-faith cease-fire proposal, which Hamas was not consulted on and never agreed to but whose violation supposedly justified Israel’s expansion and intensification of the military campaign into Gaza.

Despite continued negotiations, the violence shows no signs of letting up, and after Thursday night’s massive protests in the West Bank, there is still no ceasefire agreement. On Friday, it became clear that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempts to broker a seven-day truce were rejected by Israeli officials. Instead, Israel will apparently widen its ground operation in the Gaza Strip, despite international outcry about the civilian death toll. According to unnamed officials, the proposed truce was too generous to Hamas’s demands. 
Hamas, meanwhile, still hasn’t weighed in on the agreement, whose details are being kept secret, but continued to launch rockets into Israel. International peace talks are set to resume in France this weekend, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed.
(Photo Credit: Mohamed Farag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

It Turns Out Hamas Didn’t Kidnap and Kill the 3 Israeli Teens After All | NY Mag

When the bodies of three Israeli teenagers, kidnapped in the West Bank, were found late last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not mince words. “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay,” he said, initiating a campaign that eventually escalated into the present conflict in the region. 

But now, officials admit the kidnappings were not Hamas’s handiwork after all. 

Non-plagiarizing BuzzFeed writer Sheera Frenkel was among the first to suggest that it was unlikely that Hamas was behind the deaths of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach. Citing Palestinian sources and experts the field, Frenkel reported that kidnapping three Israeli teens would be a foolish move for Hamas. International experts told her it was likely the work of a local group, acting without concern for the repercussions: 

[Gershon Baskin] pointed out that Hamas has earlier this month signed an agreement to form a unity government with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, bridging, for the first time in seven years, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza.

“They will lose their reconciliation agreement with Abbas if they do take responsibility for [the kidnappings],” Baskin added.

Today, she was proven right:

Repeated inconsistencies in Israeli descriptions of the situation have sparked debate over whether Israel wanted to provoke Hamas into a confrontation. Israeli intelligence is also said to have known that the boys were dead shortly after they disappeared, but to have maintained public optimism about their safe return to beef up support from the Jewish diaspora. Writing for Al Jazeera, Musa al-Gharbi argued that Israel was deliberately provoking Hamas:

All the illegal and immoral actions related to Operation Brother’s Keeper were justified under the premise of finding and saving the missing teens whom the Israeli government knew to be dead — cynically exploiting the tragedy to whip up public outcry in order to provoke and then confront Hamas. This pattern of deception continues under the ongoing military offensive in Gaza. For example, last week in collaboration with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Abbas, in its efforts to alienate Hamas, Israel announced a bad-faith cease-fire proposal, which Hamas was not consulted on and never agreed to but whose violation supposedly justified Israel’s expansion and intensification of the military campaign into Gaza.

Despite continued negotiations, the violence shows no signs of letting up, and after Thursday night’s massive protests in the West Bank, there is still no ceasefire agreement. On Friday, it became clear that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempts to broker a seven-day truce were rejected by Israeli officials. Instead, Israel will apparently widen its ground operation in the Gaza Strip, despite international outcry about the civilian death toll. According to unnamed officials, the proposed truce was too generous to Hamas’s demands. 

Hamas, meanwhile, still hasn’t weighed in on the agreement, whose details are being kept secret, but continued to launch rockets into Israel. International peace talks are set to resume in France this weekend, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

(Photo Credit: Mohamed Farag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Black women do not fare well in the porn industry because the “plum” jobs for porn performers—the contract employment with the two major porn-feature studios, Vivid and Wicked—are reserved mainly for white women. These studios, with their chic image, sophisticated marketing practices, and guarantee of regular work, afford their contract women an income and level of visibility that makes them the envy of the industry. (Jenna Jameson, of course, is held up as the quintessential example of just how far a contract porn star can go.) With surgically enhanced bodies, perfectly coiffed hair, and glamorous makeup, these women act as PR agents for the porn industry, showing up regularly on Howard Stern, E! Entertainment, or in the pages of Maxim. As the porn industry increasingly wiggles its way into pop culture, it is no surprise that it uses mainly white women as the “acceptable” face of porn; their all-American-girl looks seamlessly mesh with the blonde, blue-eyed images that grace screens, celebrity magazines, and billboards across North America.

In porn, women of color are generally relegated to gonzo, a genre that has little glamour, security, or chic status. Here women have few fan club Web sites, do not make it to pop culture, and have to endure body-punishing sex. But while the sex acts are typical gonzo, the way the written text frames the sex is unique as it racializes the bodies and sexual behavior of the performer. In all-white porn, no one ever refers to the man’s penis as “a white cock” or the woman’s vagina as “white pussy,” but introduce a person of color, and suddenly all players have a racialized sexuality, where the race of the performer(s) is described in ways that make women a little “sluttier” and the men more hypermasculinized.

It is this harnessing of gender to race that makes women of color a particularly useful group to exploit in gonzo porn, since gonzo porn works only to the degree that the women in it are debased and dehumanized. As a woman of color, the porn performer embodies two subordinate categories, such as Asian fuckbucket, black ho, or Latina slut. All past and present racist stereotypes are dredged up and thrown in her face while she is being orally, anally, and vaginally penetrated by any number of men. When men (irrespective of race) ejaculate on her face and body, they often make reference to her skin color, and her debased status as a woman is seamlessly melded with, and reinforced by, her supposed debased status as a person of color. In the process, her race and gender become inseparable and her body carries the status of dual subordination.
Gail Dines | Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality (via wretchedoftheearth)
thepeoplesrecord:

Eight questions Palestinian queers are tired of hearing | Electronic IntifadaJuly 25, 2014
You might think that the main goal of a group of queer activists in Palestine like us in Al-Qaws should be the seemingly endless task of dismantling sexual and gender hierarchy in one’s own society.
It is. But you might think otherwise, judging from the repetitive questions we get during our lectures and events, or from inquiries we receive from media and other international organizations.
We intend to end this once and for all. Educating people about their own privilege is not our burden. But before we announce our formal retirement from this task, here are the eight most frequent questions we get, and their definitive answers.
1. Doesn’t Israel provide Palestinian queers with a safe haven?
Of course it does: the apartheid wall has sparkly pink doors lining it, ready to admit those who strike a fabulous pose. In fact, Israel built the wall to keep Palestinian homophobes out and to protect Palestinian queers who seek refuge in it.
But seriously: “Israel” creates refugees; it does not shelter refugees. There has never been a case of a Palestinian — a descendant of a family or families who were forcibly displaced, sometimes massacred, often thrown in jail without charge — magically transcending the living legacy of this history to find him or herself granted asylum in “Israel” — the state that committed these atrocities.
If some people manage to cross the wall and end up in Tel Aviv, they are considered “illegal.” They end up working and living in horrible conditions, trying to avoid being arrested.
2. Aren’t all Palestinians homophobic?
Are all Americans homophobic? Of course not. Unfortunately, Western representations of Palestinians, particularly lesbian, gay, transgender or queer Palestinians, tend to ignore diversity in Palestinian society.
That being said, Palestinians are living under a decades-long military occupation. The occupation amplifies the diverse forms of oppression that are experienced in every society.
However, homophobia is not the way we contextualize our struggle. This is a notion comes from specific type of activism in the global north.
How can we single out homophobia from a complex oppressive system (patriarchy) that oppresses women, and gender non-conforming people?
3. How do you deal with your main enemy, Islam?
Oh, we have a main enemy now? If we had to single out a main enemy that would be occupation, not religion — Islam or otherwise.
More fundamentalist forms of religion are presently enjoying a global resurgence, including in many Western societies.
We don’t view religion as our main exceptional challenge. Still, increased religious sentiment, regardless of which religion, almost always creates obstacles for those interested in promoting respect for gender and sexual diversity.
Palestinian nationalism has a long history of respect for secularism. This provides a set of cultural values useful in advocating for LGBTQ Palestinians.
Furthermore, religion is often an important part of Palestinian LGBTQ people’s identities. We respect all of our communities’ identities and make space for diversity.
4. Are there any out Palestinians?
I’m glad you asked that question. We have great Palestinian gay carpenters who build such amazing closets for queers with all the Western comforts you can dream of — we never want to leave.
Once again the notion of coming out — or the politics of visibility — is a strategy that has been adopted by some LGBT activists in the global north, due to specific circumstances. Imposing this strategy on the rest of the world, without understanding context, is a colonial project.
Ask us instead what social change strategies apply to our context, and whether the notion of coming out even makes sense.
5. Why are there no Israelis in al-Qaws?
Colonialism is not about bad people being mean to others (“bad” Israelis don’t steal queer Palestinians’ lunch money). Being super “good” doesn’t magically dissolve systems of oppression.
Our organization works within Palestinian society, across borders imposed by the occupation. The challenges that LGBTQ Israelis face are nothing like the ones faced by Palestinians.
We are talking about two different societies with different cultures and histories; the fact that they are currently occupying our land doesn’t make us one society.
Moreover, being queer does not eliminate the power dynamic between the colonized and colonizer despite the best of intentions.
We resist the “global, pink, happy, gay family” sentiment. Palestinian-only organizing is essential to decolonizing and improving Palestinian society.
6. I saw this film about gay Palestinians (Invisible Men/Bubble/Out In The Dark, etc.) and I feel I learned a lot about your struggle
You mean the films that were made by privileged Israeli or Jewish filmmakers portraying white Israelis as saviors and Palestinians as victims that needed saving?
These films strip the voice and agency of Palestinian queers, portraying them as victims that need saving from their own society.
Moreover, these films rely on racist tropes of Arab men as volatile and dangerous. These films are simply pinkwashing propaganda, funded by the Israeli government, with a poignant oppressed/oppressor love story the glitter on top.
If you want to learn about the reality of our community and our struggle, try listening to what queer Palestinians have to say, at the Al-Qaws or Palestinian Queers for BDS websites.
7. Isn’t fighting for gay rights a more pressing issue than pinkwashing?
Mainstream LGBT groups in the North would have us believe that queers live in a separate world, only connected to their societies as victims of homophobia.
But you cannot have queer liberation while apartheid, patriarchy, capitalism and other oppressions exist. It’s important to target the connections of these oppressive forces.
Furthermore, pinkwashing is a strategy used by the Brand Israel campaign to garner the support of queers in other parts of the world. It is simply an attempt to make the Zionist project more appealing to queer people.
This is another iteration of a familiar and toxic colonial fantasy — that the colonizer can provide something important and necessary that the colonized cannot possibly provide for themselves.
Pinkwashing strips away our voices, history and agency, telling the world that Israel knows what is best for us. By targeting pinkwashing we are reclaiming our agency, history, voices and bodies, telling the world what we want and how to support us.
8. Why do you use terms from “the West” like LGBT or queer to describe your struggle? How do you answer that critique?
Though we have occasionally been branded as tokenized, complicit with Israel, naïve and Westernized (by those based in the West), our activists bring decades of experience and on-the-ground analysis of cultural imperialism and Orientalism.
This has provided the raw material for many an itinerant academic. However, the work of those in the Ivory Tower is rarely, if ever, accountable to those working in the field nor does it acknowledge its power (derived from the same colonial economy) on activists.
We are accountable to our local communities and the values developed over years of organizing.
Language is a strategy, but it does not eclipse the totality of who we are and what we do. The words that have gained global currency — LGBTQ — are used with great caution in our grassroots movements. Simply because such words emerged from a particular context and political moment does not mean they carry that same political content when deployed in our context.
The language that we use is always revisited and expanded through our work. Language catalyzes discussions and pushes us to think more critically, but no word whether in English or Arabic can do the work. Only a movement can.
Ghaith Hilal is a queer Palestinian activist from the West Bank who has been part of Al-Qaws leadership since 2007.

thepeoplesrecord:

Eight questions Palestinian queers are tired of hearing | Electronic Intifada
July 25, 2014

You might think that the main goal of a group of queer activists in Palestine like us in Al-Qaws should be the seemingly endless task of dismantling sexual and gender hierarchy in one’s own society.

It is. But you might think otherwise, judging from the repetitive questions we get during our lectures and events, or from inquiries we receive from media and other international organizations.

We intend to end this once and for all. Educating people about their own privilege is not our burden. But before we announce our formal retirement from this task, here are the eight most frequent questions we get, and their definitive answers.

1. Doesn’t Israel provide Palestinian queers with a safe haven?

Of course it does: the apartheid wall has sparkly pink doors lining it, ready to admit those who strike a fabulous pose. In fact, Israel built the wall to keep Palestinian homophobes out and to protect Palestinian queers who seek refuge in it.

But seriously: “Israel” creates refugees; it does not shelter refugees. There has never been a case of a Palestinian — a descendant of a family or families who were forcibly displaced, sometimes massacred, often thrown in jail without charge — magically transcending the living legacy of this history to find him or herself granted asylum in “Israel” — the state that committed these atrocities.

If some people manage to cross the wall and end up in Tel Aviv, they are considered “illegal.” They end up working and living in horrible conditions, trying to avoid being arrested.

2. Aren’t all Palestinians homophobic?

Are all Americans homophobic? Of course not. Unfortunately, Western representations of Palestinians, particularly lesbian, gay, transgender or queer Palestinians, tend to ignore diversity in Palestinian society.

That being said, Palestinians are living under a decades-long military occupation. The occupation amplifies the diverse forms of oppression that are experienced in every society.

However, homophobia is not the way we contextualize our struggle. This is a notion comes from specific type of activism in the global north.

How can we single out homophobia from a complex oppressive system (patriarchy) that oppresses women, and gender non-conforming people?

3. How do you deal with your main enemy, Islam?

Oh, we have a main enemy now? If we had to single out a main enemy that would be occupation, not religion — Islam or otherwise.

More fundamentalist forms of religion are presently enjoying a global resurgence, including in many Western societies.

We don’t view religion as our main exceptional challenge. Still, increased religious sentiment, regardless of which religion, almost always creates obstacles for those interested in promoting respect for gender and sexual diversity.

Palestinian nationalism has a long history of respect for secularism. This provides a set of cultural values useful in advocating for LGBTQ Palestinians.

Furthermore, religion is often an important part of Palestinian LGBTQ people’s identities. We respect all of our communities’ identities and make space for diversity.

4. Are there any out Palestinians?

I’m glad you asked that question. We have great Palestinian gay carpenters who build such amazing closets for queers with all the Western comforts you can dream of — we never want to leave.

Once again the notion of coming out — or the politics of visibility — is a strategy that has been adopted by some LGBT activists in the global north, due to specific circumstances. Imposing this strategy on the rest of the world, without understanding context, is a colonial project.

Ask us instead what social change strategies apply to our context, and whether the notion of coming out even makes sense.

5. Why are there no Israelis in al-Qaws?

Colonialism is not about bad people being mean to others (“bad” Israelis don’t steal queer Palestinians’ lunch money). Being super “good” doesn’t magically dissolve systems of oppression.

Our organization works within Palestinian society, across borders imposed by the occupation. The challenges that LGBTQ Israelis face are nothing like the ones faced by Palestinians.

We are talking about two different societies with different cultures and histories; the fact that they are currently occupying our land doesn’t make us one society.

Moreover, being queer does not eliminate the power dynamic between the colonized and colonizer despite the best of intentions.

We resist the “global, pink, happy, gay family” sentiment. Palestinian-only organizing is essential to decolonizing and improving Palestinian society.

6. I saw this film about gay Palestinians (Invisible Men/Bubble/Out In The Dark, etc.) and I feel I learned a lot about your struggle

You mean the films that were made by privileged Israeli or Jewish filmmakers portraying white Israelis as saviors and Palestinians as victims that needed saving?

These films strip the voice and agency of Palestinian queers, portraying them as victims that need saving from their own society.

Moreover, these films rely on racist tropes of Arab men as volatile and dangerous. These films are simply pinkwashing propaganda, funded by the Israeli government, with a poignant oppressed/oppressor love story the glitter on top.

If you want to learn about the reality of our community and our struggle, try listening to what queer Palestinians have to say, at the Al-Qaws or Palestinian Queers for BDS websites.

7. Isn’t fighting for gay rights a more pressing issue than pinkwashing?

Mainstream LGBT groups in the North would have us believe that queers live in a separate world, only connected to their societies as victims of homophobia.

But you cannot have queer liberation while apartheid, patriarchy, capitalism and other oppressions exist. It’s important to target the connections of these oppressive forces.

Furthermore, pinkwashing is a strategy used by the Brand Israel campaign to garner the support of queers in other parts of the world. It is simply an attempt to make the Zionist project more appealing to queer people.

This is another iteration of a familiar and toxic colonial fantasy — that the colonizer can provide something important and necessary that the colonized cannot possibly provide for themselves.

Pinkwashing strips away our voices, history and agency, telling the world that Israel knows what is best for us. By targeting pinkwashing we are reclaiming our agency, history, voices and bodies, telling the world what we want and how to support us.

8. Why do you use terms from “the West” like LGBT or queer to describe your struggle? How do you answer that critique?

Though we have occasionally been branded as tokenized, complicit with Israel, naïve and Westernized (by those based in the West), our activists bring decades of experience and on-the-ground analysis of cultural imperialism and Orientalism.

This has provided the raw material for many an itinerant academic. However, the work of those in the Ivory Tower is rarely, if ever, accountable to those working in the field nor does it acknowledge its power (derived from the same colonial economy) on activists.

We are accountable to our local communities and the values developed over years of organizing.

Language is a strategy, but it does not eclipse the totality of who we are and what we do. The words that have gained global currency — LGBTQ — are used with great caution in our grassroots movements. Simply because such words emerged from a particular context and political moment does not mean they carry that same political content when deployed in our context.

The language that we use is always revisited and expanded through our work. Language catalyzes discussions and pushes us to think more critically, but no word whether in English or Arabic can do the work. Only a movement can.

Ghaith Hilal is a queer Palestinian activist from the West Bank who has been part of Al-Qaws leadership since 2007.

I've felt helpless to express the same thoughts and radical ideals that you have about capitalism, government structure, and our society on a whole. What can I actually do to make a difference? — Asked by Anonymous

Plug into and empower your local community to generate grassroots support for the institutions needed to displace and dismantle capitalist exploitation. I cannot stress this enough, get involved in YOUR community. Build sustainable support systems for yourself and your neighbors, both for emotional/mental health and to meet the People’s material needs. You can join a cause or be as creative as you can be in building your own. Like Fred Hampton said, we ain’t gonna talk about socialism, we’re gonna DO socialism.

Remember, there is no such thing as a one size fits all solution to massive problems. Our approach must be as diverse as the circumstances we face. I cannot deal with the specifics of your area because I am likely not a member of your community. If you have an idea of what issues strike closest to home for you, message me off Anon and let’s talk about broad strategies.

Getting past Blaming Both Side Syndrome, past the Zionist narrative that both sides are equally engaged in a conflict rather than a one-sided massacre, is essential to understanding the material reality of what is happening on the ground in Gaza. This understanding must lay bare the conditions of occupation, colonization, and apartheid. When we understand this we ought to understand a people’s natural right to armed resistance. Blaming Palestinians for fighting oppression from a racist, Zionist government is outright victim-blaming. Whatever mental circus one has to go through to arrive at any other conclusion is a testament to the tactical effectiveness of Israeli/US propaganda and their own inability to empathize with the conditions of occupation.

The efficiency of the IDF to massacre Palestinians is evidence of the overwhelming, far-reaching oppression occupied Gazans face every day. This, of course, has everything to do with the fact that Israel has a highly technological army, navy, air-force, and intelligence apparatus — Palestinians do not. 

A principle mechanism of painting the blaming-both-sides picture has been the portrayal of Hamas as the chief objector to proposed ceasefires by Israel, Egypt, and humanitarian agencies. But consider the fact that any cease-fire which calls for the continuation of Palestinian oppression (all of them) is, as they themselves have by majority claimed, a condition of living death. This is not a negotiation then, it is a demand of a wolf clothed in the rhetoric of the sheep. If Palestinians recognize this, and they have, why should they do anything other than reject those terms. Yet, upon rejection, the same tactical propaganda of Western media pins it on Hamas, an entity Israel helped to prominence to impede the peace process and justify its Zionist agenda, as if Hamas were the only obstruction. Accepting this narrative, even in part, squarely puts you as a tool of Zionist occupation.

Don’t fall for that garbage. Where there is occupation, there WILL be resistance.  

Social scientists estimate that 15 to 30 percent, or, “[a]s many as 600,000 to 1.2 million slaves” in antebellum America were Muslims. 46 percent of the slaves in the antebellum South were kidnapped from Africa’s western regions, which boasted “significant numbers of Muslims”.

These enslaved Muslims strove to meet the demands of their faith, most notably the Ramadan fast, prayers, and community meals, in the face of comprehensive slave codes that linked religious activity to insubordination and rebellion. Marking Ramadan as a “new American tradition” not only overlooks the holy month observed by enslaved Muslims many years ago, but also perpetuates their erasure from Muslim-American history.

Although the Quran “[a]llows a believer to abstain from fasting if he or she is far from home or involved in strenuous work,” many enslaved Muslims demonstrated transcendent piety by choosing to fast while bonded. In addition to abstaining from food and drink, enslaved Muslims held holy month prayers in slave quarters, and put together iftars - meals at sundown to break the fast - that brought observing Muslims together. These prayers and iftars violated slave codes restricting assembly of any kind.

For instance, the Virginia Slave Code of 1723 considered the assembly of five slaves as an “unlawful and tumultuous meeting”, convened to plot rebellion attempts. Every state in the south codified similar laws barring slave assemblages, which disparately impacted enslaved African Muslims observing the Holy Month.

Therefore, practicing Islam and observing Ramadan and its fundamental rituals, for enslaved Muslims in antebellum America, necessitated the violation of slave codes. This exposed them to barbaric punishment, injury, and oftentimes, even death. However, the courage to observe the holy month while bonded, and in the face of grave risk, highlights the supreme piety of many enslaved Muslims.

Ramadan was widely observed by enslaved Muslims. Yet, this history is largely ignored by Muslim American leaders and laypeople alike - and erased from the modern Muslim American narrative.

Ramadan: A centuries-old American tradition | Al Jazeera (via simhasanam)

I want everyone to read this. The general (though unspoken) conception is that Ramadan and Islam in general is a religious practice that began in great numbers in the West with the influx of Arab and South Asian immigrants and that is far from the truth and a grave injustice to the contributions of Black Americans. Islam has been here and its foundation began with them.

(via maarnayeri)

"How large is America’s prison problem? More than 2.4 million people are behind bars in the United States today, either awaiting trial or serving a sentence. That’s more than the combined population of 15 states, all but three U.S. cities, and the U.S. armed forces. They’re scattered throughout a constellation of 102 federal prisons, 1,719 state prisons, 2,259 juvenile facilities, 3,283 local jails, and many more military, immigration, territorial, and Indian Countryfacilities.”
— The Leader of the Unfree World | The Atlantic 

"How large is America’s prison problem? More than 2.4 million people are behind bars in the United States today, either awaiting trial or serving a sentence. That’s more than the combined population of 15 states, all but three U.S. cities, and the U.S. armed forces. They’re scattered throughout a constellation of 102 federal prisons, 1,719 state prisons, 2,259 juvenile facilities, 3,283 local jails, and many more military, immigration, territorial, and Indian Countryfacilities.”

— The Leader of the Unfree World | The Atlantic 

Blame Both Sides Syndrome 

Blame Both Sides Syndrome 


Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda | The Independent
In a campaign to improve its image abroad, the Israeli government plans to provide scholarships to hundreds of students at its seven universities in exchange for their making pro-Israel Facebook posts and tweets to foreign audiences.



The students making the posts will not reveal online that they are funded by the Israeli government, according to correspondence about the plan revealed in the Haaretz newspaper.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, which will oversee the programme, confirmed its launch and wrote that its aim was to “strengthen Israeli public diplomacy and make it fit the changes in the means of information consumption”.
The government’s hand is to be invisible to the foreign audiences. Daniel Seaman, the official who has been planning the effort, wrote in a letter on 5 August to a body authorising government projects that “the idea requires not making the role of the state stand out and therefore it is necessary to adhere to great involvement of the students themselves, without political linkage or affiliation”.
According to the plan, students are to be organised into units at each university, with a chief co-ordinator who receives a full scholarship, three desk co-ordinators for language, graphics and research who receive lesser scholarships and students termed “activists” who will receive a “minimal scholarship”.
Mr Netanyahu’s aides said the main topics the units would address related to political and security issues, combating calls to boycott Israel and combating efforts to question Israel’s legitimacy. The officials said the students would stress Israeli democratic values, freedom of religion and pluralism.
But Alon Liel, the doveish former director-general of the Israeli foreign ministry, criticised the plan as “quite disgusting”. “University students should be educated to think freely. When you buy the mind of a student, he becomes a puppet of the Israeli government grant,” he said. “You can give a grant to do social work or teach but not to do propaganda on controversial issues for the government.”
(Photo Credit: Daily Slave)
Editor’s Note: This article was published August 2013.

Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda | The Independent

In a campaign to improve its image abroad, the Israeli government plans to provide scholarships to hundreds of students at its seven universities in exchange for their making pro-Israel Facebook posts and tweets to foreign audiences.

The students making the posts will not reveal online that they are funded by the Israeli government, according to correspondence about the plan revealed in the Haaretz newspaper.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, which will oversee the programme, confirmed its launch and wrote that its aim was to “strengthen Israeli public diplomacy and make it fit the changes in the means of information consumption”.

The government’s hand is to be invisible to the foreign audiences. Daniel Seaman, the official who has been planning the effort, wrote in a letter on 5 August to a body authorising government projects that “the idea requires not making the role of the state stand out and therefore it is necessary to adhere to great involvement of the students themselves, without political linkage or affiliation”.

According to the plan, students are to be organised into units at each university, with a chief co-ordinator who receives a full scholarship, three desk co-ordinators for language, graphics and research who receive lesser scholarships and students termed “activists” who will receive a “minimal scholarship”.

Mr Netanyahu’s aides said the main topics the units would address related to political and security issues, combating calls to boycott Israel and combating efforts to question Israel’s legitimacy. The officials said the students would stress Israeli democratic values, freedom of religion and pluralism.

But Alon Liel, the doveish former director-general of the Israeli foreign ministry, criticised the plan as “quite disgusting”. “University students should be educated to think freely. When you buy the mind of a student, he becomes a puppet of the Israeli government grant,” he said. “You can give a grant to do social work or teach but not to do propaganda on controversial issues for the government.”

(Photo Credit: Daily Slave)

Editor’s Note: This article was published August 2013.

Palestinian Protests Break Out In West Bank As Death Toll Rises | IB Times

For the first time since the start of the Israel and Gaza clashes earlier this month, the conflict has spread to the West Bank. Thousands of people marched from Ramallah to Jerusalem on Thursday night to protest Israel denying them entrance to Al-Aqsa mosque and to express their solidarity with Gaza.

When protestors reached the Qalandiyah checkpoint, a militarized checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem that passes through Israel’s separation wall, reports say they were met with live ammunition and tear gas from Israeli security forces. Protesters show no sign of backing down and solidarity demonstrations are reported to have popped up in the Al Aqsa, Nablus, Jerusalem and Al-Khalil neighborhoods. Many are saying it looks like the beginning of the Third Intifada. 

Palestinians’ first intifada, or uprising, was from 1987 to 1993, and the second raged from 2000 to around 2005.   

So far, there are two dead and at least 200 wounded in the West Bank, but those numbers are expected to rise. Nineteen-year-old Mohammad al-Araj and 27-year-old Majd Sufyan were both killed in the protest, a Palestinian news agency Ma’an reporter at the scene said. According to Haaretz, the Ramallah Government Hospital was “filled” with wounded protesters and operating rooms and waiting areas there were at capacity. Those with light injuries have been asked to leave. 

"These are scenes out of the first intifada," said Palestinians who were part of that particular uprising who came to the hospital when they heard their sons and daughters were wounded by IDF gunfire, according to Haaretz

(Read Full Text) (Additional Source

(Photo Credit Top: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem | Bottom Two: Unknown