Wednesday, 23 March 2011 04:40 Phyllis Chesler
On February 22, the New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center cancelled an upcoming Israeli Apartheid Week fundraising “party,” whose organizers planned to raise money for another flotilla to “break the siege of Gaza.”
Michael Lucas, a pro-Israel activist and gay adult filmmaker who belongs to the Center, insisted that this anti-Israeli-Apartheid “party” would be “anti-Semitic.” His opponents are mainly Jewish lesbian feminists who believe that the cancellation undermines their right to free speech. Over the years, most lesbian feminists have strongly supported pornography as a First Amendment right. Only now are they demonizing Lucas as a “Zionist” pornographer.
According to Sherry Wolf, a spokeswoman for a group called SeigeBusters, and an outspoken proponent of the cancelled anti-Israeli-Apartheid “party”: “It’s atrocious that after 28 years, [the LGBT Center is] becoming yet another occupied, homogenized space that only powerful and, frankly, white people dominate.” She subsequently organized a demonstration that took place on March 5, the date the fundraising event was to have taken place. On March 14, at a forum organized to debate the issue, SeigeBusters and its supporters outnumbered the pro-Israel activists by more than two to one.
When I was much younger, I took an idealistic view of gays and lesbians -invariably associating them with divine artists, writers, dancers, composers, playwrights and civil rights activists. But then, when I began working with real lesbian and bisexual women as part of my feminist activism, I discovered that -like everyone else -lesbians were neither angels nor devils. Like men, many lesbian feminists I met had internalized sexism and homophobia, and did not really respect or trust other women. In many cases that I observed, they used their intimate groups to bully, isolate and then shun any lesbian feminist who was “out of line” -despite the common pretense that feminist groups are leaderless and free-thinking.
In particular, I discovered that lesbians, bisexuals and “queers” often are expected to toe a party line when it comes to the Middle East. I am talking about the Palestinianization of lesbian feminists, including -perhaps especially -Jewish lesbian feminists, who are more concerned with the rights of a country that does not exist, “Palestine,” than with the rights of real Muslim women who are forced to veil themselves, accept arranged marriages and whom are victimized by honour killings when they are seen as too western or disobedient.