Consider, for example, the human cuckoos, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA). For the past three years, exploiting resources and an audience they have no legitimate claim to, QuAIA and Dykes Against Israeli Apartheid (DAIA) have been "laying their eggs" -- marching and monotonously messaging their loathing for Israel to throngs of gay-supportive spectators -- in the "nest" of Pride Toronto.
Seeing is believing. Lawyer Martin Gladstone filmed QuAIA 2009 in action to produce a short, damning documentary called Reclaiming our Pride. In it the hatred on the faces of many QuAIA and DAIA marchers is palpable. One sees swastikas on T-shirts characterizing Israel as a Nazi state, and hears menacing chants like "Fist by fist, blow by blow, apartheid state has got to go." The film offers persuasive evidence that QuAIA aren't ordinary political protesters with specific grievances, but Israel exceptionalists, gripped by an irrational obsession with the Jewish state's allegedly fathomless evils, while utterly oblivious to horrific human rights abuses elsewhere.
Over a million people from Canada and abroad took part in Pride Week 2009. Pride creates $100-million in direct economic impact, supports 650 jobs and brings the Ontario government $18-million in tax revenue. In 2014 the World Pride Congress is coming to Toronto. The economic and civic stakes around such a huge event are high.
Pride has traditionally been a boisterous but peaceful event. Yet ominously, in 2009 policing was tripled, in large part a response to crowd volatility provoked by anti-Israel activism. If the parade continues to evolve as a tension-filled, divisive forum where one minority feels singled out for guilt by association, Pride's reputation will suffer, with material losses to the city.
It's no good pretending the vicious anti-Zionism of the apartheid crowd is free of anti-Semitism. Many Jews do feel threatened by it, and rightly so. Some will no longer attend the parade out of discomfort. Typically of others I interviewed, lesbian Denise Alexander told me that the 2009 parade was "the first time I've ever felt unsafe as a Jew in Toronto." It wasn't only the words, "Down with Israel" or "The end of Israel": "It's the tone ... and the veins sticking out in their necks, like in Nazi Germany."
Pride's cultural mandate is to celebrate alternate sexuality, its political mandate to promote the human rights, social acceptance and environmental security of gays and lesbians. Political activism for human rights wherever gays are imprisoned, deported or executed makes sense. So does acknowledging gay-friendly jurisdictions. Kulanu, a Jewish social group, legitimately holds signs saying, "We're proud of Israel because Israel's proud of us." But anti-Israel protest and support for Israel's homophobic enemies belong in demonstrations on Parliament Hill or at the Israeli embassy, not in a forum where Israel's impeccable credentials on gay rights and social integration are second to no other nation.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid? Seriously?
Barbara Kay has an editorial in today's National Post about the disturbing appearance of anti-Zionists at Toronto's 2009 Gay Pride Parade. They were protesting the only country in the Middle East where gays & lesbians can live openly, in favour of regressive Arab regimes which support the total suppression if not outright killing of homosexuals. Kay writes: