NY Gay Center Will Allow Israel-Related Events

Reversal Comes Days After Center Bars Speech by Prominent Gay Scholar

Wikicommons/David Shankbone

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published February 15, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A New York gay community center announced February 15 that it had lifted a moratorium on events relating to Israel days after coming under heavy criticism for barring a prominent gay scholar from speaking about her new book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The decision, announced at 4:50 PM on a Friday leading into a three-day weekend, lifts a two-year ban on events relating to Israel at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, a key gay communal institution in New York.

In an emailed statement, the Center announced that the “the moratorium is no longer in effect.”

The Center’s policy barring Israel-related events came under renewed scrutiny on February 13 following a report in the Gay City News that the organization had declined to allow a speech by Sarah Schulman, a professor at The City University of New York. Schulman was set to talk on her new book, “Israel/Palestine and the Queer International.”

Schulman praised the Center’s reversal in an e-mail to the Forward. “The community showed their heartfelt belief in open expression and caring for each other, proving yet again that our common value is social justice,” she wrote.

Elected officials responded immediately to the announced end of the moratorium. A statement signed by City Council Speaker and Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn and other gay elected officials praised the new guidelines, but condemned claims of “pinkwashing” — the allegation that Israel uses the equality it offers gays to distract from its treatment of the Palestinians. Schulman wrote a widely read column backing the “pinkwashing” theory in the New York Times.

“Their decision to allow groups to have open discussion and to create a resolution process to address complaints of potential hate-related speech is the correct approach,” the officials wrote. “We vehemently oppose the absurd accusations by some groups that Irsael is engaged in so-called pinkwashing. We find this cause offensive and fundamentally detrimental to the global cause of LGBT equality.”

The moratorium on Israel-related events was instituted in February 2011, following a controversy at the Center over an activist group’s plans to rent space for an Israel Apartheid Week event. At the time, prominent gay porn producer Michael Lucas threatened to organize a boycott of the Center by donors if the event was allowed to go forward.

In response efforts by Lucas and others, the Center announced it would no longer allow any Israel-related events to be held in its space. That policy formally ended on February 15 of this year.

In an e-mail sent an hour after the announcement of the new policy, Lucas said that he would not organize against the decision, but called on others to cut donations to the Center. “I would advise people to stop donating to the center and believe the city should stop funding an organization whose original mission of helping gay people has changed to providing a platform to anti-israeli hate groups,” Lucas wrote. “The LGBT Center of New York City is now officially hurting innocent men, women, children, the elderly and Holocaust survivors that live in Israel.”

In its announcement of its new policy, the Center outlined a process for filing complaints about events held in its spaces. “Going forward, if members of the community feel that hate speech or bigotry has occurred at the Center, they are encouraged to submit a formal complaint in writing,” the announcement read.

A spokesperson for the Center said that she could provide no further comment. She also said that no decision had been reached on the Schulman reading.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.