Gays Debate 'Pinkwashing' as N.Y. Center Reverses Ban on Israel-Related Events

Pro-Israel Advocates Slam Theory as Critics Push Conference

Green Light: Sarah Schulman hopes she can now go forward with a talk about her book, which is critical of Israel, at the LGBT Center.
WIKICOMMONS/DAVID SHANKBONE/
Green Light: Sarah Schulman hopes she can now go forward with a talk about her book, which is critical of Israel, at the LGBT Center.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published February 20, 2013, issue of March 01, 2013.
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In its statement on the lifting of the moratorium, the center outlined a process for filing complaints about events held in its space, saying that if community members “feel that hate speech or bigotry has occurred at the Center,” they can file a written complaint.

Schulman said in an email to the Forward on February 19 that the center had yet to respond to a resubmitted request to rent space for the event. She praised the reported reversal of the ban.

“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 in an email.

The moratorium was imposed in 2011, following a controversy over an activist group’s plans to rent space for a party associated with the pro-Palestinian nationwide event known as IsraelI Apartheid Week. At the time, the pro-Israel gay activist Michael Lucas threatened to organize a boycott by donors if the event was allowed to go forward. In response to efforts by Lucas and others, the center announced that it would no longer allow any Israel-related events to be held in its space.

In an interview days before the moratorium was lifted, Lucas noted that because of the moratorium, he had not brought his new pro-Israel film about gay life in Israel to the center, either.

“People should be able to talk about whatever they want to talk about,” said Lucas, who is a gay porn film producer. “It’s just the venue’s wrong. People can bring their hate wherever they want.”

Lucas responded strongly to news of the lifting of the ban. “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,” he wrote in an email.

Almost immediately after the moratorium was lifted, a group of gay elected officials praised the new guidelines. The group included Quinn, who is running for mayor, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and state Sen. Brad Holman. In the same statement, the officials criticized the notion of pinkwashing.


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