An academic conference planned for next year in New York will use Israel’s largely positive record on gay rights to denounce its treatment of Palestinians.
‘Faced with intensifying criticism and the threat of economic boycott, the Israeli government expanded their marketing plan by harnessing Homonationalism to reposition its global image’
City University of New York last week announced Homonationalism and Pinkwashing, a gathering that will provide “an opportunity to examine Queer Resistance and Complicity globally” — but with a special emphasis on Israel. Hosted by CUNY’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, the conference will take Israel to task for “pinkwashing,” a term that accuses the country of promoting its progressive treatment of sexual minorities as a way of diverting attention from its conflict with the Palestinians. “Faced with intensifying criticism and the threat of economic boycott,” the conference website states, “the Israeli government expanded their marketing plan by harnessing Homonationalism to reposition its global image.”
Scheduled for April 2013, the conference is currently in the planning stages, and has sent out a call for papers, with suggested topics including “Arab Jews (Mizrachis) and Occupation/Pinkwashing/Diaspora,” “Queer and The Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions Movement” and “Pinkwashing and Israeli Queer Cinema.” Proposed topics also include ties between right-wing and gay groups in Europe, and the involvement of American evangelicals in the domestic politics of Israel and Uganda.
Based on the list of proposed topics, conference organizers don’t plan to examine the persecution of gays in the Muslim world, except as it pertains to generating Islamophobia and to “justify military assault” in Iraq and Iran.
Coordinating the gathering is Sarah Schulman, a humanities professor at CUNY’s College of Staten Island. Schulman raised the profile of the “pinkwashing” accusation last fall in a controversial New York Times op-ed, in which she argued that Israel’s “gay soldiers and the relative openness of Tel Aviv” shouldn’t be used to distract attention from “the Palestinians’ insistence on a land to call home.”