In 2011, I was on the board of rede ex aequo (Portugal’s LGBT youth association) and I was shocked as I witnessed the unfolding of a boycott movement directed at our peers from Israeli Gay Youth (IGY), as they had applied and won the bid to host the 2011 General Assembly of the International Gay Lesbian Youth and Student Organization. As soon as it was announced that IGY had won the bid, a boycott movement was launched (by a “Palestinian” queer organization which organized fundraising parties in Tel Aviv, and operated only in Israel, among other organizations), and pressuring e-mails started raining over all the member organizations, including ours. Almost all e-mails were against holding the GA in Tel Aviv, very few were supportive. Some organizations said they would not send delegates to Tel Aviv, others threatened leaving IGLYO. Some e-mails mentioned “Israel’s 63 year-old occupation”(!). But, despite this, when called to a vote, 55% of the organizations supported the GA in Tel Aviv, 25% abstained, and only 20% voted against it (almost 3-1 yes vs. no ratio). It was clear that the majority was silent. Despite the vote, the pressure increased, and as the Board of IGLYO began pressuring for a 2nd vote, IGY decided to withdraw their application. I was so angry and shocked that day… It was very clear that the silence of the majority gave way to a victory to the hatefilled minority. Some of the few e-mails clearly in support of IGY and the GA came from the Spanish organization Colega-Jaén, which I will quote and you should read:
A delegation from COLEGAS visited Israel last december, and we strongly believe that there are a lot of human rights issues to address in the policies the government is implementing, but what we were sure about is that we were happy to be able to hold hands and kiss our partners in the streets of Tel Aviv… while we didn’t have the courage to do so in Palestinian territories, and neither we did when we visited Ankara a few years ago.
So, if there is an lgbt event to be organised in the middle east area, so that we can safe-guard the integrity of the lgbt participants, that should of course be done in Israel.
And to those who want to appoint how bad the israeli government is, this is a great opportunity to say it out loud in the country itself, to local and international media.
Presidente provincial de Colega-Jaén
(in response to the support for boycott from an Irish organization)
Sometimes is worth it to look at our own history to understand others’…
So, it would be interesting to see how you would have felt back in the 90’s if other activists around Europe would have decided that a british or an irish organisation as yours should be hosting a meeting about LGBT rights because your governments wouldn’t respect human rights…
I guess you would have thought…
“it is so unfair that people who hasn’t even been here in our country think they know everything about us!!!”
So, we really think that it is really a shame that there are people willing to boycot an israeli civil society organisation because they don’t like the things its government does!!!
Then I look back to my own country, SPAIN, and I think that I would feel so frustrated if back in the years 2003 and 2004 someone from any other country would have decided that we couldn’t organise an event about lgbt human rights because our government was participating in the war in IRAK (as the ones from the UK and the USA). And as in the case in Israel with IGY, we also have fundings from the governement…
–> BUT LUCKILY noone accused us, spanish civil society, of being responsible for the mistakes made by our own government
Let’s give 2 other simple exemples: CHINA and RUSSIA
–> Can you imaging saying NO to an event in favour of lgbt rights, organised by a chinese or russian civil society organisation, because Chinese and Russian governments don’t respect Human Rights?
… and I say, ORGANISED by an ngo, and not by the chinese government
… and even if the civil society organisation gets funds from their government (they wished!!!)
We have the feeling that people are so biased about the conflict in Palestian and Israel that they don’t see anymore the differences between STATE, GOVERNMENT and CIVIL SOCIETY (people!!!), when it comes to Israel.
Then, we would like to ask you all:
1–> What is it about Israel, that there are so many people treating its government and its civil society as one?
2–> Do you really believe that the whole israeli civil society supports its government in all its actions? (maybe you should read about the ngo called “circle of parents” and others civil rights organisation opposing its own government)
3–> When raising your concerns about human rights abuses in Palestine-Israel… are we discussing about human rights abuses from israeli government alone or from both Israeli and Palestinian governments, in both sides for the border?
4–> Are you also willing to raise doubts about the right to existance of the state of Israel, or that is out of discussion?
We really think that some of the attacks against IGLYO general assembly being hold in Israel might just be a sign of antisemitism, which reinfources our strong believe that we all should work harder against this form of discrimination, also within the LGBT communities.