Adonis Diaries

Whitewash Rainbow Flag from West Bank barrier of shame: Palestinian protesters

Posted on: July 8, 2015

Whitewash rainbow flag from West Bank barrier: Palestinian protesters

Palestinian protesters have whitewashed a rainbow flag painted on six slabs of the West Bank separation barrier.

Khaled Jarrar, the Palestinian painter of the piece, said his art was meant as a reminder of Israeli occupation, at a time when gay rights are in the news after the US allowed same-sex marriage.

But protesters perceived the painting as support for homosexuality, a taboo subject in Palestinian society where gay people are not tolerated. (That should be the least of their worries and indignities)

It ignited angry responses and activists whitewashed the flag on Monday night, just a few hours after it was painted on the best-known section of Israel’s graffiti-covered barrier, next to a portrait of Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian figures.

Jarrar, 39, who has exhibited his work in Europe and the US, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the destruction “reflects the absence of tolerance and freedoms in the Palestinian society”.

“People don’t accept different thinking in our society,” he said, adding he painted the rainbow flag on the barrier to put a spotlight on Palestinian issues.

Israel, meanwhile, has emerged as one of the world’s most gay-friendly travel destinations, in sharp contrast to the rest of the Middle East where gay people are often persecuted and even killed. Earlier this month, more than 100,000 people attended a gay pride parade in Tel Aviv.

Officially there is still no same-sex marriage in Israel, primarily because there is no civil marriage of any kind – all Jewish weddings must be conducted through the rabbinate, which considers homosexuality a sin and a violation of Jewish law. But the state recognises same-sex couples who marry abroad. (Same for Lebanon of a civil marriage)

Same-sex relations are punishable by death in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.

Palestinians who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) face a unique, complex, and often dire set of struggles on multiple fronts.

Palestinian society is in many ways deeply conservative and traditional, so those who identify as LGBTQ often face harsh reactions from their families and communities, ranging from social ostracism to physical violence.

At the same time, LGBTQ Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories regularly face discrimination, denials of civil and human rights, and other forms of violence and inequality as a result of their Palestinian identity.

LGBTQ Palestinians are often urged to choose between being Palestinian and being queer, but these problems are not separable: as LGBTQ Palestinians, our sexual/gender identities and our national/cultural identities are inextricably linked – both in how we understand and identify ourselves and in the struggles we face as individuals and as a community.

Troubled by the absence of an organisation that caters to the specific needs of our community, we – a group of LGBTQ Palestinians who live in Israel and the occupied territories – founded al-Qaws (Arabic for “rainbow”), which became the first legally recognised, autonomous Palestinian LGBTQ organisation in November last year.

Motivated by a vision of a non-hierarchical society that recognises – and values – the diversity of sexual and gender identities, al-Qaws aspires to play a pioneering role in helping to build a just Palestinian society based on tolerance, equality, and openness. We believe that such a society will serve as a source of freedom and creativity and will enrich the lives, not only of LGBTQ Palestinians, but Palestinians in general.

Founded as an autonomous project within the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (JOH) in 2001, al-Qaws obtained non-profit status and became an independent legal entity at the culmination of an intense process of organisational and group work among our leadership group that began in September 2006.

Our desire to form an independent organisation was based on our conviction that this was the only way we could adequately address our specific and growing needs as Palestinian LGBTQs and provide a forum for internal dialogue about our multiple identities and our relationship with Palestinian society at large.

The particular social context in which we live and work provided the original catalyst for al-Qaws, but it also shapes our overall mission and our daily work. In contrast to many western societies, where queer communities and movements have matured over the past several decades, the queer Palestinian community is still nascent, at best.

Besides that, the dominant western constructs of queer identity do not have the same relevance for many Palestinians, who are left without a culturally meaningful set of narratives around which to organise a movement and understand their identities and desires. The result is that most LGBTQ Palestinians face two equally unsatisfactory options. One is to conform with local cultural norms and live outwardly “heterosexual” lives. The other is to risk persecution by adopting an identity that many Palestinians associate with the west. Al-Qaws is therefore determined, not simply to mimic an existing model of queer identity/community, but to provide a social space for LGBTQ Palestinians to independently engage in a dialogue about our own visions and ideals for a community.

More broadly, we aim to promote transformation and change in Palestinian society by, on one hand, challenging social attitudes and religious taboos about sexuality and gender and, on the other hand, advancing the social engagement and contributions of LGBTQ Palestinians through empowerment, education, and the development of leadership skills.

At the same time, however, we emphasise that LGBTQ Palestinians face pressures, not just from Palestinian society, but from the wider context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. LGBTQ Palestinians’ struggles are a complex result of problems internal to Palestinian society and the harsh realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Al-Qaws aims to serve the needs of LGBTQ Palestinians with an eye to both sides of this equation, and although we are hopeful and determined, we are also recognise the limits the political situation places on our ability to bring change.

For example, while Palestinians in Israel, Jerusalem, and the occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza constitute one community, our different legal statuses and the different realities of each of these locations – including, for example, restrictions on the freedom of movement of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza – severely constrain our ability to meet as a community.

Despite these obstacles, al-Qaws is actively engaged in promoting the development and growth of the Palestinian LGBTQ community in Israel and the Palestinian National Authority. Because this process is inherently linked with the wider struggle to build an equal, diverse, tolerant and open society, al-Qaws is an enthusiastic partner with those who share our vision of a vibrant Palestinian civil society that honours the human and civil rights of all individuals, including those who do not conform to cultural or religious norms of gender and sexuality.

Al-Qaws is currently engaged, for example, in the preparatory stages of a joint research project with local human rights organisations in the West Bank.

This innovative project will examine, for the first time ever, attitudes of social justice activists, human rights activists, and LGBTQs in the West Bank toward the taboo topic of sexual diversity/orientation.

This research will draw attention to the problem of LGBTQ civil and human rights in Palestinian society, inform the scope of our future awareness-raising programmes and educational outreach, and ultimately, we hope, initiate public debates among human rights, women’s, and social justice organisations on frequently ignored issues of gender and sexual identity

Another upcoming research project of al-Qaws will investigate alternatives to the western model of homosexuality/sexual diversity, informed by our own cultures, values, and histories.

The western model, in which “visibility” and “coming out of the closet” are central motifs, is not practical or meaningful for many LGBTQ Palestinians. In order to deal effectively with the actual experiences and needs of LGBTQ Palestinians, a new and more relevant model that responds to our unique historical and cultural context is urgently needed.

In addition to these long-term research projects, al-Qaws is engaged in regular projects that have immediate impacts on the lives of LGBTQ Palestinians in Jerusalem, Yaffa-Tel Aviv, the northern region of Israel, and the West Bank (as often as possible given the political limitations).

For example, we have organised workshops to develop activist and leadership skills among LGBTQ Palestinians, as well as meetings to discuss issues of sexuality and gender more generally.

Additionally, because one of our goals is to provide a safe space for members of the community, we regularly organise social events where LGBTQ Palestinians can feel free to meet and socialise.

And al-Qaws’s LGBTQ Arabic website, one of few such websites, has been a particularly valuable tool, both for networking and educational purposes. More than 1,000 people from Israel-Palestine and beyond have participated in Arabic discussion forums on issues of gender and sexuality since we developed the site.

These are only a few of the many projects in which al-Qaws is engaged, and we are constantly searching for new and innovative ways to respond to the diverse needs of LGBTQ Palestinians. To be sure, ours is not an easy job.

We are fully aware of the complexities of this moment and the challenges that lie ahead. But our move towards independence is an exciting change, and we believe that it will open new opportunities for LGBTQ Palestinians – and also, if less directly, for all Israelis and Palestinians – to imagine, and create, a future based on equality and respect for our differences, rather than the petty prejudices and injustices that characterise so many of our lives

Andrew Bossone  and  Carol Mansour shared and commented on this link.

Not impressed with the shaping of this narrative. Very simplistic. And what the hell does the “Israel, meanwhile…” have to do with this piece?

Israel, meanwhile has giant gay parades, so it is the epitome of tolerance….right.

Never mind the occupation, look at our rainbow feather boas….

Obnoxious. And this is why the move was silly for those who painted over it.

I knew it was inevitable such a fluff piece would come out. Tanya Habjouqa

Khaled Jarrar, a Palestinian artist, said he had meant to call attention to Israeli occupation at a time when gay rights are in news, but flag was labelled ‘shameful’
theguardian.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2015
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Blog Stats

  • 1,416,933 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 768 other followers

%d bloggers like this: