Thursday, March 17, 2011

Israeli Gays to Speak at
SF Forum on Sunday

Over the past few weeks, San Francisco has been positively jumping with gay visitors from other countries coming here to talk about their lives, struggles as activists and political issues at the local level.

In February, several young gay Palestinians were in the Bay Area for a number of public events and I was not aware of their visit until after they left. A post at the Bay Guardian blog was how I learned they had been here. From the post:

Queer Palestinian activists are on tour in the Bay Area speaking about queer struggles in the context of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. ... [They are from] the organizations Aswat and Al Qaws ...

Most asked be be identified by their first names only, fearing discrimination for the sexual orientation and reprisals for speaking out. ...

The Bay Guardian unfortunately gave no explanation about from whom they fear discrimination, be it the Israeli government or the Palestinian Authority or other forces, and I think it's an important concern that should have been addressed.

This Sunday, from 6:00 to 7:30 PM at Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, located at 290 Dolores Street at the corner of 16th, a panel from the Israel Gay Youth Organization will share their personal stories and they are identified with their full names. Here's more info on the speakers:

Sam Rosenfeld
18.5 years old is transgender, female to male. ...

Shirel Touitou
20 years old; born in the settlement of Kiryat Arba, to an Ultra Orthodox religious family. ...

Itzik Sussan
19.5 years old soldier in the Israeli Air Force; works as an IT specialist.

Anna Shilansky
18 year old senior in a private high school. She lives in the city of Raanana ...

I'm not sure if I'll be able to attend and hear what the gay Israeli youth have to say, but if I do, there will be a report and some pix posted here afterward.


Sarah Schulman said...


I organized the US Tour of Palestinian Queers - it was an amazing 6 city tour that attracted huge crowds. In NY 220 people were turned away from CLAGS and The Audre Lorde Project event had two overflow rooms with video feed. The Bay Area events were also huge - 300 at Mission High, moderated by Cherrie Moraga and another packed house in Oakland, moderated by Alia Aud and other activists from the Queer Arab Community.

The speakers were : Haneen MaiQay - far from being the frigtened person you depict, Haneen was just named onf of the top 10 Arab women in the world by the London Guardian, as well as Sami Shamali alQaws in Ramallah, West Bank and Ghadir from Aswat: Gay Palestinian Women in Haifa.

The reason not every name was complete was because of familial homophobia - which many Americans face as well as new Israel laws against advocating for certain movement critical of ISraeli government policies. These laws are highly punitive and are under serious consideration in the Knesset. FYI Homosexuality has been legal in the West Bank since the 1950's.

I want to inform you that the San Francisco area is awash in Pinkwashing- a deliberate attempt by the ISraeli government to sell itself as pro-gay as a way to get global queers to overlook or Pinkwash human rights violations against Palestinians.

We have to be aware that even though there is viable gay life in parts of Tel Aviv, that does not mean that Israel as a whole is a pro-gay environment and it CERTAINLY does not erase the violations of international law and immoral practices against Palestinians. As Haneen, Sami and Ghadir made clear over and over again, Palestinian Queers need an end to the Occupation as much as they need to deal with homophobia and sexism from two patriarchal societies.

Check it out Mike!

Yours, Sarah Schulman

Unknown said...

hi sarah,

thanks for all that additional info. allow me to clarify one point you make about my post.

i did not describe any of the palestinian speakers who passed through the bay area as frightened people. i wanted to know why they didn't use their last names at the SF forum.

maybe the problem on this one matter is the reporting from the bay guardian?

seems odd that the guardian said the activists didn't want to use their last names, and you have no issue sharing that info.

really hoping to make it to the discussion on sunday with the israeli gays.