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Anti-Semitism emerges at Task Force protest

Don’t forget that gays were Holocaust targets, too

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anti-Semitism, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade editorial cartoon by Ranslem)

There were some protesters at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change conference last week who think a disgusting display of anti-Semitism (defined as prejudice against, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews as an ethnic, religious, or racial group) is acceptable. It never was and isn’t today.

The protest at the Creating Changing conference against the reception and presentation organized by A Wider Bridge will forever be a black eye on the Task Force. The mission of the Task Force is clearly stated on its website: “We’re building a future where everyone is free to be themselves in every aspect of their lives. Today, despite all the progress we’ve made to end discrimination, millions of LGBTQ people face barriers in every aspect of their lives: in housing, employment, healthcare, retirement, and basic human rights. These barriers must go. That’s why the Task Force is training and mobilizing millions of activists across our nation to deliver a world where you can be you.”

While I have spoken out against the unjust actions of the Netanyahu government there is also no excuse for the actions of those who vow the destruction of Israel. If the Task Force becomes a place where there can no longer be more than one point of view presented peacefully and we pit our own community against each other for racial, ethnic or religious reasons, it will go out of business as a viable organization because it will not be able to accomplish its mission.

Gay and lesbian people may be on all sides of the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians. We have been on all sides of every political issue because we are thinking people with widely differing views. But the role of the Task Force has to be to work toward the goal, through the open and peaceful exchange of ideas, here in the United States and around the world, that will result in all members of the LGBTQ community no matter where they reside to have the freedom to exist and live their lives to their fullest potential. When that happens it will help all people have freer lives.

The individuals who came from Israel to attend the Creating Change conference were there to discuss what is happening in the LGBT community in Israel. If some wanted to debate their view of that the best way to do it was to peacefully attend the reception and discuss the issues in a rational way. Or they could have worked with the Task Force to set up another panel. What the protesters did was shut down all debate and reasonable exchange with some calling for the destruction of Israel, which in the context of the meeting made no sense at all.

The concept of what some call “pinkwashing” is absurd. I have never excused the excesses of the Israeli government’s actions against some of its Palestinian residents because they happen to be the only nation in the region to give rights to their LGBT citizens. One has nothing to do with the other. In fact those who have their full rights can work harder for those who don’t. How does not talking about the rights given to the LGBT community in Israel help those living in states that discriminate against the community? That is totally irrational.   

I write as a first-generation American whose mother escaped the Nazis in Austria and father escaped them in Germany. They came to America for freedom and met in New York. My father’s parents weren’t so lucky and were gassed in Auschwitz. My father joined the U.S. Army and went back to Europe to fight and was awarded a Bronze Star. They spent their lives fighting for equality and brought up my sister and me to do the same. That is why it is so unacceptable to see those who would display anti-Semitism in their fight for other’s rights. Let us never forget gays were rounded up and marched with Jews to the gas chambers.

It is only if we continue to have an open dialogue and stand together that we will succeed in ensuring that in America and around the world, Black Lives Matter. And that women have full equality. And that we recognize that Muslims are not all responsible for jihadist terrorists. And LGBT people have their full rights and those who believe Israelis and Palestinians must have a chance to live in peace will be able to accomplish those goals.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. zionist&proud

    January 26, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    The videos of these young Anti-Semites marching reveal a community of people so tied together with their hatred that I now understand how the Nazis were so successful.

    • QueeRevolutionary

      January 27, 2016 at 2:46 pm

      I do not use the word anti-semite since the rabid Jew bashing German Wilhelm Marr decided that anti-semite sounded better than JudenHass – Jew Hate. I use the correct word JEW BASHING FASCIST. All those Jew bashers running NGLTF and Creating Change must be fired or all funding should be cut to those fascists terrorists.

      http://www.antisemitism.org.il/eng/Wilhelm%20Marr

  2. scottrose

    January 26, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    All of the CEOs and other top brass who give money to the Task Force must be made aware of what happened.

    The thuggery was largely instigated by GetEqual, whose Board Chair is Tanya Domi. Either Domi clean house, leaves the organization with a public explanation of why she is leaving, or she has to be held accountable for this antisemitic attack.

    GetEqual’s current Facebook banner page incites to deny the invited gay Israeli guests a chance to speak at the conference.

    GetEqual’s Eyad Alkurabi can be seen in many ofl the videos firing up the crowd and leading the chant of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

    One interesting thing here is that Tanya Domi is a fervid supporter of Hillary Cinton, whose website says that a threat to Israel’s security is a threat to America’s security. My salient opinion in all of this is that freedom of association and freedom of speech apply for foreign invited conference participants. Intimidating invited guests out of speaking is just thuggery.

    But I also think that Domi can’t have it both ways; she can’t be Board Chair of a group that wants Israel gone, and still pretend that she’s a reasonable and decent person supporting candidates who allege that they support Israel.

    Domi also works as CUNY Graduate Center’s Director of Media Relations. When there was an antisemitic mob intimidating people there, they were demanding that all CUNY administration who support Israel be removed from their positions.

    I have some reason to believe — though I am not asserting this as a fact — that Domi was involved in that.

    Tanya Domi the Board Chair. If she thinks what her underlings are doing is wrong, then she needs to get rid of them, or else quit the organization and tell the public why she quit. At present, she is complicit. And the reason I am furious, is that in the Middle East, Europe and here, violence against Jews — irrespective of any level of association they may have with Israel — is being justified because “Israel.” Anybody who is part of allowing Nazi jihadists to intimidate gay Israelis out of speaking in America must be condemned.

    In the past few months, there have been three separate stabbing attacks against Jews by ISIS supporters in Marseille, France.

    An Israeli wearing a yarmulke toured the refugee facilities in Germany and found the walls full of swastika graffiti and the Star of David with “666” written underneath it.

    The people were overtly hostile to him.

    There’s a Youtube video showing a mob of Arabs marching in Berlin, yelling in German “Jew, Jew, cowardly swine; come on out and fight alone.”

    If Tanya Domi really does not like the Nazi Jihadist tactics of her GetEqual colleagues, then it is beyond time for her to clean house or get out of that shameful antisemitic hate group.

  3. QueeRevolutionary

    January 27, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    That POGROM in the National LGBT Task Force Fascist Creating Change was CRIMINAL and those terrorists should have been arrested. It is time for Sue Hyde and Rea Carey to be fired for inciting and allowing that pogrom and continuing to side with the terrorists. NEVER AGAIN means NEVER AGAIN.

    I am the granddaughter of grandparents who escaped pogroms in Czarist Russia and Hungary, and the daughter of a first generation American Jewish father who fought the Nazis in Europe.

    All the foundations that fund NGLTF and all the LGBT News including Washington Blade must NEVER AGAIN fund Creating Change if the Jew bashing fascists running that group do not step down.

  4. Brian's Ions

    January 27, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    Thanks, Peter. It should all go without having to be written or said. But I’m sure many of us are appreciative that you shared it with us here so personally, and so powerfully.
    **
    The concept of what some call “pinkwashing” is absurd… That is why it is so unacceptable to see those who would display anti-Semitism in their fight for other’s rights. Let us never forget gays were rounded up and marched with Jews to the gas chambers. **

  5. patrick1425

    January 30, 2016 at 1:31 am

    I commend Peter Rosenstein’s op-ed. It is the best View Point that the Blade has ever published. I condemn the gay liberals to promote the Arab American political agenda of anti-Semitism, hatred, violence, terror and genocide. America must cleanse itself of Arabs.

  6. patrick1425

    January 30, 2016 at 1:38 am

    I commend Peter Rosenstein for his denunciation of the evil National LGBTQ Task Force and all DC gays who promote the hateful DC gay Arab American political agenda of anti-Semitism, terror and genocide. America must free itself of Arab Americans and terrorists. Gay Americans who denounce the State of Israel are terrorists who promote genocide.

    “The Arabs are one of the least developed cultures. They are typically nomads. Their culture is primitive, and they resent Israel because it’s the sole beachhead of modern science and civilization on their continent. When you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the civilized men, no matter who they are.”

    –Ayn Rand, from her Ford Hall Forum lecture. Boston, 1974. Text published on the website of The Ayn Rand Institute, http://www.aynrand.org

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Opinions

Should we be scared of Omicron?

A reminder to stay vigilant against latest mutation

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It’s Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend when I sit down to write this column. The craziness in the world continues but other than the scare of the new COVID mutation, which has been named Omicron, there isn’t one headline to grab attention. Instead, there are many, including some manufactured by the news media to gain viewers or sell papers. Some like the car rampaging through the Christmas parade is frightening but incidents like this seem to be happening all too often.  

The stock market went down 1,000 points on Friday because market players freaked out about the new COVID mutation coming out of South Africa. However that didn’t seem to stop people from spending their money on Black Friday. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) was again on the attack this time against fellow Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) accusing her of being a Muslim terrorist. She apologized, or pretended to, but again the Republican leadership wouldn’t condemn her statements. These things seemed to be grist for the news media with no one else unfortunately really voicing concern. 

Boebert’s comments were taken as old hat. They are disgusting, offensive, and dangerous, but as long as her constituents reelect her we will have to live with them. She is joined by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.),  Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), and Paul Gosar  (R-Wyo.) who represent the worst in Congress and the worst of the American people. Yet again until their constituents throw them out we have to live with their stupidity and the absurdity of their being where they are. 

The new COVID mutation out of South Africa is potentially a game changer. But it will be important for scientists to look at this carefully to determine how quickly it spreads and whether or not the current vaccines will offer any protection against it. Countries around the world, including the United States, have quickly instituted travel bans for South Africans and those in countries surrounding it. The World Health Organization at this time has suggested this should not be done as it will have limited impact on its spreading and could have severe and detrimental economic impact on countries whose people are being banned. One thing we must learn from this is how important it is to ensure everyone all over the world has access to vaccines as we know the more people who are inoculated the harder it is for the virus to mutate. It is not time to panic yet and by Sunday there was some reporting this new mutation may not be any more difficult to deal with than the current ones and not lead to any more severe illness. The takeaway from all this is we need to keep vigilant, get vaccinated and get booster shots, and make sure we vaccinate our children. Continue to wear masks indoors and wash our hands. 

Now the other interesting stories last weekend were about what will happen in the Senate in the weeks leading up to the Christmas holidays. Remember the House of Representatives passed President Biden’s Build Back Better bill as a reconciliation measure, which means it can pass the Senate with a simple majority. That would mean every Democratic senator and the vice president. The focus is on two senators: Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sinema (D-Ariz.). In reality we need to look at a number of others who will fight to either take out or put something into the bill the House passed. It is clear it will not pass in the current form and then it has to go back to the House again. 

Another issue that will be taken up is the debt ceiling. It may be a little easier than thought because as recently reported, “After taking a hard line and refusing to negotiate with Democrats during the last standoff over the debt limit, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is quietly looking for a way to get the issue resolved without another high-profile battle.” Then there is the budget and since none is passed Congress will have to pass another continuing resolution since the one they passed in September expires on Dec. 3. 

So for the next few weeks there will be a focus on the Senate to see what they do and how obstructionist Republicans want to be. Seems while things change, they somehow remain the same.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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It doesn’t take a miracle

Hanukkah a time for LGBTQ Jews to celebrate full identity

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(Public domain photo)

For Jews around the world, Sunday night marked the beginning of Hanukkah. The story of Hanukkah celebrates the liberation of Jerusalem by the Maccabees, a small and poorly armed group of Jews who took on, and defeated, one of the world’s most powerful armies. 

Upon entering Jerusalem, the Maccabees saw that there was only enough oil to light the Temple’s eternal flame for one night. But the oil lasted eight nights — enough time for new oil to be prepared. The eternal flame remained lit, and light triumphed over darkness.

The story of Hanukkah was a miracle. While we celebrate and commemorate that miracle, we should also remember that it doesn’t take a miracle for one person to make a difference. 

The entire world is shaking beneath our feet. The climate is in crisis and our planet is in danger. A viral contagion has claimed the lives of millions, and there’s no clear end in sight. Creeping authoritarianism threatens the entire world, including here at home.

Sometimes it seems like it will take a miracle to solve even one of these problems. The reason these problems seem so overwhelming is because they are — no one person can fix it themselves.

Here in the LGBTQ community, we have made enormous strides, and we ought to be proud of them. But there is so much more work to be done.

Not everyone in our community is treated equally, and not everyone has the same access to opportunity. Black, brown and trans LGBTQ people face systemic and structural disadvantages and discrimination and are at increased risk of violence and suicide. It must stop.

These are big problems too, and the LGBTQ people as a collective can help make the changes we need so that light triumphs over darkness. But it doesn’t take a miracle for individuals to light the spark.

Our movement is being held back by the creeping and dangerous narrative that insists that we choose between our identities instead of embracing all of them. 

The presentation of this false choice has fallen especially hard on LGBTQ Jews, many of whom feel a genuine connection to and support for Israel. They feel marginalized when asked to sideline their identity by being told that the world’s only Jewish state shouldn’t even have a place on the map. And they feel attacked when asked about the Israeli government’s policies during a conflict, as if they have some obligation to condemn them and take a stand simply because of their faith.

One of the ways we can shine our light is to fight for an LGBTQ community that is truly inclusive.

This holiday season, pledge to celebrate all aspects of your identity and the rights of LGBTQ people to define their own identities and choose their own paths. If you feel the pressure to keep any part of your identity in the closet, stand up to it and refuse to choose. 

In the face of enormous challenges that require collective action, we must not give up on our power as individuals to do what’s right. It doesn’t take a miracle to do that.

The tradition of lighting the menorah each night represents ensuring the continuity of that eternal flame. One of the reasons the Hanukkah menorah is displayed prominently in the windows of homes and in public squares is because the light isn’t meant to be confined to the Jewish home. The light is for everyone — and a reminder that we can share it with the world every day to try to make it better.

As long as we keep fighting for justice, we don’t need to perform miracles. But we do need to do our part so that light triumphs over darkness.

It is up to each of us to map out what we can contribute to create a truly inclusive LGBTQ community. This holiday season, be the light. If you can, donate to a group that helps lift LGBTQ youth in crisis. Volunteer your time to fight for the rights and the lives of trans people. And be kind to one another.

Whether you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or of no faith at all, take this opportunity to share your light with the world. It doesn’t take a miracle to do that.

Ethan Felson is the executive director of A Wider Bridge.

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Opinions

Trend of banning books threatens our freedom

‘History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas’

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National Book Festival, gay news, Washington Blade

I knew Helen Keller was a DeafBlind activist. But, until recently, I didn’t know that some of her books were torched.

Nearly 90 years ago, in 1933 Germany, the Nazis added “How I Became a Socialist,” by Keller to a list of “degenerate” books. Keller’s book, along with works by authors from H.G. Wells to Einstein were burned. 

The Nazi book burnings were horrific, you might think, but what does this have to do with the queer community now?

I speak of this because a nano-sec of the news tells us that book censorship, if not from literal fires, but from the removal from school libraries, is alive and well. Nationwide, in small towns and suburbs, school boards, reacting to pressure from parents and politicians, are removing books from school libraries. Many of these books are by queer authors and feature LGBTQ+ characters.

Until recently, I didn’t worry that much about books being banned. My ears have pricked up, every year, in September when Banned Books Week is observed. Growing up, my parents instilled in me their belief that reading was one of life’s great pleasures as well as a chance to learn about new ideas – especially, those we disagreed with. The freedom to read what we choose is vital to democracy, my folks taught me. 

“I don’t care if it’s ‘Mein Kampf,’” my Dad who was Jewish told me, “I’ll defend to my death against its being banned.”

“Teachers should be allowed to teach it,” he added, “so kids can learn what a monster Hitler was.”

In this country, there have always been people who wanted to ban books from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by writer and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe to gay poet Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.”

In the 1920s, in the Scopes trial, a Tennessee science teacher was fined $100 for teaching evolution. (The law against teaching evolution in Tennessee was later repealed.)

But, these folks, generally, seemed to be on “the fringe” of society. We didn’t expect that book banning would be endorsed by mainstream politicians.

Until lately.

Take just one example of the uptake in book-banning: In September, the Blade reported, Fairfax County, Virginia public school officials said at a school board meeting that two books had been removed from school libraries to “reassess their suitability for high school students.”

Both books – “Lawn Boy” a novel by Jonathan Evison and “Gender Queer: A Memoir” by non-binary author Maia Koabe feature queer characters and themes, along with graphic descriptions of sex.

Opponents of the books say the books contain descriptions of pedophilia. But, many book reviewers and LGBTQ students as well as the American Library Association dispute this false claim.

The American Library Association honored both books with its Alex Award, the Associated Press reported. The award recognizes the year’s “10 books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18.”

Given how things have changed for us queers in recent years – from marriage equality to Pete Buttigieg running for president – it’s not surprising that there’s been a backlash. As part of the blowback, books by queer authors with LGBTQ+ characters have become a flashpoint in the culture wars.

As a writer, it’s easy for me to joke that book banning is fabulous for writers. Nothing improves sales more than censorship.

Yet, there’s nothing funny about this for queer youth. My friend Penny has a queer son. “LGBTQ kids need to read about people like themselves,” she told me. “It’s horrible if queer kids can’t find these books. They could become depressed or even suicidal.”

If we allow books to be banned, our freedom to think and learn will be erased.

“History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas,” Keller wrote in a letter to students in Nazi Germany.

Anti-queer officials may remove LGBTQ books from school libraries. But, our thoughts will not be unshelved.

Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

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