Peri Feldstein, a student at Washington University who coordinated the event with Israeli gay rights champion Etai Pinkas, answers “pinkwashing” claims by Israel-haters.
Etai Pinkas, a renowned champion of human rights and social justice, visited our campus this past week to share his experiences as an Israeli environmentalist and LGBTQIA* activist. Etai spoke to over 100 members of the Washington University community at events sponsored by numerous organizations, including the Office of Sustainability, Student Union, the National Organization for Minority Architecture Students and Nice Jewish Queers.
As the person who coordinated these events, I am compelled to respond to the inflammatory op-ed recently published by Students for Justice in Palestine.
I brought Etai to campus in my role as Israel Intern through a joint program between WashU Hillel and the Jewish United Fund’s Israel Education Center. Both professionally and personally, Etai embodies the fundamental priorities that we value here at Washington University. The University identifies diversity and inclusion, global engagement, energy, environment, sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship as its core values; all of which speak to Etai’s work as environmental activist and advocate for LGBTQIA* rights. His presence at Wash. U. served to lift up the campus community by displaying leadership in all of these fields. Etai’s impassioned commitment to human rights and social justice makes him a role model for students seeking to affect positive change.
As a dedicated LGBTQIA* activist, Etai has utilized the Israeli judicial system as a key tool for social change. He has brought multiple lawsuits to the Israeli Supreme Court to challenge same-sex marriage recognition and surrogacy rights for same-sex couples.
Israel was recently ranked seventh of 127 countries in terms of safe places for LGBTQIA* people; however, Etai discussed that there is still a lot of work yet to be done. He highlighted efforts to affect important change by utilizing the democratic channels available in Israel. Etai’s challenges to the judicial system are important in expanding rights for all citizens of Israel. While marriage in Israel is under the jurisdiction of religious authorities—Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc.—Supreme Court rulings apply to all citizens of Israel, thereby providing more comprehensive and widespread impact in expanding LGBTQIA* rights.