The Seattle Times is reporting that some activists are protesting Mayor Ed Murray’s upcoming trip to israel, where he will give the keynote address at 40 Years of Pride, the global LGBTQ leadership conference sponsored by A Wider Bridge and The Aguda.
Despite the anti-Israel protests, Mayor Murray expressed no intention to cancel his trip in June. “I respectfully disagree with those who are attempting to characterize my trip to Israel as an attempt to ‘pinkwash’ Israel’s relationship with Palestinians,” Mayor Murray told the Seattle Times. “I am a strong supporter of the state of Israel’s right to exist and the right of its people to live safely and without fear of violence. I also just as strongly believe in a two-state solution … On my trip to Israel, I will make both of those positions clear.”
The 40 Years of Pride conference will bring together a diverse group of LGBTQ leaders from around the world this summer in Israel from June 9th – June 11th. For two and a half days, leaders from around the world will gather in the heart of Tel Aviv, home to a dynamic and vibrant LGBTQ community, to inspire and strengthen each other, build skills and networks, and celebrate 40 years of LGBTQ progress in Israel, all culminating with the ever-fabulous weekend of Tel Aviv Pride, a celebration that attracts 150,000 people from across the world.
“We hope that having this conference in Israel will begin to move our global LGBTQ community away from the self-defeating strategy advocated by those who insist that we need to shut down the voices of those with whom we may disagree,” said Arthur Slepian, executive director of A Wider Bridge.
“The Israeli LGBT community is not a creature of the Israeli government,” Slepian adds. “The progress that Israel has made in LGBT rights was achieved through years of struggle on many fronts, not granted by the government as part of a branding or tourism campaign.”
The accusation of “Pinkwashing” is raised quite often in relations to the progress of the LGBT community in Israel. Israeli filmmaker and activist Gal Uchovsky, who’s currently on speaking tour in the U.S., invites people who’d like to understand the issue better to his talks in New York, Chicago, Palo Alto, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“I explain in my talks why all of the things that are considered Pinkwashing are totally not pinkwashing and are actually things that are more substantial and important to the community,” Uchovsky told Jerusalem Post. “I think this is complete nonsense, trying to use the LGBT community in order to discuss the Israeli-Palestine conflict. As a left-wing person who believes that Israel is the bad side in this conflict, the conqueror side. For me there’s no discussion about it. But to try to put it together with the LGBT issue is just irrelevant.”