Tyler Gregory, Deputy Director of A Wider Bridge gives an update on the organization’s work.
Over the past several months, we’ve seen a sharp rise in anti-Israel activity in our LGBTQ communities. Some of these episodes have crossed into anti-semitic territory. Many of you remember back in January when our AWB reception at Creating Change in Chicago was shut down by an unruly protest. Last month, A Wider Bridge worked with the Halifax, Nova Scotia LGBTQ and Jewish communities to defeat a measure that would have censored any mention or sign of Israel at Halifax Pride. Two weeks ago, Queer Awareness Month at Columbia University in New York was hijacked by BDS activists with their program “Good Gays, Bad Gays.” And last week in London, an event featuring gay Israeli activist Hen Mazzig faced a violent protest that led to police intervention.
Together with many community partners, we have succeeded in navigating many of these episodes, but crisis-management alone isn’t a proactive, long-term plan.
At A Wider Bridge, we believe the best way for LGBTQ leaders here in the U.S. to understand and engage with Israel is to see the country for themselves and develop their own perspectives based on personal experience. Our missions bring LGBTQ leaders and activists in politics, advocacy, social service and the arts on a journey in which they meet with LGBTQ and allied leaders across Israel and get a first hand look at at many of the successes and challenges of Israeli society. When we get home, we partner with our trip alumni as they share their experience with their professional and personal constituencies in their local communities.
Today, we leave for our 2016 Leadership Mission to Israel with 30 LGBTQ leaders from nearly a dozen cities across the U.S. We’re thrilled about the diverse and talented group joining us, and wanted to introduce you to a few of them before they leave for Israel. Click here for interviews with a few of our participants who are about to get on a plane to Ben Gurion Airport.
We look forward to sharing stories, pictures and video from our trip – and to working with our participants in the coming months as they share the story of their journey in their own LGBTQ communities.