Last week, the Hollywood Reporter broke news that “a group of more than 130 names from the film world, including at least 100 LGBTQIA+ filmmakers and film artists, have signed a pledge to boycott TLVFest … LGBT film festival, in what they say is solidarity with Palestinian members of the LGBTQIA+ community.”
This move is yet another aspect of the madness created by disinformation, misinformation, and sheer manipulation of reality in the Middle East, and it is a danger and a threat to anyone who actually supports LGBTQIA+ rights and human rights around the world.
I suspect—or at least hope—that the majority of the signatories of the above-mentioned petition didn’t actually know what they are signing off on, so in order to set the record straight, let me explain.
Israel is the only country in the entire Middle East, in which the LGBTQIA+ community can not only live life safely and freely but also thrive. In a region with 17 countries and a population of nearly half a billion people, only one country not just allows but celebrates gays and their rights. Why, then, is Israel, of all Middle Eastern nations being singled out for criticism?
The answer to this question is BDS, an anti-Israel movement that has managed, through the use of woke terms such as justice and freedom, to dupe a large amount of well-intending left wingers around the world to think that they are actually about just that: peace, freedom and justice for all. But they are not.
To start, BDS has exactly zero peace solutions. They do not advocate, like the majority of Israelis and Palestinians, for a two-state solution in which both peoples live peacefully side by side. Instead, they support the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state, which they publicize openly on their website. I suspect most people who signed the movement’s latest petition did not take the time to read up on the movement’s platform.
But even if you do read through it, you may find yourself perplexed, as the movement cunningly creates a new reality which is far from real.
Take, for example, the following quote. “Israel,” the BDS movement alleges on its website, “uses alleged ‘security concerns’ to justify its siege on Gaza by land, sea and air since 2006.”
Sounds terrible, right? What BDS fails to mention is the thousands of missiles which were fired and are still being fired at Israeli cities from Hamas-occupied Gaza. This is what prompted the blockade, which was actually imposed on Gaza by Israel and Egypt in 2007, after Hamas took over the strip. The BDS movement also fails to mention the grizzly way Hamas took over Gaza: By killing PA members, lynching them, and throwing them off of rooftops. Just imagine one American political party winning an election and then brutally murdering their opponents.
Finally, missing from the BDS movement’s propaganda is an admission of the most blatant fact: that Hamas is a radical religious terrorist organization that enforces Sharia law, the very same law which calls for the literal stoning of gays.
The well-intentioned Hollywood folks who signed the latest anti-Israel petition, then, signed a petition released by a movement that supports the people who support the literal murder of LGBTQIA+ individuals.
Israel is not a perfect country, and it is OK to criticize its government for its actions or policies. But the latest petition is nothing but a nefarious attempt to delegitimize a country while turning reality on its head and as a result, endangering liberal voices within the Muslim world.
If you really care about the LGBTQIA+ community, you should be focusing your efforts on working with Arab reformers to make life more tolerable for minorities, gays, and women across the rest of the Middle East. You shouldn’t worry too much about the one nation in the region espousing liberal values; the one nation where you can be openly gay in the military; the one nation where gays like Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz lead political parties; the one nation where the No. 1 and most beloved TV host, Assi Azar, is gay; the one nation whose minister of justice himself, Amir Ohana of Likud, is a proud gay father of two; the one nation where the Supreme Court recently enforced paid health benefits to gay couples using surrogacy. This is not pink washing, this is reality. Israel granted its gay citizens full rights long before most of the world’s liberal democracies, the United States included, ever did. To call on allies of the LGBTQIA+ community to single it out is a farce.
So, to my friends in Hollywood, I’ve this to say: If you want to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian LGBTQIA+ community, you should start by demanding that Palestinians—and the rest of the Arab world, for that matter—respect basic LGBTQIA+ rights first. I dare any of the esteemed filmmakers who signed the latest petition to grab their same-sex partner and try making out in public in any other country in the Middle East and see how that goes down.
I suspect that they won’t do that, and I would strongly advise against it. So, instead, I invite them to come to Pride Week in Tel Aviv in June, along with hundred of thousands of tourists from around the world and happily make out on a beach in Tel Aviv. No one will blink an eye, and you will get a lovely tan while you’re at it.
Noa Tishby is an Israeli American actress, producer, writer and activist. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @noatishby.