Today (as everyone knows) marks ten years since the tragic terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001. It was on that day that the bubble that many Americans had grown comfortable in, that shield from terrorism and radical Islam’s rise, burst, and we were forced to come to terms with Jihad.
Growing up outside Manhattan, I remember the day clearly. The physical hole left in the iconic skyline of my city mirrored those left in the hearts of everyone who was affected that day as we all struggled to make sense of the tragedy. How could this have happened here was a question that was often heard.
My childhood was marked by 9/11, but it was shaped by Zionism. Unlike many of my eleven year old peers, I knew about terrorism, at least in the abstract. Every day the news of the attacks being committed against Israelis was relayed by my father around the dinner table. I knew about the loss of innocent lives thanks to Palestinian terrorism, about the fear that kept children from riding busses and teenagers from going to dance clubs. But I also knew about the resilience of a people forced to live under fire, whose lives kept going on in spite of the physical manifestation of hatred that marred too many days.
Israelis stood by their American friends in the days, months, and years following 9/11, and continue to do so now, a decade later. The two countries that comprise my home had previously been joined by bonds of democracy, innovation, freedom, and pluralism. On that day they joined one another as victims of terror, and as survivors. Both showed incredible strength by continuing to work towards peace, while knowing their duty to protect their citizens and defend their nations.
While Israelis wept at the sight of the Twin Towers burning, Palestinians danced and celebrated, and glorified the “martyrs” who had perpetrated the attacks. Ten years ago, and today, I fail to understand this reaction. I am heartbroken by it, but at the same time my heart was hardened by it. I saw the videos then, still reeling from the events, and realized how deep the chasm between my mentality and that of a person able to celebrate death and destruction truly was. It caused me to despair, to lose hope in the possibility of a true and lasting peace.
Today, ten years later, the world is different, and the same. There is still no partner for peace, but the hope lives on. I am confident that one day the peace process must prevail, as there is no other way. As the Palestinians seek to sidestep the negotiating table, I know that it will not be September at the UN that brings peace to the Middle East, but rather the eventual acceptance and acknowledgement of Israel’s right to exist. I don’t know when this will come to pass, but I will continue to work towards it with all of my being.
Today, as I consider the events of 9/11, watching the memorial on TV, reading the accounts of survivors in the newspaper, I am struck by the duality of my Zionism and my American patriotism. Both countries that I belong to have proven that they cannot and will not be beaten by terrorism and violence, but rather will rise from the ashes and proudly stand tall as free countries. I am proud to be an Israeli, proud to be an American, and as I remember, I look forward to the world that will exist ten years from now, which I pray will be one of peace.
Israeli "defense" soldier:But you’re getting in our way, don’t you understand? You’re getting in our way.
Israeli Settler:I’ll stand on the side. I’ll stand on this side, but If I see her -referring to 9 year old Ahed Tamimi of the village of Nabi Saleh- coming near [here], remember, it doesn’t matter, 3, 4 or 7 years old, I’ll fuck her over.
The blatant hypocrisy of the “Zionism is Racism” allegation is reflected in the appalling human rights records of the instigators of the accusation (mainly the Arab states) who nearly all are guilty of every kind of insidious bias imaginable, openly practicing discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnic origin, religious belief and political dissidence.
The accusations of racism on the
part of Israel are aimed at its policies which are designed to ensure
the continued existence of the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people – both in terms of its
socio-cultural fabric and in terms of
its physical existence. So in effect,
these accusations are a call on Israel to desist from these policies. Were Israel to heed these calls, it would in
fact imply acquiescing to demands to forgo the Jewishness of Israel – either by allowing a non-Jewish (Muslim) majority to develop and swamp the Jewish population, or by exposing the country’s security to untenable vulnerability.
This would bring about the demise of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews. It would be tantamount to denying a people which, unlike the Palestinians, has a unique religion, a unique language, a unique script, a unique history and unique customs, the right to national self-determination. Moreover it is a call on the Jews to relinquish this right in favor of a people who have no such uniqueness, who commonly refer to Jews as “pigs and monkeys”, and who demand the eradication of any sign of Jewishness in territories under their
administration. Indeed if apartheid
sought to prevent racial mixing, this
is precisely what Israel’s adversaries
endorse. For they demand the exclusion of Jews from Arab lands, the dismantling of Jewish settlements, the expulsion of their inhabitants, and the prohibition on the entry of Jews (not only Jewish Israelis) into
many Arab lands.
It is a remarkable success. Forty-three percent of people who participated in the online survey selected Tel Aviv while New York City came in second with only 14 percent. The world’s gayest apartheid travel destination does have something to prove. As early as 22 December, Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai was telling his Twitter followers about the contest.
Pro-Israel activists had also been promoting the contest on social media.
Tel Aviv is promoted to international gay markets as an extra-Israeli locale, thanks to marketing efforts like Tel Aviv Gay Vibe, which was of course thrilled with the “survey” results.
Shai Doitsh, brand manager of the Tel Aviv Gay Vibe tourism campaign, told Ynet shortly after learning of the results: “This makes us very proud.
“This is the peak of six years of activity and further proof that the decision made by the Tourism Ministry and Tel Aviv Municipality to invest in gay tourism and put their faith in the program we built was the right decision.
Promoting gay Tel Aviv with violence, orientalism
One promoter caught my eye – Arisa Party, a Tel Aviv club that bills itself as “the world’s first gay Middle-Eastern party.” Arisa has become more involved in Israeli state hasbara and pinkwashing, and its promotional material relies on orientalist, violent drag performance for humor.
I first learned about Arisa Party from a video where Israeli gay club celebrity Uriel Yekutiel perform Nivin’s “Ma Asita Li” a hebraized version of the Arabic song “Ya ma sawa” composed by the Rahbani Brothers and made famous by Georgette Sayegh*.
The video depicts Israeli model Eliad Cohen brutally beating Yekutiel who appears as a feminized Arab, and this violence is meant to amuse. It’s not the only video that features abuse and violence. In another video for Eilat Pride 2011, Yekutiel announces his departure to Eilat but when the flight is cancelled, Cohen turns violent and cruel.
The Arisa Party is an official hasbara vehicle for the State of Israel
In November, the Arisa Party visited Brazil to participate in the 19th Annual Mix Brazil Festival of Sexual Diversity, sponsored by the Consulate-General of Israel in São Paulo (their logo and name can be seen at 1 minute 40 seconds in the video).
Lingering debris of pinkwashing
What’s notable about all of this is that the imagery rather than being liberatory reinforces masculine, orientalist and violent stereotypes. Moreover Israel’s official promotion of Tel Aviv as a “gay destination” focuses exclusively on men. Women are totally absent. This may reflect a reality that the international gay travel industry which Tel Aviv wants to cash in on mirrors other tourism that caters exclusively to male consumers’ sexual fantasies.
Israel’s strategy of pinkwashing – using its supposed support for gay rights to deflect criticism of its violence and oppression against Palestinians – was recently outed in The New York Times, so niche market appeals for tourism may just inspire more calls for boycott.
Disclaimer: the song might have been sung by Sayegh, but it’s Fayrouz that made it famous.
Addition to disclaimer: The author has investigated it and it seems that Sayegh is the original singer of the song
I must say that I don’t understand Christians who value the life of one group over another. Even if American Christians consider Muslims as enemies, in the New Testament Jesus commanded his followers to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. The word he used for “love” in Greek (agapao) means to entertain or to welcome in. This concept seems to be in direct opposition to the doctrine of Islamophobia spread by many Christian evangelical groups in the United States. Moreover, Isaiah says “”Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” The scripture does not apply only to Jews, to the “foreigner” and “alien.” Hundreds of millions of Americans profess to be Christians and believe in the divine inspiration of these verses, so where are these “believers” when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
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