Me & Harvey, Round 3A. Oy vey.

A. Of course today I’d meant to post about the HMF day – and only that. And I will get to that.Sometimes things are not quite so cut and dried. That post is written but current events that directly inform the HMF have pressed themselves upon me.  I have written a long post, now divided into three parts (A, B, C) connecting the very real decisions taken by Pride Toronto (TO) to Sarasota’s Harvey Milk Festival. There are dire doings going on back home. I would be remiss to not acknowledge what is happening there in light of what I am doing here. The connection between Harvey’s life, work and message and the path Pride TO has embarked upon is shaping this historical moment – making what happened in Sarasota that much more meaningful.

In TO, we have a group of queer Jews/Muslims/Christians/Agnostics, etc., a diverse group, who has been outraged by Israeli government policy towards the Palestinians – Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA). The group’s name is a purposeful deployment of language (‘apartheid’) to provoke associations between the systemic, institutionalized racist and discriminatory policy towards black South Africans successfully dismantled in the 1990s.

Opponents of QuAIA are outraged and offended by their use of ‘apartheid’ to describe Israeli government policy.

Of course, the Israeli-Arab conflict has become institutionalized, no matter the government, on both sides and all in between. Peace emerges from boots on the ground action, often as a result of thoughtful and sincere negotiation. Both sides have broken the rare moments of trust.

Dis-enfranchisment, anti-miscegenation, separation by force, coerced unemployment, military barrage, bombings…in response to Palestinian suicide bombers and years of rocket attacks on Jewish settlements encroaching upon the land. The ‘separation by force’, anti-miscegenation and coerced unemployment, among other policies, feeds the notion that ‘apartheid’ best describes Israeli policy.

In Euro-North America, there is monolithic support of the Israeli government.  Any criticism of Isreali government policy is taken as anti-semitism. As an American, I’ve always been suspicious of the demonization of dissent – especially by my own government. The Israeli-Arab conflict is no different. Since the early 1950’s, around the time of the formation of the modern state of Isreal, my country has nourished and fed a mono-lithic military industrial complex, often in the support of Israel. Of course this is strategic geo-politics given the oil underneath the region. Morally, this ‘complex’ (material hardware and immaterial ideas) is justified by the pursuit of democracy, freedom and human rights. These moral rationalizations are often implemented, perhaps deployed is a better word, as a warhead or, today, an unmanned drone.

As a relatively young American, this has brought me and many others here a great deal of shame. Criticism of Isreali government policy, on my part or on the part of Israeli citizens or the residents of Gaza, is in the pursuit of peace. Of course, there are war mongers and opposers of peace on both sides. But for me, and people like me, taking sides in such a complex situation, stretching over centuries, seems like something a grade-school intellect might pursue. It whitewashes (and I use that term purposefully) the very real substantive disagreements  to avoid sincere and productive solutions. Many of us wonder if there will ever be a ‘solution’ because any solution must come from the parties involved.

Next up in Me & Harvey 3B.… get-out-of-jail-free cards and neutering the substance of swastikas, anti-semitism and hate-speech. Oy vey.

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~ by Thom on May 26, 2010.

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