Citation and Censorship: The Politics of Talking About the Sexual Politics of Israel
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In response to critics’ claims that a discussion of sexuality and nationalism vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict bears no relation to the author’s previous work, or to such discussions within the US or European contexts, this paper details the complex interconnections between Israeli gay and lesbian rights and the continued oppression of Palestinians. The first section examines existing discourses of what the author has previously called “homonationalism,” or the process by which certain forms of gay and lesbian sexuality are folded into the national body as the Muslim/Arab Other is cast as perversely queer, within Israel and the diasporas. The operations of homonationalism ensure that no discussion of gay and lesbian rights in Israel is independent from the state’s actions toward Palestine/Palestinians. The second section contains a critique of Israel’s practices of “pinkwashing” in the US and Europe. In order to redirect focus away from critiques of its repressive actions toward Palestine, Israel has attempted to utilize its relative “gay-friendliness” as an example of its commitment to Western “democratic” ideals. Massive public relations campaigns such as “Brand Israel” work to establish Israel’s reputation within the US and Europe as cosmopolitan, progressive, Westernized and democratic as compared with the backward, repressive, homophobic Islamic nations, which, in turn, serves to solidify Israel’s aggression as a position of the “defense” of democracy and freedom. The final section looks at the ways in which accusations of “anti-Semitism” function in academic and activist contexts to suppress critiques of the implicit nationalism within Israeli sexual politics.
KeywordsIsrael Palestine Sexuality Politics LGBT Pinkwashing
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