PQBDS (Palestinian Queers for BDS) succeeds in "IGLYO Out of Israel" campaign & gets to to cancel its General Assembly in Apartheid Israel

Palestinian Queers for BDS (PQBDS) exists to promote Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against race-based, racist Zionist-run Apartheid Israel (see: http://queersagainstapartheid.org/ ).

 

Palestinian Queers for BDS (PQBDS) statement on  their important victory in convincing the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Youth and Student Organization (IGLYO) to reverse its decision to hold its general assembly in Israel (2011): “Palestinian queer groups welcome the decision by the board of IGLYO to withdraw their annual General Assembly conference from Tel Aviv, Israel. Since June 1st, a campaign to get ‘IGLYO Out of Israel’ was launched byPalestinian Queer Groups to protest the organization’s decision to hold its General Assembly in Tel Aviv, and accept funding from the Israeli government, followed by a call to boycott the conference after IGLYO declined to change its location. We take this opportunity to salute IGLYO Member and Associate Organizations who took a principled and moral stance in support of our rights and headed our calls, including NUS-LGBTQ, Kaos-GL and Pembe Hayat fromTurkey; BelonG To, the Ireland LGBT youth organization; and Helem – Lebanese Protection for LQBTIQ, and IGLCN – The International Gay and Lesbian Cultural Network. This can only be seen as a continuation of the beautiful spirit of global solidarity, dominant during the South African anti-apartheid struggle and ongoing in solidarity with the rights of the Palestinian people, and oppressed people everywhere. We also call on other member organizations, and IGLYO to fully respect the Palestinian civil society call for BDS until Israel ends its oppression of the Palestinian people.

Palestinian Queer groups have launched this campaign in protest of the location’s conference, and acceptance of funding from the Israeli government, which directly implicates IGLYO in Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid, and Israeli efforts to ‘re-brand’ Israel. Israeli policies and occupation do not distinguish between queer and straight. All Palestinians—queer and straight— must deal with the effects of Israel’s apartheid system, illegal wall and colonial settlements, and military occupation. Furthermore, Palestinians in Gaza live under medieval and illegal siege, and the largest open-air prison in the world. Like all Palestinian citizens of Israel, queers are subject to institutionalized discrimination in all walks of life, and Palestinian refugees are denied their basic, UN-sanctioned right of return.

In light of this effective and commendable solidarity with our call for boycott of IGLYO’s GA in Israel, this decision by the IGLYO board can only be seen as a direct result of effective pressure from the IGLYO Out of Israel campaign and the strong moral stand taken by several IGLYO member and associate organizations, and other international groups. We urge other believe that Member Organizations and the IGLYO Board of Directors to heed our call, and respect our picket line by boycotting all complicit Israeli institutions, and any events that are in violation of the BDS call.

We, however, were disappointed by the vague reasoning and language used in IGLYO’s statement announcing the cancellation, and the complete ignorance of the calls and reasoning provided by Palestinian queer groups in opposition of the conference’s location. IGLYO cited ‘recent legal changes in Israel’ as a reason for their decision, they did not specify the nature of these changes, or why they are problematic, and thus did not address the underlying issues at the heart of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and thus Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. This kind of wishy-washy reasoning allows IGLYO to back down from an unpopular decision, under pressure, while avoiding taking a stance on Israeli violations. A number of repressive laws have recently been passed in the Israeli parliament, including the anti-BDS law, and the Nakba law, and are part of an ongoing pattern of repressive laws that aim to further narrow the already dismal margin of freedoms available to those protesting Israel’s occupation, colonialism and system of racial discrimination and to effectively criminalize Palestinian non-violent resistance and solidarity with it. These laws, however, are but a part of a 63-year old policy of systematic discrimination against the Palestinian people. It isn’t just recent laws that should raise ‘concerns,’ but all the patently racist laws that have been passed by the Israeli Knesset throughout the last 63 years aiming to maintain a system of domination of one racial group over another…” [1].

[1]. QuAIA congratulates Palestinian Queers for BDS on victory in moving IGLYO meeting from Tel Aviv”, QuAIA,  29 July 2011: http://queersagainstapartheid.org/ .

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