"Recently a pro-gay ad from Israel popped up on my Facebook feed. It used the metaphor of the closet to push Israeli parents to accept and support their queer kids. I’m queer. I’m Jewish. And I care deeply about queer issues. So why didn’t the ad spark even an ounce of excitement in me? Because I am wary of my queerness being used by Israel. For some time now, Israel has been promoting gay rights to “pinkwash” its image in an attempt to divert attention away from its treatment of Palestinians.
Why Brand Israel? Why Make It Gay?
As Israel’s reputation becomes more and more unpopular around the world because of its increasingly publicized violations of Palestinian human rights, the Foreign Ministry and other Israel advocacy organizations have been attempting to bolster its image with a “Brand Israel” campaign that promotes Israel’s innovation, culture, and tourism. In the last few years, this effort has started including Israel’s support for gay rights as part of its “cosmopolitan” culture.
While emphasizing the thriving gay community in cities such as Tel Aviv in order to portray Israel as an oasis of gay freedom and democracy in the Middle East, Israel advocacy groups use colonialist language to suggest that Israel is surrounded by “backwards” homophobic, uncivilized Arabs, including Palestinians. Blaming “fundamentalist Islamic beliefs,” groups such as Stand With Us (SWU), a Right Wing Israeli advocacy organization highlights the violence that gay Palestinians face from their families and authorities in Palestine. Of course, they never mention the violence allPalestinians, whatever their sexual orientation, face from the Israeli government."