Pinkwashing Gaza

James Duke Mason: obnoxious article

Shortly after bombing of Gaza got under way earlier this week, America's oldest and largest LGBT magazine published an article on its website urging gay people everywhere to "stand in solidarity" with Israel.

Obnoxious as the article is, it adopts a familiar line: Israel supports gay people, so gay people should support Israel. Never mind the 100 dead in Gaza so far – it's all in a good cause (allegedly):

"The fact [sic] is that Israel is absolutely critical for our nation [the US] and for the security and stability of the Middle East. We cannot afford for Israel to be anything but strong and secure, and this is particularly true for the LGBT community here in America and around the world."

The writer of this crap is 22-year-old James Duke Mason, a political activist in Hollywood and a grandson of the late film star, James Mason. Alarmingly, James Duke Mason is also described as "one of the 100 most influential LGBT people in the world".

Mason's article doesn't explain how he knows that Israel is "absolutely critical" for the security of the US and the Middle East (as well as gay people, of course), but there's plenty of evidence to suggest that Israel's behaviour over the years has done considerable damage to the security of both the US and the Middle East.

Mason continues:

"Yes, there are a few other Middle Eastern countries where homosexuality is no longer a crime ... but none of them have stood up as strongly for us as Israel.

"For Israel to be so principled in its convictions and in its willingness to fight for us, while surrounded by countries such as Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death, is a testament to Israel's commitment and character."

So if Israel ever gets around to bombing Iran, gay people should be thankful. 

"Unless we want the Middle East to turn into an absolute free-for-all controlled by extremists who want to kill us and turn women into their slaves, then we need to do everything we can to protect Israel and stand in solidarity in any way we can. Not only is it in our interests, but Israel deserves it after all it has done for us."

This is not the first use of gay rights for political purposes in the current conflict. Shortly after the murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir (a crime which Israeli police now blame on suspected Jewish extremists) rumours spread that he had been killed by his own family. The reason, purportedly, was that 16-year-old Mohammed was gay and that his death was an "honour" killing.

Discussing this in the Jewish Daily Forward, Sigal Samuel writes:

"It’s not clear who started the rumour that Khdeir’s family murdered him for being gay. Many believe that it was the Israeli police who first fed this line to journalists — primarily in off-the-record briefings, and primarily to right-leaning outlets who would be willing to quote them as unnamed sources.

"Whether or not that’s true, the media’s willingness to play along, combined with the police’s insistence on keeping the true details of the investigation under strict gag orders, allowed a baseless theory to spread far and wide among a credulous public. It was particularly popular with those Israel supporters who would rather believe this grisly murder was the work of Palestinians ('see, they even kill their own family members!') than of fellow Jews."

Writing in Haaretz newspaper, Aeyal Gross says

"Even if the people in custody are still defined as suspects – which means that the murder is not completely solved – it is important to remember that the fact so many people were quick to believe the gay rumours shows a wish to deny the possibility that we are also capable of murdering children out of extremist national hatred.

"Yet the willingness to believe those rumours uncritically has another significance: The marking of Palestinians as barbaric and homophobic, as people who would murder their own children for being gay."

Posted by Brian Whitaker
Friday, 11 July 2014