Let's take a look at the facts of the case:
"Last week we were scheduled to speak at the Constitution Center as part of the Equality Forum's 2012 LGBT Summit. Instead we, a rabbi and a law professor, withdrew our appearances at the event, disturbed that the Equality Forum, a major mainstream gay-rights group, chose Israel as the conference's "featured nation" and gained sponsorship for the 2012 Summit from the Israeli Embassy and Ministry of Tourism."So keep in mind going forward that this Equality Forum chose to feature Israel, not the other way around. As far as any of us can tell Israel did not compel the Equality Forum in any way to make this decision. This was not an Israel event that included gay stuff, this is a gay event that included Israel stuff. So now let's hear Franke's explanation:
"The Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, often notes that Israel "provides shelter to Palestinian homosexuals seeking safety from Islamists in the West Bank," claiming Israel is a "gay mecca." Ambassador Oren was mistaken when he said that Israel gives asylum to gay and lesbian Palestinians. Israel does not grant asylum to any Palestinians, regardless of their sexual orientation, and in fact won't even let an Israeli who marries a Palestinian share their Israeli citizenship with their spouse. Tel Aviv may have a great gay scene, but most Palestinians will never see it, because regardless of their sexual orientation, they are not allowed to pass through the checkpoints and the Wall to enter Israel from the West Bank."So, in a move that surprised precisely no one, Franke boycotted the conference because Israel is mean to Palestinians. Seriously. And I don't think it is just because Michael Oren didn't spin the truth as much as Prof. Franke likes. Israel does give asylum to gay and lesbian Palestinians, that is simply a fact that she doesn't want to acknowledge. She is entitled to her own opinions but not her own facts.
Let's leave that just for a second and examine Franke's other reasons. They are (and I'm paraphrasing, but go back and read the article if you doubt me): the UN criticized Israel's treatment of human rights groups, the settlements, and that there is still homophobia in some parts of Israel. She even blames Palestinian intolerance of gays on Israel:
"Since 2000 Shin Bet, the Israeli security service, has had a policy of blackmailing Palestinians who are gay or who are perceived to be gay and threatening to out them unless they become informants against their own people. For this reason gay people in Palestine have a reputation as collaborators with Israel; as a result some of the homophobia gays and lesbians in Palestine experience is the direct product of the occupation itself."That link, by the way, states that "sometimes" Shin Bet exploits gay Palestinians, not "has a policy," but why expect someone as clearly partisan as Franke to stick to the truth? I know that I stopped expecting it a long time ago.
So now that Franke has established the fact that Israel is mean to the poor suffering Palestinians (tm), she has to tie it back to the gays. Here we go:
"While it may seem natural for gays to side with Israel -- after all, they have such good gay-rights laws -- this support reflects a major weakness of so many human rights movements that tend to prioritize their own struggles without considering the ways in which all forms of discrimination are linked. In Israel/Palestine, gay rights and human rights more broadly are necessarily connected to one another, and treating one domestic minority well does not excuse or diminish the immorality of the state's other rights-abridging policies. Had South Africa enacted good gay-rights laws during the Apartheid era, no one would have seen that as excusing their treatment of black and "colored" people. "(Hm, are there any other human rights movements that prioritize their own struggles without caring about anyone else? There's one that sounds familiar...it's right on the tip of my tongue but I just can't think of it. Maybe it will come back to me later.)
Just like her previous writings, Franke tackles a strawman argument like nobody's business. No one in Israel (except maybe some people in the Israeli government) is using Israel's gay rights record to "excuse" their treatment of Palestinians. They don't need to! The Palestinians have committed enough murder and terror to justify Israel's treatment of them. But because Franke sees Israel as exclusively a Palestinian abuser, she can't handle the idea that there is anything more to Israel than that. To see Israel as defending itself is inexcusable, and like Zach mentioned on Friday, Franke can't handle seeing Israel as anything less than a "bad guy" with absolutely no redeeming qualities at all.
Within that respect, Franke shows a hatred of Israel that I honestly think comes from either a place of simply bigotry or extremist politics. There is no reason to bring "the occupation" in a discussion about gay rights in Israel unless you hate Israel and don't ever want it to be praised for anything. A mere "critic" of Israel's "policies" might be bothered by Israel's presence at a gay conference but the presence of Saudi Arabia bothers me at the Olympics too and you don't see me spending 24 hours a day raging about it.
Let me give you my thoughts in quick soundbite form: I (and my fellow Zionists) will stop dragging gay rights into conversations about Israel's policies toward the Palestinians if Professor Franke (and her supporters) stop dragging Israel's policies toward the Palestinians into conversations about gay rights. Sound fair? And that's one you can take to the bank.
The problem with Franke's entire thesis, as it always is when it comes to this "pinkwashing" accusation, is that she doesn't realize that not everyone is obsessed with the Palestinians the way she is. I listen to Dan Savage's podcast. He's gay, and he cares about two issues: gay rights, and women's rights. He is part of a community that has goals that it wants to achieve and people it wants to protect. The gay community cares about gay people far more than everyone else. They are within their rights to do so. That's not to say that they wouldn't, say, help a straight person if they were being attacked on the street, but many if not most of them vote based on which candidate is best for the gays. Which is all a roundabout way of saying that when it comes to gay issues, most gay people prefer Israel to the Palestinians because Israel is better for "their people." Unfortunately for Professor Franke, there are lots of people out there who still believe in those antiquated notions of "community" and "peoplehood," and gay people are one of them.
It isn't selfish for gay people to look out for their fellow gays first before trying to help out those who would happily slit the throats of gays without a second thought. It's common sense and how politics have always worked. Ms. Franke can get up on her high horse all she likes but there is a reason why the Palestinian cause remains associated with the radical leftist fringe of the gay community and not a "gay issue." It's because when it comes to gay rights, Israel rules and Palestine sucks. There's simply no other way around it.
In some ways, I feel bad for Franke. She's sitting on the sidelines, pouting, genuinely confused why her fellow Americans don't care as much about the poor suffering fascist homophobic Palestinians as she does. To be honest, I bet the Equality Forum was relieved she wouldn't be there. She seems like the kind of person who would yell at Martin Luther King, Jr. for cheating on his wife.