NY activists to debate scrubbed gay center event

Activist says LGBT center's decision to cancel Israel Apartheid Week event makes "queers who support Palestinian rights feel unwelcome.”

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
March 8, 2011 03:32
2 minute read.
Almost 3,000 people attended Thursday's parade

Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel supporters are set to engage in a public debate at a gay center in New York next Sunday over the center’s decision to cancel an Israeli Apartheid Week event it was supposed to have hosted.

Pro-Israel gay columnist and porn producer Michael Lucas issued a call to arms in a letter circulated among Israel supporters last week, calling on them to show up in numbers for a planned discussion at the LGBT Community Center on 13th Street regarding the cancellation of the pro-Palestinian event.

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“This meeting is organized precisely in order to reach a compromise with Israel Apartheid Week and its sister organization Siege Busters, which means to let this group into the Center,” Lucas wrote. “We cannot allow that to happen under any circumstances. The LGBT Center cannot compromise with the IAW movement.”

According to a short statement issued by the center on its website, the planned gathering will provide “an open forum to share their perspectives and provide us with feedback.”

Last Saturday, some 130 pro-Palestinian activists staged a counter-protest at the center, which has become an unexpected battleground between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian supporters. They carried signs and shouted chants against the center’s decision to cancel the planned “party to stop Israeli Apartheid.”

“I’m here tonight because bigotry and apartheid are queer issues,” pro-Palestinian activist Melissa Morrone was quoted as saying in a press release issued by the Israeli Apartheid Week organizers. “The Center says their mission is to provide a safe haven for the LGBT community, but by letting one donor exclude a particular point of view, they’re making queers who support Palestinian rights feel unwelcome.”

Lucas, who launched the successful campaign to cancel the controversial event at the gay center in New York, has said staging an event accusing Israel of human rights violations at such a location, when it is the only country in the region where gay rights are respected, is hypocritical and hateful.

Palestinian supporters complain that their rights to protest perceived human rights abuses against Arabs and Palestinians are unfairly curtailed by Israel supporters.

Meanwhile, protests and counter-protests related to Israeli Apartheid Week are expected to enter full swing around the world this week.

One pro-Israel group has organized a series of events under the header of “Israel Peace Week,” which are set to be held on 50 campuses across North America.

The Peace Week idea, proposed by five American and Canadian students, seeks to highlight democratic and egalitarian aspects of Israeli society and debunk claims that it is discriminatory toward non-Jews.

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