Support for gays, Hamas at NY's LGBT Center sparks fury

Analysis: Hamas's violent campaign against gays airbrushed out of controversy as Queers Against Israeli Apartheid unlawfully occupy center.

Mahmoud al-Zahar smirking  (R) 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Mahmoud al-Zahar smirking (R) 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
The Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) group unlawfully occupied New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center last week, to protest its refusal to rent space to the fiercely anti-Israel group.
Another takeover of the 28-year-old center is slated for next month.
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“The QAIA had a sit-in at the center this past week in violation of center policy. It was very small. We are not permitting them to meet and the moratorium remains in place,” Cindi Creager, director of communications and marketing at the center, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday.
While the LGBT Center’s management has consistently declined to comment on the radical anti-Israel rhetoric of QAIA and its support for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, what has been airbrushed out of the controversy is Hamas’s violent campaign against gays.
Dr. Shimon Samuels, the international director for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post on Saturday that QAIA is ignoring Hamas’s violent homophobia. “It is complicity by omission and stupidity,” Samuels said. QAIA is “defending homophobia and the enemies of democracy.”
Critics have charged QAIA and its partner organization, Siege Busters, with providing de facto support to Hamas. Siege Busters previously used the center’s facilities to raise money for efforts to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. The NGOs have many members in common.
What is perhaps not common knowledge among members of the LGBT community are the positions of Hamas toward the West and LGBT communities. Hamas cofounder Mahmoud Zahar has said, “You in the West do not live like human beings. You do not even live like animals. You accept homosexuality. And now you criticize us?”
In an April broadcast on Hamas’s Al-Aksa TV, which was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Syrian academic Muhammad Rateb al- Nabulsi said, “Homosexuality involves a filthy place, and does not generate offspring. Homosexuality leads to the destruction of the homosexual. That is why, brothers, homosexuality carries the death penalty.”
The British gay news website Pink News has reported that Zahar blasted rights for gays in Israel and said, “Are these the laws for which the Palestinian street is waiting? For us to give rights to homosexuals and to lesbians, a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick?” All of this helps explain why experts in gender studies have condemned QAIA. Dr.
Phyllis Chesler, a professor emerita of psychology and women’s studies at City University of New York, termed the activists “Queers for Jihad.”
“The members of QAIA seem to know nothing about real apartheid which is Islamic gender and religious apartheid... They are scapegoating democratic and gayfriendly Israel for the enormous sins and crimes of the Muslim world,” Chesler told the Post on Friday.
New York’s Gay City News, America’s most influential biweekly LGBT publication, on Thursday quoted Emmaia Gelman, a QAIA member, saying QAIA is taking back “community space” from monied interests and the “political power of the Israel lobby.”
Gay City News also noted that a man had protested against last Tuesday’s QAIA occupation of the LGBT Center. According to the paper, “He arrived about one hour after it started and stood holding an ‘American Friends of Likud’ flag and a rope with small Israeli flags hanging from it.”
Michael Lucas, a gay adult entertainment producer and a columnist for the LGBT monthly magazine The Advocate, told the Post on Friday that “it is up to the center how they want to approach intruders and hooligans that are trying to illegally occupy its premises. I think the center, by allowing this, is setting a bad precedent.
Tomorrow the Ku Klux Klan will occupy the lobby. By the way, here I am a little bit mad about the center, because I know that if the KKK took over the center’s lobby, it would for sure call the cops, and rightly so.”