Op-ed: A New State for Homophobia?
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas formally asked
the United Nations on September 23 to recognize a Palestinian state. And on
September 28 the application was passed to a standing committee that must now review
whether to return to the pre-1967 borders. Abbas’s bid doesn’t just violate
past Palestinian Liberation Organization-Israel agreements, which were
witnessed by the UN, the United States, the European Union and other states,
and which are the basis for peacemaking. It doesn’t just defy UN Security
Council resolutions that call for direct negotiations. It doesn’t just fail to
meet elementary standards for statehood with its divided government and leaders
whose term of office ended more than a year ago.
The Palestinians also declare, openly and shamelessly, that
their future state will not allow Jews or homosexuals.
There are many bigoted nations in the world, but they don’t often
proudly broadcast their racism and homophobia like the leaders of the proposed
Although the United States and Israel have publicly opposed
the application, where are the rest of the world’s leaders? Where is the outcry
against this travesty?
Abbas and PLO officials have repeatedly said there would be
no Jews in their future state. Palestinian government-controlled media are
suffused with traditional anti-Semitism, denials of Jewish history and rights,
and demonization of Jews. The Hamas charter explicitly calls for murdering Jews
and borrows from the Czarist anti-Semitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders
of Zion,” which is regarded as one of the blueprints for genocide of Jews.
Homosexuals would fare no better. This past September 14,
when the PLO ambassador to the U.S. was asked directly whether homosexuality
would be legal in the Palestinian state, he dodged the question: “This is
beyond my authority,” he answered. But homosexuality is a crime in
Hamas-governed Gaza, and 82% of Palestinians support making homosexuality
illegal, according to a July 2011 poll by the respected polling firm Greenberg
Quinlan Rosner Research.
So we will witness Abbas pleading his case before the UN,
sounding like a homeless orphan plaintively asking the international body to
give the Palestinians a state and to uphold “justice.” Anyone who votes “no”
will seem heartless and unjust. But what will Palestinian statehood mean? Will
it empower the proposed state to ethnically cleanse or transfer all Jewish and
gay citizens? Is this what the international community wants to endorse?
Because anyone who supports this Palestinian state will knowingly be voting to
create a nation that openly violates elementary principles of
international law, human rights, and fairness that should be the basis of any
Has the international community decided that a future
Palestinian state does not need to live up to these basic standards? Is it in
such a rush to establish this state that it is willing to abandon all its
commitments to diversity and tolerance?
Responsible international leaders should be telling the
world that the UN cannot endorse a state that is based on racism, homophobia,
and hatred of its neighbor.
Palestinian leaders still refuse to recognize Israel as the
Jewish state. The charters of the Palestinians’ ruling parties, Fatah and
Hamas, still call for the obliteration of Israel. No society, no matter how
oppressed, is entitled to ask for statehood when it denies statehood to its
neighbor. No society has a right to ask for legitimacy as a nation while
disparaging its neighbor’s history and rights as falsehoods. No group should
have the nerve to ask for statehood while teaching its children to hate and
kill its neighbors.
If the UN grants recognition of statehood to a dysfunctional,
intolerant entity that remains committed to violence, then the humanitarian and
political ideals painstakingly forged since World War II will suffer an
irreparable blow. The UN will be setting a dangerous precedent for the future.
International leaders must uphold justice and decency, and
they must keep us from spiraling backward to the dark times when Judeophobia
and homophobia prevailed, causing unspeakable suffering and signaling the rise
of conflict and war.
Lillian Faderman has published eight books on LGBT
history and literature. She is the recipient of several LGBT lifetime
achievement awards, including Yale University’s James Brudner Award, the
Monette/Horwitz Award, Publishing Triangle’s Bill Whitehead Award, and the ONE
National Archives Culture Hero Award.
Roz Rothstein is the CEO of StandWithUs, a 10 year old,
non-profit Israel education organization. Through its Los Angeles base and with
15 chapters throughout the U.S., Israel, the U.K. and France, SWU supports
people around the world who want to educate their campuses and communities