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 Op-ed: A New State for Homophobia?

 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 Palestinian state.

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 modern state.

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 about Israel.

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