Gay Center Axes Israeli Apartheid Week Event After Boycott Threat by Porn Activist

israeli-apartheid-week-2010-columbia-u.jpg
Last year's Israeli Apartheid Week event at Columbia's Low Plaza.
Well, that was quick. We were looking forward to covering "Party to End Apartheid!," an Israeli Apartheid Week event on March 5 at the LGBT Center, where those two worlds would collide.

Our excitement was short-lived. Pornographer Michael Lucas was furious that the Center would hold such an event and vowed "a boycott that would certainly involve some of the [NYC LGBT] Center's most generous donors." Lucas, one of gay porn's most outspoken figures, is known equally for his "Men of Israel" films, his rabidly right-wing political writing for the Advocate, and his custom-made dildo in the shape of his own manhood.

We were surprised at how quickly he succeeded.

Just hours after writing, "It was an inexcusable decision on the Center's part to associate itself with a hate group like Israeli Apartheid Week, but there's still time for them to reverse course and begin restoring their reputation," Lucas proclaimed victory, writing: "We prevailed! Congratulations to everyone who stood with me in support of Israel. With your help it took only eight hours to accomplish our mission."

The LGBT Center released a two-sentence statement: "We have determined that this event is not appropriate to be held at our LGBT Community Center, which is a safe haven for LGBT groups and individuals. Therefore, the meeting at The Center has been cancelled and the host group will no longer meet at The Center."

But the LGBT Center hosts hundreds of events a year, ranging from A to Z and beyond. Does the Center endorse the viewpoint of every group, forum and discussion that occurs within its walls? Why did the Center find the Israeli Apartheid Week event to be appropriate when it booked the space, but not after Lucas complained?

"Party to End Apartheid!" was a benefit for the Siege Busters Working Group, whose membership includes Emily Henochowicz, a Cooper Union art student who lost an eye during a peace protest in Israel, and the group Existence is Resistance. Both groups are raising money to send another aid ship to Gaza. The last such unsuccessful effort led to the death of nine people (and to the protest where Henochowicz lost an eye).

[sthrasher@villagevoice.com]


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41 comments
Eli
Eli

Yes but.... the struggle against what you call "apartheid" is a struggle *against* the Israelis. The struggle for LGBT rights is against... Palestinian leadership/society. It is lovely that you try and tie these two together, but you forget that each cause is pushing against a different oppressor. Israel is the one place that your two groups, Alqaws and Aswat, can even act, as you can see by the party advertised on the Alqaws site that's happening in Tel Aviv, or the Aswat site citing the "homophobic and patriarchal society" that oppresses them.

So, while your cause against your Palestinian society is indeed important to the LGBT Center, "Apartheid Week" actually has nothing to do with LGBT rights, and should be held in a place where it doesn't alienate much of the population, and make them feel unwelcome (i.e. Jews. We use the center too, and not to support extremist right-wing causes. Just as a center)

Safiknat
Safiknat

Judith Butler's e-mail to the NY LGBT Center totally rocks!

Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2011

To: Glennda@gaycenter.org

From: Judith Butler

Subject: censorship at the NY LGBT Center

Dear Glennda Testone,

I am writing to communicate my outrage and sorrow that our movement has come to this point where it refuses to house an organization that is fighting for social justice. I was appalled to see the very ignorant and hateful messages that supported your center's decision to ban Siegebusters from holding an event on the topic of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. The colleagues at Jewish Voice for Peace and other progressive Jewish organizations with whom I have spoken are in strong disagreement with your action. It is simply wrong to assume that housing an event that discusses the BDS movement is anti-Semitic in content or implication. There are increasing numbers of Jewish intellectuals and cultural workers (including Adrienne Rich and myself) who support the BDS movement, including a vocal group from Israel that calls upon the rest of us to put international pressure on their country (including Anat Matar, Rachel Giora, Dalit Baum - one of the founding queer activists there, and Neve Gordon). There are also queer anarchist and human rights groups in Israel- including "Who Profits?" - who support BDS and who are struggling against illegal land confiscations in Jerusalem and the building of the wall or who, at least, would support an open forum to discuss the pros and cons of this strategy, non-violent, to compel the State of Israel. But there is, perhaps most importantly as well a network of Palestinian Queers for BDS that have an important and complex analysis of the situation, calling for BDS as a sustained non-violent practice to oppose the systematic disenfranchisement of Palestinians under the Occupation. It is surely part of our global responsibility to understand this position and to make alliances across regional divisions rather than stay within the parochial assumptions of our own neighborhoods.

The idea that BDS is somehow anti-Semitic misunderstands the point and is simply false. It is a movement that is in favor of putting pressure on states that fail to comply with international law and, in this case, that keep more than 1.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank under the military control of Israel, which also maintains political control over their survival, mobility, employment, health, and elections - and this has been amply demonstrated. This is a human rights and social justice issue about which we all have to learn. And it seems to me that just as the very notion of freedom must include sexual freedom, and the very notion of equality must include sexual and gender equality, so must we form alliances that show that our concern with social justice is one that will include opposition to all forms of state subjugation and disenfranchisement. We now have many organizations that affirm the interlinking networks of subjugation and alliance: queers against racism, queers for economic justice. We must oppose all forms of anti-Semitism to be sure (as a Jewish queer who lost part of maternal line in the Nazi genocide against the Jews, I can and will take no other stand). But we must extend our critique of racism to all minorities whose citizenship is unfulfilled, suspended, lost, or compromised, which would include the Palestinian people in the last several decades.

The Siegebuster event is one that would simply seek to inform the LGBTQ community of a set of political viewpoints. No one who goes to the event has to agree with the viewpoint put forward there, and neither does the center. By hosting this event, your center would simply be acknowledging that this is an important global issue in which LGBTQ people are invested and are now currently debating. The Center thus would agree that we all need to hear this viewpoint in order to make more informed decisions about the situation. I fear that to refuse to host the event is to submit to the tactics of intimidation and ignorance and to give up on the important public function of this center. I urge you to reconsider your view. These are important matters, they concern us all, and we look to you now to show that the LGBTQ movement remains committed to discussing social justice issues and will not be intimidated by those who seek to expand the powers of censorship precisely when so much of the rest of the world is trying to bring them down. There is still time for you to act with courage and wisdom.

Sincerely,

Judith Butler

University of California, Berkeley

Visiting Professor, New School for Social Research (Spring, 2011)

Safiknat
Safiknat

the jews do the same to the arabs that the germans did to them... with the biggest terrorist in the world USA supporting them.

Shame on all of you haters... with your "first" world privilege! makes me puke!

Safiknat
Safiknat

Shame to the LGBT centre of NYC. Money talks.

whatiswrong withupeople
whatiswrong withupeople

I think at the core of this issue is first amendment rights, for which anyone in porn has routinely fought for, and yet in this scenario a 'porn' producer is actually infringing on someone else's right to assemble and have free speech.

And While I might disagree with the groups stance, I do feel they should have a right to use the space-- the space was rented to them; they paid for it, and it was a matter of commerce NOT political affiliation for the center!

If 'Micheal' or Andre wanted to make a serious statement against this group, he would put his money where his mouth is, and rent the same space to hold a pro-Israel rally. Instead, he took this as an opportunity to hawk his name in the press. And scapegoat an innocent LGBT center. This guy is an asshole, and a media whore, uses incidents like this to further his REAL agenda which is to promote his porno company. Shame on you Micheal, you hypocrite!

whatiswrong withupeople
whatiswrong withupeople

I have such contempt for Michael Lucas. He is a fraud and a toxic person. Someone who is a manipulator and a liar.

And a fraud. How can he be even considered a person with any sensible or valid opinions worth putting in print? He is a republican, a political association for which is ANTI-GAY! Ironically, Michael very intolerant towards Arabs for being anti-gay--considering his justification for this intolerance is based off of theirs; it is a contradiction to be lecturing about it in the first place, since your intolerance is the motivation for speaking out against them. It is ridiculous. He has demonstrated intolerance towards even blacks accusing them of homophobia-- yet again, his political affiliation alienates its gay base by putting anti-gay legislation into law. They pander to zealots of all kinds, which the majority are christian or even in some cases Jews.

Michael has been known to have illegally worked as an escort in the New York area for some years, and with complete disregard to the anti prostitution laws in place. Why doesn't someone in INS or with the government effectively terminate his visa since he broke the law on numerous attempts. Laws for which he claims he reveres as a 'citizen'. He is a lawyer, and is completely aware of the law. I am disgusted with a government agency that would allow this type of person entrance into our country and yet only target migrant Mexican workers, who are impoverished and want to make an HONEST wage.

whatiswrong withupeople
whatiswrong withupeople

I have such contempt for Michael Lucas. He is a fraud and a toxic person. Someone who is a manipulator and a liar.

And a fraud. How can he be even considered a person with any sensible or valid opinions worth putting in print? He is a republican, a political association for which is ANTI-GAY! Ironically, Michael very intolerant towards Arabs for being anti-gay--considering his justification for this intolerance is based off of theirs; it is a contradiction to be lecturing about it in the first place, since your intolerance is the motivation for speaking out against them. It is ridiculous. He has demonstrated intolerance towards even blacks accusing them of homophobia-- yet again, his political affiliation alienates its gay base by putting anti-gay legislation into law. They pander to zealots of all kinds, which the majority are christian or even in some cases Jews.

Michael has been known to have illegally worked as an escort in the New York area for some years, and with complete disregard to the anti prostitution laws in place. Why doesn't someone in INS or with the government effectively terminate his visa since he broke the law on numerous attempts. Laws for which he claims he reveres as a 'citizen'. He is a lawyer, and is completely aware of the law. I am disgusted with a government agency that would allow this type of person entrance into our country and yet only target migrant Mexican workers, who are impoverished and want to make an HONEST wage.

whatiswrong withupeople
whatiswrong withupeople

I think at the core of this issue is first amendment rights, for which anyone in porn has routinely fought for, and yet in this scenario a 'porn' producer is actually infringing on someone else's right to assemble and have free speech.

And While I might disagree with the groups stance, I do feel they should have a right to use the space-- the space was rented to them; they paid for it, and it was a matter of commerce NOT political affiliation for the center!

If 'Micheal' or Andre wanted to make a serious statement against this group, he would put his money where his mouth is, and rent the same space to hold a pro-Israel rally. Instead, he took this as an opportunity to hawk his name in the press. And scapegoat an innocent LGBT center. This guy is an asshole, and a media whore, uses incidents like this to further his REAL agenda which is to promote his porno company. Shame on you Micheal, you hypocrite!

Jews Are Anti-Semites Too
Jews Are Anti-Semites Too

Frankly, one ought to start laying the anti-Semitic label squarely at the feet of the Israeli people. I mean, afterall, Arabs are Semitic people.

Further, this is a divisive decision by the LGBT Center, which ought to be a place to come together and forget our differences. It's supposed to be a place to celebrate our differences, not strengthen our hatred. They ought not have done such a closed-minded thing just because the Jews are offended that someone might question a system of apartheid and state sanctioned terrorism against the Arabs and Palestinians.

And to those that say "the terrorists deserve it." Well, right back at you.

An eye for an eye is so Old Testament and is just so hateful... y'all ought to grow up and learn to play nice like adults, not emotionally wrought children

Sioen
Sioen

It's interesting that the suppression of this event (by using the threat of a boycott) came from Michael Lucas, who, when criticized for comparing the Quran to "Mein Kampf" in a 2008 speech, wrote in the Stanford student newspaper:

"Do not suppress or boycott someone who has a different opinion, even if you disagree with this opinion. Debate it. Argue it. In a civilized manner. Otherwise, what is the difference between you and Islam?"

Apparently, Lucas has a lot in common with the religion he hates so much.

M. Simon
M. Simon

I think that this happened because the Palestinians persecute gays and the Israelis more or less accept them. You can find many stories about Palestinian gays going to Israel to avoid persecution. One was sheltered by an Orthodox family even.

Matrix
Matrix

Is the LGBT even aware of what they do to gay people in the Palestinian authority, or in any Islamic society? Do you realize that there is no such thing as an openly gay person in the Arab world, because such a person would be killed immediately. Are you aware that gays are hung in the streets of Iran and that being gay is punishable by death in many Islamic countries? Are you aware that Israel is the only society in the Middle East that has an openly gay community, many gay public organizations, an annual gay pride parade, many gay bars and clubs, protected by law...etc...etc... The very idea of a gay “Israel-apartheid week” is so absurd that it almost seems like a joke, until one discovers that it’s not meant to be taken not as a parody. If you stood in Tahrir square in Cairo (or anywhere else in the Muslim world) and announced that you were doing a "gay” anti-Israel event, you would be lynched in a matter of moments, simply because you are gay, anti-Israel or not. You have clearly never traveled to the Muslim world, you have clearly never studied this issue. WAKE UP!

Muhamed45
Muhamed45

Funny how far people can support lies and facts. Israel is the only country in the Mid East that respects gay and lesbians. Try to be gay in Gaza - most likely Hamas would demand you to become "Shahid" (=suicide bomber) or they would butcher your family. Not to mention that Israel is the only state in the Mid East respecting all religions.

Joy
Joy

Just because Israel is the only safe place for gays in the middle east - a refuge for gay men and women from the West Bank, Gaza, and Arab countries, should be enough of a reason to distance any GBLT group from a hate group like "Israel Apartheid"

guest
guest

Dear all,for all those of you who keep pulling the israel being the only democracy in the middle east card, or the gay haven card, please read this blog: http://pqbds.wordpress.com/

 ʎɹʇobbɐɟ ʇobbɐɟ ɹɯ
ʎɹʇobbɐɟ ʇobbɐɟ ɹɯ

An event that promotes to boycott an ally of gay rights in a gay center has NO room in a gay center!!!

I support the center for what it stands for, but if this center allows an activity to demonize Israel, the only country in the middle east that enshrines LGBTQ rights then I will end up working against LGBTQ rights in Israel and in the disputed territories. The BDS Movement (Boycott, Demonize, Slander) it is as hypocritical, anti-Semitic &/or anti-Israel given that the proponents express no concern about homophobic, violent towards LGBTQ, non-democratic countries or territories.

I encourage any Gay supporter of this "BDS" group to go Ramallah or Gaza City and organize a Gay Pride Parade there; The Jihadists will love you as TARGET practice.

Getyourfactsstraight
Getyourfactsstraight

PA security forces arbitrarily arrest and detain persons, and prolonged detention and lack of due process are prevalent. The courts do not ensure fair and expeditious trials. The PA executive and security services frequently ignore or fail to enforce court decisions.

The PA does not prohibit by law the use of torture or force against detainees, and PA security forces reportedly were responsible for torture and widespread abuse of Palestinian detainees. International human rights monitoring groups have documented widespread arbitrary and abusive conduct by the PA. These organizations state that use of torture is widespread and not restricted to those persons detained on security charges. At least five Palestinians died in PA custody during 2001.

PA security forces infringed on citizens' rights to privacy and restricted freedom of speech and of the press by closing down media outlets, banning publications or broadcasts, and periodically harassing or detaining members of the media. For example, after the brutal killing of two IDF reserve soldiers at a Ramallah police station on October 12, 2000, Palestinian police confiscated film from several journalists who were at the scene. On October 4, a foreign journalist filmed three members of the Palestinian security forces distributing Molotov cocktails to several children. The security forces detained the journalist and his crew for several hours and destroyed the roll of film. PA harassment contributed to the practice of self-censorship by many Palestinian commentators, reporters, and critics.

Justwondering
Justwondering

Whose center is this anyway? Color me surprised but I think the LGBT Center has a lot more members who support human rights than who believe everything possible should be done to scuttle any peep of protest over a brutal 40 year occupation. Hope the community doesn't let this bit of closeting pass.

FB23
FB23

The knee-jerk rush to crush any criticism of Israel by invoking anti-Semitism is precisely why so many younger Jews like myself feel alienated from Zionism altogether - the term's been utterly shat upon by the right.

And this isn't just about Lucas; undoubtedly there was substantial pressure from board members and/or donors.

Jonster
Jonster

Oh please. Have you (and the UN) taken an oath of irrelevance? While the entire Arab world is standing up and taking down dictators that we have supported because they were convenient at the time, the same dictators who supported Sharia law in their territories where untold, emphasis on UNtold, atrocities have occurred to anyone who isn't a heterosexual man, you decide to toss your hat in with the bigots. As Cee Lo says: F*ck You.

Guest132
Guest132

OMG This is so sad, we have to put an end to this brutal tyrannie. Supporting israel is simply not human. How is it possible that all these canadians and americans just keep doing their bidding like this.

Chrisgeovanis
Chrisgeovanis

I, for one, would have very much liked to have distanced myself from "Israel Apartheid" by attending this event. Unfortunately, it's been cancelled thanks to the intervention of Zionist apologists who defend Israeli policy, no matter how barbaric or genocidal. Damn.

Jenn263
Jenn263

Spot on! I'm les, and can any of you name ONE country in the region besides Israel that has and type of equal rights for women?!!?!?! But bitch about Israel who is only trying to protect what little land they have. By the way, have the native americans been treated any differently? Where are YOU offering to give your property back to them????? hypocrites!!!!

GlassHouses
GlassHouses

All true. It's also true that the PA is an unelected regime that has feebly clung to power only through the patronage of Zionists and the United States. What in God's name is your point?

Sulayman
Sulayman

Your point? Should we judge Israel by what other people do? Do we judge Bush based on how bad Saddam Hussein was?

 ʎɹʇobbɐɟ ʇobbɐɟ ɹɯ
ʎɹʇobbɐɟ ʇobbɐɟ ɹɯ

I love it that in any moment there's a mention of the palestinian persecution of gays. A number of gay Palestinian men are risking their lives to cross the border into Israel, claiming they feel safer among Israelis than their own people. Their willingness to live there - despite the risk of being detained and deported as a security threat - is due to Palestinian attitudes towards gay men.

Romulus
Romulus

Your peeps of protest are persistent and pathetic. The irony of your support, at best, is astounding.

 ʎɹʇobbɐɟ ʇobbɐɟ ɹɯ
ʎɹʇobbɐɟ ʇobbɐɟ ɹɯ

Criticisim? A malignant OBSESSION w/#Israel is #ANTISEMITISM. Don't Deny It! Why don't they condemn other countries? Not enuff #JEWS there? #MichaelLucas

Stephanie Gutmann
Stephanie Gutmann

Why should a LGBT Center host an Apartheid Week? Apartheid Weeks are part of a deliberate attempt to delegitimatize and lay the ground work for the eventual dissolution of Israel. The eradication of Israel be a tragedy for the LGBT community. Gays are persecuted and driven underground in all the Arab/Muslim countries in the region Iran, for instance, hangs gays. It recently hung two teenaged boys.

By contrast Israel is a haven for gays. Gays serve in the Knesset and in the military. Tel-Aviv's gay community is extremely vibrant and open. Huge Gay Pride marches are held in the country and given permits and police protection. Israel's contestant to the Europop awards was a transexual and she won the contest.

This should be a no-brainer.

Win64bit
Win64bit

Hello Guest 132. When you you say brutal tyrannie [sic], were you referring to the honor killings of girls, the public hanging of gays, burning of Coptic churches, destruction of the Baha'i community, forced conversions of Christians and Hindu's, torture and detention of its citizens under vague "emergency laws," mass murder of its own citizens with mercenaries and gas attacks, rape as a war weapon, Tahrir Square sexual assault of TV reporters while screaming Yahood sending children in as human bombs... which tyranny or tyrannie [sic] were you speaking of?

Myhalcyondaze
Myhalcyondaze

do have a stop palestinian terrorism week too ?

they support israel, the lone democracy in the region, because they are not ignorant as you are.

LGBT people, if you're anywhere in the mid east, you better hope its in israel... else you can expect prison or worse...

Myhalcyondaze
Myhalcyondaze

do have a stop palestinian terrorism week too ?

they support israel, the lone democracy in the region, because they are not ignorant as you are.

LGBT people, if you're anywhere in the mid easy, you better hope its in israel... else you can expect prison or worse...

uh, that is cracked.
uh, that is cracked.

That's great. Christian settlers committed genocide against First Nations people in the continental U.S., so that makes it OK for Zionist settler colonialists to do the same in Palestine. You are nuts.

5ftflirt
5ftflirt

You should criticize and denounce the people who are actually abusing human rights. But you all want to spend all your time on Israel, which does maybe 1/10th of what these others do, and actually has mechanisms in place - which work - to police themselves.

I think your analogy to Saddam is accurate. Saddam was a genocidal tyrant who ran one of the nastiest police states in the past 50 years. Bush did nothing even remotely in that ballpark. Nothing. And led a country which has never done anything even remotely in that ballpark, and has working mechanisms to police itself. But you lefties ignore Saddam and spend your time trying to come up with "war crimes" to pin on Bush.

Then you all want to pat yourselves on the backs for your human rights activism, which consists of strenuously ignoring human rights abusers to concentrate on your pet hate objects.

pdxuser
pdxuser

You think Emily Henochowicz shouldn't be obsessed with Israel? I'm pretty sure most Jews have a free pass to be as obsessed with Israel as they want, right or left. Israel has a policy of forced hunger toward a people. That's OK to get upset about, and it doesn't mean you're anti-Semitic, just as getting upset about Tibet doesn't make you Sinophobic, even if you don't simultaneously condemn all other Asian countries every time you mention Tibet.

When it comes to people who are poor and hungry, I generally care more about their poverty and hunger before I care about their political views or the less-than-likely chance they've committed a crime (the vastly overwhelming majority of Palestinians have never killed an Israeli, but are still punished as if they're guilty). That's why I don't criticize their politics with equal weight that I criticize their forced hunger and poverty. It really means nothing to me that those who are enforcing their hunger and poverty are mostly Jewish, other than that it seems puzzling to my brain that associates Jewish people with a lot of good things. And generally, when societies have better economies, they tend to become more evolved in other ways, too -- and I then expect more of them.

Sulayman
Sulayman

Lone democracy in the region? It's 2011, your talking points expired long ago. The region has Lebanon and Turkey, both democracies. Iran is a flawed democracy but it still counts. Heck, Egypt and Tunisia are on the way to it by the end of the year.

Supporting Israel is only hurting the US's interests in the region, and as this last month shows, clearly it isn't the way to change the region.

Sulayman
Sulayman

You missed the point completely. The standard of "Israel is better than itsneighbors" is a really shoddy one that the right-wingers love to throwaround, as if it absolves Israel of all blame. By that standard, Israelcould kill 1000 Lebanese or 5000 and it wouldn't make a difference becauseit's still "not as bad as they are." Heck, when the IDF's body count ofcivilians actually outnumbers who they're trying to target or the amount ofIsraeli civilian deaths that sparked it, they still defend it as "not anumbers game." It's a screwed-up cognitive dissonance that makes sense tonobody outside their circle.

I actually do criticize and denounce abusers of human rights (ever seen myearlier writings or come with me to protests? I thought not), eg Qadaffi hasshown to be a real old monster this last week

5ftflirt
5ftflirt

Do you work for the Iranian consulate or something? Or maybe you are a student at Columbia U. Jeez. I hope all those countries become democracies, in which their citizens put their energies toward prosperity and peaceful trade, rather than allowing themselves to be used as a hate mob toward Israel. But sounds like that's not the result you want.

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