We speak out against pinkwashing and LGBT tourism to Israel

Our lively protest against pinkwashing gained widespread support in central London on Saturday 18 January.

Heaven_protest_smaller

We had called the protest after Gay Star News invited the Israeli Tourist Board to their Beach Party, an LGBT tourism event. This is a classic pinkwashing – the Israeli authorities use pictures of the Tel Aviv beaches to promote a positive and LGBT-friendly image of Israel, while the reality of the apartheid wall, illegal settlements and violence against Palestinian children goes unmentioned.

Over forty people attended the protest – there were banners from the Haringey Justice for Palestinians, International Jewish Network and Queer Strike. Activists from London Palestine Action came along – while for other Palestine campaigners this was their third event of the day, after a Sodastream protest outside John Lewis, and a 500-strong protest at the Israeli embassy called by PSC. The protest was also supported by South East Region TUC LGBT Network and UNISON Greater London LGBT Committee. We gave away hundreds of our gay tourism postcards, and had an overwhelmingly positive reception.

Things went less well, it seems, inside the event – one of us who went inside reported that there were only about fifty people present in the huge space of Heaven, and the Israeli stall was largely deserted.

Tourism campaign: We say “Gay travel? Not to Israel!”

Gay men on a beachIsrael spends millions promoting resorts like Tel Aviv as gay tourist destinations. Our tourism postcard warns holiday makers not to fall for it.

The card makes plain the reality of military occupation, violence against Palestinian children, the siege on Gaza, ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and apartheid system of checkpoints and Israeli-Jewish-only roads.

Counterposing pictures of a gay couple sunning on the beach with two children amid rubble in Gaza, it sends the clear message Just Don’t Go, and calls on people to boycott Israel until the goals of the BDS campaign are met.

We’ve printed thousands of postcards, and we’ll be handing them out at London Pride 2013 on Saturday 29 June

A wonderful day at World Pride in London

We were delighted by the warm reception we got at Pride – hundreds of people took our postcards. As Israeli artists performed and tried to put over classic pinkwashing messages we waved a sea of flags. And GLF veteran and PSC stalwart Frankie Green took to the stage with a Palestine flag and a Free Palestine t-shirt.

Photo of crowd in Trafalgar Square with many Palestine flags
The photo that MC Gok Wan tweeted around the world

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