Queers Against Israeli Apartheid
Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade bans phrase “Israeli Apartheid”
Comments | Print friendly | Subscribe | Email Us
On Tuesday, the directors of Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade announced that they had voted 4-3 to prohibit the phrase “Israeli Apartheid” from this year’s parade. News of the decision was leaked last Friday by Kyle Rae, an openly gay city councillor who is on the board.
The decision was aimed at the group, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) who have had a float in the annual event since 2007. Members of the QuAIA can still participate; they are just not allowed to use the words Israeli Apartheid.
Banning the phrase resulted primarily from the work of Martin Gladstone, a gay Jewish lawyer who did a lot of lobbying with governments who contribute taxpayers’ money to the annual event which does bring big bucks to Canada’s largest city.
In March, the Ontario legislature unanimously passed a resolution condemning Israeli Apartheid Week which is held annually at several universities. And last month, the federal government announced that they were withdrawing almost $400,000 in funding for the parade. While the official version was that this was done for fairness, to spread the money around the country, it is hard to believe that the publicity surrounding QuAIA’s role in the event did not play any part in the decision of the feds to scrap the funding. And in May, Toronto City Councillor and mayoral candidate Giorgio Mammoliti put a motion on the table for the city to deny funding to the parade if QuAIA is allowed to participate. According to Mammoliti and others, the Toronto Gay Pride Parade would be in breach of the city’s anti-discrimination policy.
The directors voted to implement banning the phrase reluctantly. They bowed under pressure while insisting that free speech was paramount. They equivocated until they decided they couldn’t risk the city of Toronto withholding funding on the basis of a violation of the anti-discrimination policy.
The members of QuAIA are perfect little lefties. Everyone should have freedom of speech as long as others agree with exactly what they are saying. This was excellently illustrated by the way some of the QuAIA members acted at the press conference when Pride Toronto announced their decision. The speaker was shouted down by these so-called “free speech advocates” because they didn’t like what she was saying. They didn’t like what they were being told so they shouted her down.
What has occurred recently around the Gay Pride Parade is a perfect example of what is being called the new anti-Semitism. This form of anti-Semitism does not consist of criticizing Israel but of holding Israel to a different standard than other countries are held. The purpose of the Gay Pride Parade, or at least its purpose when it originated was to demand or champion the rights of gays and lesbians. It’s not a parade to complain about human rights generally and Israel is the only country that is held up for criticism for what is clearly a non-sexual orientation issue. But QuAIA don’t care about that; they just have to use their parade to bash Israel. The fact that the countries that surround Israel are Muslim countries that discriminate against if not torture and kill homosexuals is completely irrelevant. Members of the QuAIA prefer to champion Palestinians over Israelis which is their right but if the Palestinians ever get their own state, it will hardly be any more gay friendly than those other countries. These people have such an obsession against Israel and the Jews that live there that gay rights, what the parade is presumably about, are all but ignored. One QuAIA member was quoted as saying that he wished Israel would bash a few gays; it would make their work so much easier. Perhaps he should start another group; Queers for Israeli Gay Bashing.
QuAIA is now insisting that they will take part in the parade anyway and under the banner of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. They don’t care about the people they hurt by the hatred they display; they have free speech. But let someone verbally say something that’s not very nice about homosexuals and just wait and watch them whine and complain. No doubt they will come up with different wording that will convey the same message without use of the offending words.
QuAIA are now insisting that they take part in the parade under the banner of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid anyway. The bad news is that it is doubtful that those in charge of the parade have the will or the guts to stop them. If that is the case, the parade’s funding should be completely withdrawn next year.