Connect with us

Equality Forum: ‘Pink Wash’ Of Human Rights Abuses Decried By Protesters At Israel Panel



The New Civil Rights Movement’s John Culhane is the official blogger for Equality Forum, Philadelphia’s internationally known and always interesting cavalcade of events that celebrates, informs and provokes on all (or many, anyway) things LGBT. John will be sharing reports daily over the next few days. Read all John’s Equality Forum posts here. 

Well, that was interesting.

About an hour into last night’s Equality ForumFeatured Nation: Israel” panel, four or five protesters barged into the room and began shouting about Israel’s inhumane treatment of the Palestinians. They had a huge banner that they never managed to unfurl, and what looked like a manifesto that they never managed to read — because they were quickly dragged out of the room by the hotel’s security staff.

All but one woman. Inexplicably wearing what looked like a Mardi Gras mask, she moved toward the front of the room and tried to speak. For a minute or so, there was a bizarre stand-off between her and several loud and angry audience members, who shouted (unhelpfully) “Get out.”

Enter Nurit Shein, the panel moderator (and Executive Director the Mazzoni Center), who tried to quell the disturbance by calming stating that she understood the reason for the protests, but that this wasn’t the right forum. Then, in a welcome surprise, another panelist — Anat Nir, a young Israeli activist who works on the economic side of LGBT equality — somewhat disagreed with her, contending that these were issues that needed airing. Then she and other panelists described the work that the LGBT leadership in Tel Aviv was doing with Palestinians in Gaza and Arabs living in Israel in order to help them deal with a culture that was more repressive than Israel’s. The activist seems disarmed by this civil response, and, while she didn’t exactly go quietly (a security guy “helped” her out), the panelists had found the antidote to the venom in her voice.

Was the event the better for the protesters? I’d say yes, but not in the way they’d intended. They did succeed in getting the panelists to talk about the challenges of doing LGBT rights in a society where there are other injustices that go unaddressed; although, as more than one of them painfully pointed out, the situation isn’t markedly different in the U.S. (It was either Shein or Nir who pointed out that, for example, the continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan is problematic, but that’s no reason for the work of LGBT activists to stop.) And they did, in a way, get people to consider what they were saying. But really, their goal was to disrupt and to shut people up. And that rarely (not never!) seems like a good idea to me. Why not be part of the audience and ask penetrating questions? And then set up your protest outside? They did that — as I walked to my car, a small group of college-age students were standing on the sidewalk bearing signs that rebuked the “pink washing” of Israel — by which I gather they mean the effort to use progress on LGBT rights to camouflage the deeper human rights abuses that continue.


The protest aside, the panel was remarkably informative. Shai Doitsh, the Chairperson of the Israeli National LGBT Task Force, provided a succinct summary of LGBT rights progress in Israel over the past thirty years. Until 1988, it was illegal to be gay (by which I took him to mean that the law criminalized acts of same-sex intimacy, as the Israelis had uncritically imported English law into their system when the nation was founded). Then that law changed, and, a few years later, the exclusion of gays from the military was lifted. (More than one panelist described the importance of this legal change in Israel, given the social standing of the Israeli Army and the expectation that everyone will serve.) And — in a reminder that high-profile media events are as important as legal change in moving a rights agenda — he pointed to the 1998 EuroVision win of an Israeli transgendered woman, Dana International, for the song (wait for it!) “Diva.” (For those who don’t know what EuroVision is, shame on you! One word: ABBA!)

Doitsh said that many of the advances had come from the courts and not Parliament, a statement that provided a smooth segue into the remarks by Irit Rosenblum, a very smart lawyer who directs the New Family Organization. This title isn’t a politically motivated misdirection for a group that deals with LGBT rights — as its name implies, “New Family” is concerned with the rights of all kinds of families that aren’t recognized under Israeli law. And because that law is grounded in religion, the group of legal outliers includes couples interfaith couples, non-religious couples, and foreign workers — along with LGBT couples. The strategy has been to pursue practical solutions to the legal problems of parenthood, private contracting, inheritance, and so on by “flooding” the family courts with petitions and cases. And this has paid off, because dozens of adverse rulings are quickly swamped by one or two good ones. Once a court has simply seen and protected the couples in front of them, it becomes harder for later courts to backtrack. This approach has also gained some traction here in the U.S., with scholars like Nancy Polikoff emphasizing the need for the law to “value all families” — not just the LGBT ones that are, for many of us, our primary concern. Small victories can be used to pry bigger ones out of the courts. (I was particularly interested in the story of how a gay couple was forced to cool its heels in India with the baby they’d created with a surrogate, until a combination of legal and social pressure resulted in their repatriation.)

Yaniv Weizman, a Tel Aviv city council member and advisor to the mayor on LGBT issues, thanked Rosenblum for her work and then, movingly, gestured to his husband in the front row as evidence of its effect. “Tel Aviv is so gay!”, said Weizman. While we have a “Gayborhood” (I hate that name!) in Philadelphia, Tel Aviv is an entirely gay-open city. (I also learned that it was recently named the No. 1 Gay Tourist Destination in the world.) But the rest of the country isn’t as progressive. In this way, the city isn’t too different from American cities and their surrounding areas. But it’s often described, he noted, as a “bubble” — an image that I’m sure would have appealed to the protesters as a way of describing the LGBT’s focus on their own equality (but the image isn’t accurate or entirely fair to the LGBT community, even though Weizman conceded that they “weren’t doing enough” to help their Palestinian gay brothers (not sisters so much, who I gather are so invisible at this point that there’s not much to be done right now)).

Anat Nir was the most practical, and, in a way, the most compelling (which is saying something given the effectiveness of all the panelists). She clearly understands the need for financial backing in support of social spaces and artistic ventures as ways of pushing things forward. She began by opening a lesbian bar because there was no place for her to go. But then she realized that there was a need for broader social opportunities, and has pushed forward with a gay and lesbian film festival. She has also provided funding for the first year of a safe living space for LGBTQ youth, and has campaigned for medical facilities to serve our population. Then there’s mortgage financing and life insurance issues, which she is currently working on.


Thanks to committed activists like this, a lot’s getting done in Israel, and especially in Tel Aviv. And they’re not leaving out their Arab neighbors. I can’t resist closing with this quote from the Epilogue of one of the best books I’ve ever read, A History of the Jews. I include it here as a counterweight to the sometimes veiled anti-Semitism that too-often colors otherwise accurate criticisms of Israel:

“Human confidence…, if it is strong and tenacious enough, is a force in itself, which pushes on the hinge of events and moves them. The Jews believed they were a special people with such unanimity and passion, and over so long a span, that they became one. They…indeed have a role because they wrote it for themselves.”


Were he born 10,000 years ago, John Culhane would not have survived to adulthood; he has no useful, practical skills. He is a law professor who writes about various and sundry topics, including: disaster compensation; tort law; public health law; literature; science; sports; his own personal life (when he can bear the humanity); and, especially, LGBT rights and issues. He teaches at the Widener University School of Law and is a Senior Fellow at the Thomas Jefferson School of Population Health.

He is also a contributor to Slate Magazine, and writes his own eclectic blog. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter if you’re blessed with lots of time.

John Culhane lives in the Powelton Village area of Philadelphia with his partner David and their twin daughters, Courtnee and Alexa. Each month, he awaits the third Saturday evening for the neighborhood Wine Club gathering.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.


Experts Call on Trump to Release Search Warrant and Inventory List as His Supporters Talk of ‘Civil War’



Legal experts and other experts are urging – or in some cases, daring – Donald Trump to publish a copy of the FBI’s search warrant and the inventory list of the ten cartons of classified documents removed from Mar-a-Lago’s basement Monday, as his supporters openly call for civil war in response to what the former president called a “raid.”

“After the search, the federal agents hauled away roughly 10 more boxes,” The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

That makes the total number of cartons the former president was storing at his Florida home approximately 25, based on reports that 15 cartons had to be retrieved by the National Archives earlier this year.

READ MORE: ‘He Was Going to Sacrifice You’: Pence Mocked for Rushing to Support Trump After FBI Mar-a-Lago Raid

Almost immediately upon news breaking that the FBI had executed a search warrant, Trump supporters went wild. They formed a convoy outside Mar-a-Lago, and online countless threats of violence and “civil war” have been made.

Tuesday morning CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan posted a graph, noting the “big spike in tweets referencing ‘civil war’ right after the news of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago broke last night.”

Dr. Caroline Orr Bueno posted an image of a large number of tweets that call for civil war and other related threats of violence, including: “I already bought my ammo,” “Civil war! Pick up arms, people!” “Civil War 2.0 just kicked off,” “Let’s do the war,” and “One step closer to a kinetic civil war.”

And Tuesday afternoon NBC News reported, “After Mar-a-Lago search, users on pro-Trump forums agitate for ‘civil war’ — including a Jan. 6 rioter.”

READ MORE: ‘God Anointed Him’: Christian Right Expert Explains Conservative Outrage After FBI Raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

Legal experts have made clear they believe FBI’s execution of a lawful federal search warrant is most likely in connection with a national security and counterintelligence operation, not a casual stroll into the private estate of a former U.S. president – and certainly not a political move, like Trump supporters are falsely claiming.

Former Dept. of Justice Inspector General Michael Bromwich, who is also a former Asst. U.S. Attorney at the Southern District of New York (SDNY) notes that “Trump has the search warrant, specifying the crimes being investigated, and the inventory of the items seized.”

READ MORE: ‘Sitting President Asking for Civil War’: Parscale Blames Trump for Insurrection – Says His ‘Rhetoric Killed Someone’

“He has chosen not to share those items publicly although he is free to do so,” Bromwich adds.

Former U.S. Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal on MSNBC Tuesday morning:

“Donald Trump, you have a copy of the warrant. It explains what they were looking for, what statutes they think were violated, what judge signed off on that…If you believe this is such an abuse, release the warrant and let us decide for ourselves.”

“By the way,” noted Richard Stengel, a former U.S. Under Secretary of State, “Trump now has the search warrant and the inventory of what was taken in his possession. If this raid was so egregious and unjustified, why not release them?”

“Trump can release the search warrant and the inventory of what the FBI took. Why hasn’t he?” asked Marc Elias, the DNC’s top attorney who successfully fought more than 60 cases of alleged election fraud brought by the Trump team and his supporters.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, responding to a Fox News tweet with video of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) that reads, “‘WE DESERVE ANSWERS NOW'” wrote: “Some of those questions could be answered if Trump released the search warrant as well as the inventory of items seized, which his team presumably has.”

Politico’s Kyle Cheney tweeting his article titled, “Why the Trump search warrant is nothing like Hillary’s emails,” wrote: “One person who could clear most of it up? Trump. He has access to the inventory of records at Mar-a-Lago and likely received a copy of the search warrant. He would also know the nature of the classified documents at issue.”





Continue Reading


‘He Was Going to Sacrifice You’: Pence Mocked for Rushing to Support Trump After FBI Mar-a-Lago Raid



Former Vice President Mike Pence, who was by Donald Trump‘s side constantly promoting and defending him when he was President, and who was subjected to Trump’s support of rioters and insurrectionists calling to “hang Mike Pence,” is being highly criticized and mocked for again rushing to defend Trump in the wake of the FBI’s raid at Mar-a-Lago.

Experts have made clear they believe FBI’s execution of a lawful federal search warrant is most likely in connection with a national security and counterintelligence operation, not a casual stroll into the private estate of a former U.S. president.

But not according to Pence, who is strongly believed to be organizing a 2024 presidential run.

READ MORE: ‘God Anointed Him’: Christian Right Expert Explains Conservative Outrage After FBI Raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

“I share the deep concern of millions of Americans over the unprecedented search of the personal residence of President Trump. No former President of the United States has ever been subject to a raid of their personal residence in American history,” he writes.

“After years where FBI agents were found to be acting on political motivation during our administration, the appearance of continued partisanship by the Justice Department must be addressed,” he claims, which is at best a twisting of facts. No FBI agent was found to have taken official action based on personal political beliefs.

“Yesterday’s action undermines public confidence in our system of justice and Attorney General Garland must give a full accounting to the American people as to why this action was taken and he must do so immediately,” Pence demanded.

READ MORE: ‘This Is a National Security Issue’: Former FBI Agents Note Key Details About ‘Raid’ on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

Pence could have made the exact same demand of Donald Trump, who has a copy of the lawfully executed search warrant and inventory of the likely hundreds or thousands of documents that are the rightful property of the U.S. government, and recovered by the FBI from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.

Meanwhile, Pence was singing a very different tune int he weeks before he was elected Vice President.

We call on the FBI to immediately release all emails pertinent to their investigation,” he tweeted about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on October 28, 2016. “Americans have the right to know before Election Day.”

Trump “and I commend the FBI for reopening an investigation into Clinton’s personal email server because no one is above the law,” Pence added just hours later.

Responses to Pence’s remarks on Tuesday were strong.

“Mike he was going to sacrifice you,” tweeted Daily Kos staff writer Gabe Ortíz.

“No President has ever attempted to have an armed mob assassinate his Vice President either,” wrote journalist Marcy Wheeler.

Trump sent a “violent mob to murder you so he could end [the] republic,” tweeted economist David Rothschild. “Trump took boxes of classified documents from White House & is known to destroy documents.”

“Trump won in 2016 because FBI intervened on his behalf over ‘concern’ about Clinton’s document retention & security,” he continued. “Not investigating & prosecuting former president who flaunts breaking law, including leading coup against US, undermines rule-of-law for all of US.”

“You don’t know what the FBI’s warrant said or what evidence was presented to the judge who authorized it,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). “Your suggestion that Trump should be beyond accountability to the law, like your silence when Trump called for imprisonment of his opponents as president, harms our country.”

Talking Points memo editor and founder Josh Marshall writes, “this is a good reminder of who Mike Pence is. None of this happened. The FBI never plotted against Trump. To the extent it has org bias it’s toward the right. Everyone knows this. Pence is just repeating anti-‘deep state’ propaganda invented to give Trump cover for his crimes.”

“The pervasive rightwing lie and conspiracy theory that the FBI is controlled by Biden for political purposes is based on the assumption that everyone in the Biden admin, the FBI, the department of justice, the media and secret service is corrupt and abusing power—and trump is not,” wrote Condé Nast legal affairs editor Luke Zaleski.

Vox’s legal expert, Ian Millhiser asks, “Is there anyone on earth more pathetic than Mike Pence? Donald Trump egged on a lynch mob that wanted Pence hanged, and Pence is still Trump’s toady.”



Continue Reading


‘Pledging to Sue’: Christian Nationalist GOP Nominee Subpoenaed by J6 Committee ‘Didn’t Answer a Single Question’



Christian nationalist Doug Mastriano, the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nominee for Pennsylvania who was at the US Capitol on January 6 and is seen as a central figure in the plot to overturn the election, complied with a subpoena to appear before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack but didn’t answer any questions.

“Trump ally Doug Mastriano’s virtual appearance Tuesday before the House January 6 committee only lasted about 15 minutes,” CNN reports, adding that “‘he didn’t answer a single question,’ according to a source familiar with the matter.”

New York Times reporter Luke Broadwater confirms, adding that Mastriano is “pledging to sue the committee,” although it is unclear on what grounds.

READ MORE: Mastriano’s Consultant Just Posted Video Declaring ‘We Have Multiple Candidates…Who Are Christian Nationalists’

Mastriano is a conspiracy theorist with strong ties to far right wing extremists including antisemitic Gab found Andrew Torba.

CNN adds that “Mastriano’s attorney cut off the virtual appearance soon after it began, the source said. His lawyer, Tim Parlatore, took issue with several procedural matters related to the deposition, and raised questions about the legality of the subpoena that Mastriano received from the panel, the source added.”

As of May the Committee had already interviewed over 1000 people and it appears few, if any, have made these claims.

The New Yorker in May called Mastriano “a leader of the Stop the Steal campaign, and claims that he spoke to Donald Trump at least fifteen times between the 2020 election and the insurrection at the Capitol, on January 6th.”

“He urged his followers to attend the rally at the Capitol that led to the riots, saying, ‘I’m really praying that God will pour His Spirit upon Washington, D.C., like we’ve never seen before.’ Throughout this time, he has cast the fight against both lockdowns and Trump’s electoral loss as a religious battle against the forces of evil. He has come to embody a set of beliefs characterized as Christian nationalism, which center on the idea that God intended America to be a Christian nation, and which, when mingled with conspiracy theory and white nationalism, helped to fuel the insurrection.”

The founders repeatedly made clear the U.S. is not nor was created as a Christian nation.




Continue Reading


Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.