AT THE JANUARY 2016 Creating Change conference, held in Chicago, hundreds of pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli activists shut down a reception for Israeli LGBT activists and their American supporters. Apparently the reception followed a Shabbat service. The group sponsoring the reception was A Wider Bridge, a U.S.-based organization that “builds bridges between Israelis and lgbtq North Americans and allies.” Also participating were leaders from Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, a cross-community organization that serves LGBT Israeli Jews and Arabs, as well as Palestinians who travel from the West Bank to Jerusalem for HIV testing and care and other kinds of LGBT health care.
The activists who shut down the reception included critics of so-called “pinkwashing,” which claims that Israel is a racist, apartheid state that deflects attention from a poor human rights record toward Palestinians by highlighting its progressive LGBT policies. The “pinkwashing” charge has been advanced for years by groups like the New York-based Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, which has tried to get broad-based LGBT organizations to denounce Israel and declare their support for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.