Friday, June 26, 2009

Jewish PRIDE taking shape in T.O.

Yesterday, the board members of Kulanu, Toronto's main Jewish LGBT organization, issued a press release making their position known re: this weekend's Toronto Dyke March and Pride Parade events and the fact that this year marks the first time that the Toronto Pride executive has deigned to officially allow anti-Israel messaging (in the form of a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, or QuAIA).

Heebonics readers will be familiar with this topic from my May 21 blog entry "A Queer kind of ignorance emerging in Toronto". There was lengthy commentary and some interesting discussion about the topic. Some of the anti-Israel signs spotted in last year's Toronto Pride parade looked something like this:

Here's the bulk of Kulanu's release and some of the banners they plan to hoist proudly this weekend, interspersed throughout.

“While Pride parades are innately political, the political issues addressed by these parades have primarily focused on national and international LGBTQ human rights issues. The official entry of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) in Toronto’s Pride Parade this year has brought the Israeli/Palestinian situation to the fore,” said Nate Fuks, a member of Kulanu Toronto’s executive committee.

“Queer experience demonstrates that free expression and protest are necessary to effectively speak out on issues of oppression and social justice, but at the same time, it’s important that a positive, affirming and constructive message is expressed so as not to drive a wedge between many within the Queer community who share similar social justice values and goals,” Mr. Fuks added.

Kulanu Toronto notes that Israel has taken significant and positive steps to respect LGBTQ people and their rights, including, among other things, legal recognition of foreign performed same-sex marriages, decriminalization of homosexuality, recognition of same-sex adoption, same-sex spousal benefits and inheritance rights, and state funding of sex reassignment surgery.

“Israel has an active gay community, with well-attended annual Pride festivals. The right to hold a Pride festival in Jerusalem has been repeatedly upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court despite the unified opposition of religious groups representing at least three major religions,” said Nicole Nussbaum, a fellow executive member.

Ms. Nussbaum added: “Kulanu also recognizes the tremendous work of Israeli LGBTQ groups, such as the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, which work on a grass-roots level to help advance the rights of LGBTQ people of all backgrounds and promote the values of tolerance and pluralism in Israel”. Jerusalem Open House has been the driving force behind Jerusalem Pride – Love Without Borders, the signature event and celebration of LGBTQ pride in the city.

Kulanu Toronto is proud of the accomplishments of the Israeli Queer community and their embodiment of Pride Toronto’s 2009 “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” theme.

According to Kulanu's Toronto Coordinator, Justine Apple, the group will be marching with Israeli and rainbow flags this year to show solidarity with Israel and help counter QuAIA's presence at the parade. For more on this story, read the June 11 CJN report.


Anonymous said...

"Jew have long advocated against hate crimes against all minorities, including queers”...

This was before B’nai Brith vice-president for life Frank Dimant began his flirtation with anti-gay, anti-feminist “Christian Zionist” evangelicals like John Hagee and Charles McVety.

Dr. Steven Sheinberg, while he was chair of the League for Human Rights, was forced to decline an invitation by Svend Robinsion to testify before a parliamentary committee in favour of his bill to include gays and lesbians in protections against hate speech because, in Sheinberg’s words, “Dimant, would not support the bill without protection being given to the speech of anti-gay clergy.”

Anonymous #2 (gay loving straight jew)

Vardit said...

Those holding sign "Israeli Apartheid"
just wondering if they know where Israel is on a map??

Blintzkrieg said...


Again, you seem fixated on what B'nai Brith says about the Jewish community. You realize they are not the last word on Jewish community affairs in this country, right?

Have a look at what the Canadian Jewish Congress supports. In fact, its CEO, Bernie Farber, and others, marched in this weekend's Pride parade with Kulanu.

Your obsession with BB and its policies is potentially blinding you to the rest of the Jewish community's leadership and their different narratives.

Anonymous said...

Dear Blintzkreig,

I agree with you that the BB and its policies are against real Jewish community affairs.
I bring up the BB because they are tight and in bed with the CJN which runs this blog.

also, Jewish leaders make a point of contrasting the experiences of queers in Israel with queer life in Arab countries, claiming that. where Israel is progressive, Muslim countries are repressive. That makes Muslims who come out brave and courageous, no? So celebrate EL Farouk KHAKI , don't try to control his political beliefs.

Anonymous #2 (gay loving straight jew)

Blintzkrieg said...


I never said BB and its policies are against Jewish community affairs, only that they aren't the only voice in the community.

As for CJN being "in bed" with BB, that's quite the conspiratorial accusation. The paper is "in bed" with any number of organizations, by that logic. But it's clear you choose to believe the worst of any member of the community who doesn't share your view of the situation.

In my opinion, El Farouk Khaki and all gay Muslims who come out are brave. As are all who come out in general. It takes a lot of courage to do it. And they should be commended.

But just because Khaki is brave in one respect doesn't mean he's not being disingenuous when he singles out Israel for its policies on Palestinians. He and his family had to flee Tanzania after he was born due to political persecution. Some of the worst human rights violations in the world are being committed by countries adjacent to his birthplace, yet I don't hear him speaking out against them. Instead, he rails against Israel. Why? You tell me.

And you just admitted yourself that where Israel is progressive on LGBT issues, Muslim countries are repressive. So why the vitriol? As far as I can see, gay (and gay supportive) Jews are only calling it like they see it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Blintzkrieg,

It seems myself and yourself are jews who are big supporters of gay rights.

It seems lots of Conservative jews and othordox jew aren't supporters of gay rights (and are in bed with the crazy christian right).

Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America joined a coalition of faith-based groups supporting Proposition 8, , would nullify the California State Supreme Court’s May 15 ruling that gay men and lesbians can have equal rights.

The Toronto gay parade is viewed by most conservative and orothdox Jews - as well as by many traditional Jews as an abomination and an anathema to biblical values and the holiness of Jerusalem.

These jews sounds a lot like muslims who are against gay rights.

Anonymous #2 (gay loving straight jew)