Several years ago, Zombie was kind enough to write about a group that demonstrates the far left’s dissonance between theory and reality to an extreme seldom seen: the pro-Palestinian GBLT group “Queers Undermining Israeli Terror” (QUIT), also known as Queers for Palestine. Zombie pointed out what should be obvious: that it is incredibly, incredibly stupid for a gay rights group to protest against the only country in the Middle East that tolerates homosexuality, and to instead support a group that punished homosexuality by death.
[T]he cognitive dissonance of Queers for Palestine — marching in support of those who would kill you if they were given the opportunity — only serves to illuminate the cognitive dissonance of the entire “anti-war movement.” Because the goal of the “War on Terror” is to protect the liberal, free, egalitarian democratic society that we all cherish from the forces of oppression, totalitarianism and religious fundamentalism. Yet the anti-war crowd strives to compel the very soldiers who are defending them to lay down their arms, as if the battle would suddenly cease if one army were to stop fighting. So the anti-war crowd must ignore the evidence that one side is fighting to impose the harshest form of religious conservatism not just on their own countries but on the entire world given half a chance, whereas the other side (our side) is fighting to preserve a progressive civilization. That’s right, folks — this war’s for you.
Another brilliant critique of QUIT was featured in the Advocate last year by James Kirchick, and is well worth reading. While Kirchick doesn’t employ the rhetoric of saving civilization, he does bring up what should be very obvious:
What makes QUIT oxymoronic is that their affinity for Palestine isn’t reciprocated. There may be queers for Palestine, but Palestine certainly isn’t for queers, either in the livable or empathetic sense. Like all Islamic polities, the Palestinian Authority systematically harasses gay people. Under the cloak of rooting out Israeli “collaborators,” P.A. officials extort, imprison, and torture gays. But Palestinian oppression of homosexuality isn’t merely a matter of state policy, it’s one firmly rooted in Palestinian society, where hatred of gays surpasses even that of Jews. Last October, a gay Palestinian man with an Israeli lover petitioned Israel’s high court of justice for asylum, claiming that his family threatened to kill him if he did not “reform.” He’s one of the few lucky Palestinians to be able to challenge his plight.
And that’s only in the relatively benign West Bank. The Gaza Strip, which has stagnated under the heel of Hamas’s Islamofascist rule since 2007, is an even more dangerous place for gays, “a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick,” in the words of a senior Hamas leader. As in Iran, Hamas’s patron and the chief sponsor of international terrorism, even the mere suspicion of homosexuality will get one killed in Gaza, being hurled from the roof of a tall building the method of choice.
It’s these facts that make the notion of “Queers for Palestine” so bizarre. Contrary to what some gay activists might have you believe, there really are not that many political subjects where one’s sexuality ought influence an opinion. Aside from the obvious issues related to civic equality (recognition of partnerships, open service in the military, etc.), how does homosexuality imply a particular viewpoint on complicated matters like Social Security Reform, health care policy, or the war in Iraq?
The politicization of homosexuality is something that many gays have to deal with as a result of the identity politics so ruthlessly enforced by the left. A friend of mine is being constantly pressured to come out to his parents because by not doing so, he is somehow betraying the cause.
But I digress …
So, we have a group of gay rights activists who seem to be more interested in using their sexuality as a political tool. Which brings us back to our friend Zombie.
Zombie has covered a recent QUIT protest of an Israel pro-gay film festival called “Out in Israel” — because every sane gay rights group would oppose a film festival highlighting progress in gay rights.
The focus of [QUIT’s] anger this time around was the “Out in Israel” film festival at San Francisco’s Roxie Theater, which is “a special showcase of new, recent and classic films from Israel exploring lesbian and gay life, imagery and stories.” The film festival is itself part of the larger overall Out in Israel LGBT Culture Festival, which celebrates all things gay in Israel.
Now, one would think that there would be nothing controversial in the slightest about a pro-gay festival in San Francisco. So I was mystified as to what exactly QUIT — itself purportedly a gay rights group — could possibly find so offensive about a pro-gay-rights festival as to merit a full-blown street protest. Out of curiosity, I decided to check it out, and to sincerely try to comprehend and present to the public their point of view.
After witnessing an entire protest of a gay rights group by another gay rights group, Zombie comes to the following conclusion:
[M]y analysis is this: The members of QUIT are in a “hipper-than-thou” arms race with other far-left radicals, and realized that if they want to be at the forefront of leftist political activism, they absolutely need to be anti-Israel and pro-Palestine, as that has become a defining feature of far-left ideologies. But as a gay rights group, QUIT was confronted by the deeply unfortunate fact that gays are safe, free and happy in Israel, while being oppressed, closeted and/or dead in Palestine. Other far-left groups coped with this problematic political conundrum by studiously ignoring the whole issue, thus obviating the need to resolve it. QUIT, on the other hand, uniquely has attempted to address the issue head on. Yet in order to somehow justify being pro-Palestine while at the same time supporting gay rights, QUIT necessarily needed to engage in the most ludicrous philosophical gymnastics in order to find some way to reconcile two irreconcilable positions.
But the end result is worse than QUIT could have imagined, because when all is said and done, they are promoting a society in which gays are simply not allowed to exist, and end up championing the grotesquely oppressive Arab/Islamic social order.
If QUIT truly cared about the rights of gays in Palestine and the Middle East, they would celebrate the treatment of gays in Israel and point to it as a model for other Middle Eastern countries to emulate. Instead of fighting for Arab self-rule in Palestinian territories — which would inevitably lead to a complete extirpation of all gay rights if not all gay people — QUIT should take the position that Israel should administer the Palestinian territories, because only under Israeli rule could gay Palestinians have any chance of survival. And instead of advocating that Palestinians continue their violent confrontational stance against Israel, QUIT should absolutely insist on Palestinian non-violence, which would allow the endless Intifada to fade away, quell all terror incidents, and allow Israel to once again open the border to Palestinian day workers and immigrants — and allow gay Palestinians to escape to the freedom of Israeli society.
But no. QUIT does the exact opposite of all those things. Which makes them among the most mystifying, and in some ways, the most loathsome of all leftist protest groups.
This is something I’ve noticed about left wing politics that makes me inherently distrust it: It is not based upon actual principle, but expediency. If QUIT were based on principle, it would fight against the oppression of gays everywhere, and support places where gays were treated fairly (which, as Zombie points out, includes Israel). But the key here is expediency: being pro-Israel translates to poor leftist street cred. That expediency amounts to nothing more than social status in the leftist collective, a standing on the who-is-more-radical-and-daring totem pole. And as Zombie says, it is more chic to oppose Jews the evil corporate militarist global Zionist oppressor overlords than it is to point out that an Islamic territory whose chief export is terrorism also has a nasty habit of brutalizing and murdering homosexuals.
And this rationalization is made possible by another strong trait of leftism: the placing of theory over reality. Leftist theory says that capitalism is oppressive, as are nationalism and the use of military force. Israel embodies these things, so according to the theory, it is oppressive. So the leftists oppose Israel, because theory says that Israel is bad. And if Israel is the oppressor, then the Palestinians must be the oppressed, and therefore should be supported. And the reality of the situation, that the Palestinian Authority is highly oppressive to its population, that homosexuality is punished by death, and that Israeli society is a free and open one, is completely ignored.