Crackdown on LGBT+ in West Bank, Omar and Tlaib Targeted (Again)

20/08/2019

While I only check Twitter on occasion when posting there, it can offer some interesting points (if you follow the right people and topics). A recurring one is the constant attacks against Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the latest I’ve seen carrying over from their ban from visiting Israel and Palestine. It’s as though people can’t differentiate between support for a people and support for everything certain groups do.

The Palestinian police in the West Bank have stated that they will be cracking down on LGBT+ events set up by rights group alQaws. It’s a move that has rightly received criticism by many, although sadly it’s not overly surprising given the region is filled with countries where homosexuality is criminalised entirely. But the reason I bring this up in relation to Omar and Tlaib is that people on social media have taken to accusing them of supporting this ban – solely because they support a free Palestine.

Now, it should be obvious, but it is possible for people to simultaneously support and criticise different aspects of a society or group. Omar, Tlaib, and others with similar views over the Israel-Palestine conflict support Palestinians in their fight for justice against the Israeli occupation. The accusation against them was that, due to this support, they must agree with the anti-LGBT+ sentiments expressed by those in the West Bank – because that’s how support works… right?

Omar responded to this accusation by reaffirming her stance on LGBT+ rights, condemning the West Bank for their controversial decision. But she also brought forth another point, that is, you can’t equate this ban to the decades long systematic oppression of the Palestinian people. the implication here being that, because the West Bank authorities are doing something bad, the occupation and abuses carried out by Israel are somehow justified or balanced. There are countless criticisms you can make of how different Palestinian groups have acted, but two wrongs don’t cancel each other out here – we must approach it all in the same manner.

LGBT+ people in the community do face persecution (the above article references a teenage boy who was stabbed, potentially by a family member, outside a Tel Aviv youth shelter) and these issues must be addressed. But discussions about sexual orientation must be separated from discussion about the occupation, and they should in no way be equated. Specifically, they should not be used to falsely claim that others support discrimination because of their stance on a separate issue. That is incredibly misleading and is simply a moronic attempt to defame people who have very clear reputations and views.

It does appear to follow a trend, however. Muslims, or more generally just Arabs or people of colour, are constantly called out for the actions of a minority. Muslims are accused of not condemning terror attacks; African migrants (here in Australia) are accused of not condemning the ‘prevalent gang violence’. In reality, these groups do condemn such activities, quite vocally – whether this gets reported on properly in the media is a different question.

Omar and Tlaib shouldn’t have to defend themselves against provocative rhetoric every time something negative happens involving Palestinians, but it always appears to be required of them no matter how many times they reiterate the same points. It is to their credit that they do so, defiantly opposing the stereotypes cast at them. Those who try to use these distraction tactics to justify the occupation, or to discredit these women, should be called out for the provocateurs they are and given no credence.

 

Previous piece: The Washington Post’s Denial of Bias

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