New York, NY, January 24, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed deep sadness about the intimidating disruption of a post-Shabbat services reception at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s “Creating Change” conference. Reception organizer, A Wider Bridge, a pro-Israel LGBT advocacy group, had invited Jerusalem Open House (JOH) to discuss the progress and struggles of the diverse LGBTQ community since the tragic murder of Shira Banki at Jerusalem Pride this past summer.
According to reports, approximately 200 people of the almost 4,000 conference attendees, protested outside the reception, and a handful entered the reception and prevented the representatives from JOH from speaking. Video from the demonstration captures protestors chanting “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Must Be Free,” a call for replacing the State of Israel with Palestine, rather than a two-state solution to the conflict.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, issued the following statement:
Shutting down dialogue and discussion is the antithesis of what our long-time partner, the National LGBTQ Task Force, and its ‘Creating Change’ conference, are about. We had praised the Task Force when it reversed its initial decision to cancel the reception. In announcing the revised decision, Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey called upon all conference attendees and members of the wider Task Force family to join her in moving toward inclusion and constructive dialogue. Sadly, protesters ignored that call and used chilling words of hate and intimidation to shut down and silence other LGBTQ voices.
The protestors’ actions and messages reflect a dramatic lack of understanding about the right of LGBTQ people to not be defined by the political conflicts of their country and negates the essential work of Jerusalem Open House (JOH), a community organization that serves Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. Their perception of JOH’s work is grossly distorted by their erroneous views of Israel and their endorsement of the destruction of the Jewish state.
In the simplistic understanding of many of the protestors, Israel and Israelis can do no ‘right.’ Any individuals or groups that highlight or reflect progress on LGBTQ rights are accused of ‘pinkwashing,’ an allegation that they are selectively highlighting the attainment of LGBTQ rights in Israel in an effort to deflect attention away from Israel’s treatment of Palestinian people.
We look forward to continuing our work with the Task Force to advance full freedom, justice, and equality for all LGBTQ people and finding ways to support efforts towards increasing rather than limiting dialogue.