Keshet is a national organization that works for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. The organization equips Jewish leaders with tools to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, creates spaces for queer Jewish teens to feel valued and develop their own leadership skills, and mobilizes the Jewish community to fight for LGBTQ justice. Keshet’s blog spotlights this work, as well as the voices of LGBTQ Jews, our families, and allies.
This past weekend, the National LGBTQ Task Force convened its annual Creating Change Conference. Founded in 1998, the Task Force’s mission for Creating Change was to “to build our movement’s political power from the ground up to secure our overarching goal of full equality, social justice and dignity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United States.”
You might have heard about Creating Change this year. Two weeks ago, the Task Force cancelled a reception hosted by A Wider Bridge, featuring speakers from Jerusalem Open House, after protests and accusations of “pinkwashing.” Many members of the Jewish community spoke out against this decision and, ultimately, the Task Force reinstated the reception.
The reception, which was held on Jan. 22, was protested by some conference attendees. You can read a firsthand account of the event on JQY’s website.
Following the event, Keshet issued a statement affirming its commitment to moving forward and standing in solidarity with all LGBTQ communities in the struggle for equal rights and human dignity. The full text follows:
Keshet stands in solidarity with all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities in their struggles for equal rights and human dignity. In the wake of the controversy at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change conference, Keshet asserts its firm belief that LGBTQ activists from Israel — and from every part of the world — deserve to tell their stories and be treated with respect.
American queer people are part of a contemporary liberation movement born of protest. Protests are a natural outgrowth of the free exchange of ideas, and the ability to speak out is a vital part of a robust and just society. Yet in the context of Creating Change, acts of protest should not silence queer activists from telling their stories simply because of their nationality.
LGBTQ people have a responsibility to facilitate spaces, both physical and emotional, in which diverse opinions and perspectives are encouraged and heard, and where civil discourse and productive dissent may thrive. We are at our best, as a movement, when we ground ourselves in empathy.
Just as Keshet’s work is based on the premise that the entire Jewish community is made stronger by our diversity, we must remember that the same holds true for the LGBTQ community.
Quite a few opinion pieces and reflections on the conference have been published in the past week. We gathered a few of them here for you to read. This is in no way a comprehensive list, and we welcome your additions in the comments section below. And, in the spirit of open and safe communication, we welcome a respectful discussion in the comments about Creating Change, the reception and the protest.
- The National LGBTQ Task Force Censors the Jews: Dana Beyer, Jan. 17, 2016, Huffington Post.
- Gay Jewish Group With Israel Ties Booted From LGBT Conference in Pinkwashing Feud: Debra Nussbaum Cohen, Jan. 18, 2016, Haaretz.
- Protesters Shut Down Israel-focused Event at Creating Change: Matt Simonette, Jan. 22, 2016, Windy City Times.
- The LGBTQ Left Has an Anti-Semitism Problem: Mark Joseph Stern, Jan. 25, 2016, Slate.
- Op-Ed: Gay Community Must Build a Tent Large Enough to Include Pro-Israel Voices: Arthur Slepian, Jan. 25, 2016, JTA.
- Wishing Your Opponents Dead Is Not Good for Israelis or Palestinians: Jay Michaelson, Jan. 25, Forward.
Creating Shame: Anti-Israel Protest Misguided, Offensive: Kevin Naff, Jan. 25, 2016, Washington Blade.
- Liberal Jews Trapped in ‘Terrifying’ New World of Uncompromising Anti-Israel Views: Debra Nussbaum Cohen, Jan. 25, 2016, Haaretz.
- A Wider Perspective on A Wider Bridge: A blog post from EQCA Legislative Director Alice Kessler, Jan. 25, 2016.
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