After Calls to Boycott Israeli Festival, Dazed Magazine Celebrates ‘Queer Cinema for Palestine’ Confab… Being Held Nowhere Near West Bank, Gaza Strip

Reprinted from Honest Reporting.


British arts and culture magazine Dazed has run a gushing piece about an upcoming movie festival, ‘Queer Cinema for Palestine,’ which will reportedly celebrate “global queer realities and standing in solidarity with Palestinians.”

The November screenings have been timed to coincide with the Tel Aviv International LGBTQ+ Film Festival, known as TLVFest, after organizers of the former accused the latter of “pinkwashing.”

As HonestReporting highlighted last week, attempts to encourage a boycott of the Israeli event prompted the release of a letter signed by more than 200 Hollywood celebrities denouncing the BDS-led campaign.

“Pinkwashing” is a frequent charge that accuses the Jewish state of exploiting its progressive stance on LGBTQ+ rights to divert attention from what Dazed describes as the “violent occupation of Palestine.”

The article states: 

Hosting both online and in-person events across five continents, the [Queer Cinema for Palestine, or QPC,] film festival will also provide a platform for filmmakers who previously pulled their films from the TLVFest lineup, in opposition to its partnership with Israeli institutions and acceptance of state funding. One special programme, in particular, will honour eight Brazilian filmmakers who withdrew their short films in 2020.” [Note: British spelling]

Except for rather unhelpfully telling readers that the event will be held “across five continents,” the article is strikingly scant on details about the specific locations.

However, a visit to the festival website informs us that QCP will host viewings in at least 13 cities, including Seoul, Bilbao, Tunis, Beirut, Belfast, Prishtina, Paris, Montreal, Turin, Sofia and London, Ontario.

And what do all these places have in common?

Not one of them is located in “Palestine.”

Dazed has, unsurprisingly, neglected to mention why events are unlikely to be held in territories the Palestinians claim as part of a future state.

Here are the facts Dazed would, apparently, prefer to ignore.

According to global LGBTQ+ rights organization Human Dignity Trust:

Section 152(2) of the British Mandate Criminal Code Ordinance 1936, which is still in force in Gaza, criminalises carnal knowledge ‘against the order of nature’ with a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment.”

While homosexual relationships are not criminalized in Palestinian Authority-administered areas in the West Bank, Human Dignity Trust notes that there have been numerous allegations of gay people being harassed, abused and detained by PA security officers.

For example, activists in the West Bank from Palestinian LGBTQ+ rights group al-Qaws in 2019 were threatened with arrest by PA police officers, who warned against holding any local activities on the grounds they are against the “values of Palestinian society.”

Notably, Al-Qaws accuses Israel of advertising itself as a gay-friendly vacation spot to “hide the reality that tourist partygoers are dancing atop the ruins of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages.” This, despite the organization maintaining two offices in the Jewish state — one in Haifa and another in the eastern part of Jerusalem.

These places are, incidentally, safely out of reach of the Palestinian Authority’s jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, a scan of news stories pertaining to the issue of LGBTQ+ rights in Palestinian-claimed territories also paints a very perilous picture for those who live “against the order of nature” there.

Israeli publication Haaretz, for example, ran an English-language piece in 2019 titled, Pride and Prejudice: The Hellish Life of Gaza’s LGBTQ Community, that includes the following passages: 

At risk of harassment, torture or worse from Hamas or members of their own families, queer Gazans often hide away in fear.… But everyone is afraid of everyone. Some have been punished, some have been killed. Others killed themselves.…

Life can be even more challenging for lesbians in the Gaza Strip. In Gaza’s conservative society, women are often not allowed to leave their homes unaccompanied, impairing their ability to form same-sex relationships.”

Unfortunately, in its glowing advertisement of QCP, Dazed fails to reference any of these brutal, but undeniably salient, facts about the treatment of Palestinian homosexuals.

The article continues:

According to an announcement posted by Queer Cinema for Palestine, the festival came together in May 2021, amid worldwide protests against the Israeli government’s bombardment of Gaza and ongoing oppression of Palestinians.”

The piece’s author does not bother to mention that the supposed “bombardment” of Gaza consisted of defensive strikes in response to indiscriminate rocket fire aimed at Israeli towns and cities, or that the “oppression of Palestinians” is at the hands of their own political leaders.

Moreover, Dazed appears to have a more general problem with what it has called “the colonialist state Israel” (see here, here and here).

It should also be pointed out that the accusation of “pinkwashing” evokes historical antisemitic libels.

The charge that Israel’s progressive LGBTQ+ stance is part of an overall effort to distract from its policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians ties into the canard that whatever Jews do is bad and/or part of some nefarious ulterior motive.

Furthermore, the criticism serves as a tool whereby publications such as Dazed can carefully skirt around the thorny issue of gay rights in Palestinian territories and in neighboring Arab nations and avoid addressing the stark reality: namely, that no such rights exist in these places and, more often than not, sexual minorities face cruel punishments or even death.

Human Dignity Trust
A map by Human Dignity Trust shows Israel is an LGBTQ-friendly nation surrounded by countries that criminalize same-sex relationships

Yet, this is not the only uneven reportage of such issues that Dazed is guilty of.

A search of its website reveals its journalists have found the time to cover all kinds of stories relating to dating apps, including items such as Tinder’s new feature prioritises LGBTQ+ safety’ and Australians use Grindr to help swing same-sex marriage vote’.

Given these headlines, you would think the publication would make space for the disturbing news that a hacker group linked to Iran had released the personal details of up to a million users of Israeli gay dating site Atraf, including some profiles of those who had revealed their HIV status.

Not so.

That gays are publicly hanged in Iran, which, parenthetically, is believed to have people acting on its behalf who specifically targeted with a view to harming Israel’s LGBTQ+ community, is, for Dazed, clearly not as newsworthy as ‘Queer Cinema for Palestine.’

Let us be clear, then: The real “pinkwashing” is being done by Dazed, which in its effusive celebration of an initiative by pro-Palestinian advocates, who, presumably, for the most part, support boycotting the Middle East’s most liberal country, has completely ignored the diabolical conditions suffered by those living “against the order of nature” under Palestinian rule.

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