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Siege Busters Statement – June 4, 2011
Regarding LGBT Center Exclusion of all Groups Organizing in Support of Palestine
It is with deep disappointment that we, the members of Siege Busters, receive the news that the Executive Committee of the LGBT Community Center has decided to extend the ban of our group to all of those organizing for justice in Palestine. It is clear from the established pattern that this decision reflects capitulation to an exceedingly small number of financially influential donors who have threatened to destroy the Center for renting space to groups who hold an opinion that differs from their own. In response to these threats, the Center has in every instance complied with the demands of this small number of donors by cancelling events, banning groups, and even disallowing an entire category of activism and speech from taking place within the facility.
Of particular concern to Siege Busters with this latest incident of exclusion is the adoption by the Executive Committee of demonizing language. By stating that all groups organizing around the Palestinian liberation struggle were to be banned due to “anti-Semitism in political expression,” the Executive Committee has chosen to promote the characterization of pro-Palestinian activism as hateful and racist. This despite the fact that a large number of the activists banned from the Center are themselves Jewish, and not a single incident of anti-Semitic language or action has been cited by the Executive Committee when this characterization has been challenged.
In all honesty, we are not surprised by hateful rhetoric and demonizing language emanating from those who oppose Palestinian self-determination, human rights, and dignity. Our disappointment is focused on the failure of the Center’s Executive Committee to appreciate the commonality between queer struggles worldwide and the Palestinian struggle in the United States and Israel. Both of our communities have been portrayed as a menacing presence and suffer the injustice of denied equality. We have both endured violence by those who perceive themselves as superior and us inferior. We have both witnessed the devastating effect upon our communities when the bigotries hurled at us are internalized; and for these reasons among others, we stand shoulder to shoulder – sisters and brothers in a common struggle.
While the occupation of Palestine is often portrayed as a purely divisive issue, the truth of the matter is that there are few causes as unifying as the liberation of Palestine. In upcoming weeks, we will be outside of the Center protesting this latest decision and any passerby will be able to witness this unity: Arabs and Jews, Muslims and Christians, black and brown, white and Asian, queer and straight – all hand in hand.
It is our position that harm has been done to the Center through the exclusion of this spirit of universal human justice and solidarity, and we demand that the Center immediately end this ban and return to its 28-year policy of being a haven for the marginalized and oppressed, open to all who respect the rights of LGBT people.