Gay Rights Group Comes Out Against “Israeli Apartheid”


Rafeef Ziadah, a member of the Coalition To Stop Israeli Apartheid, speaks at ‘Coming Out Against Israeli Apartheid’ on May 23. To her right is Tim McCaskell, co-founder of Stop Aids Now and gay rights activist. Photos by Omar Mosleh.

A gay rights activist group says that while Israel may have embraced LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bi Transgender Queer) rights, it cannot be a truly democratic state unless it does the same for Palestinians.

Speakers from different organizations joined last night at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre for ‘Coming Out Against Israeli Apartheid’, a discussion held by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to raise awareness of the perceived Israeli occupation, among both the LGBTQ and Arab/Muslim communities.

Some of the speakers, such as Rafeef Ziadah, a third generation Palestinian and member of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, feel that Israel is an apartheid state because Israeli and Palestinian citizens are treated differently. According to her, residents of the Palestinian territories are not allowed to join the Israeli army, which has additional benefits, and Arab-Israelis have to also frequently cross checkpoints and show their identification.

“There are two sets of rules for two different types of people living in the same area,” Ziadah said. “If that’s not apartheid then I don’t know what is.”

She said that for this reason, Israel is not a democracy.

“Israel wants to be a singular, Jewish state, but also claims to be a democracy,” she said. “It needs to make up its mind, because those two things are contradictory.”

Other speakers, such as May, who did not want to give her full name, agreed with Ziadah. May is a Palestinian who identifies as queer, and she thinks Israel is being hypocritical by granting only certain demographics full human rights.

“If we’re to build a queer movement based on the concept of justice, it shouldn’t be that it’s OK to be queer but it’s not OK to be other things,” she said.

But some audience members spoke out against the discussion, saying the forum was one-sided.

“Why focus on Israel, why not Saudi Arabia or Iran?” asked Daniel F., a third generation Jewish Canadian who chose not to disclose his last name.

“They’re attacking Israel disproportionately; Israel gives homosexuals more human rights than any other surrounding Arab country.”

Daniel also said he thought the attack on Israel was really just a way of “furthering their anti-Semitism through the disguise of human rights.”


El-Farouk Khaki, right, is co-founder of Salaam: Queer Muslim Community, and Pride 2009 Grand Marshall. To his left is May, a member of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. Both agreed that Israel has several steps to take before true equality is achieved.

El-Farouk Khaki, co-founder of Salaam: Queer Muslim Community, countered by saying that many of the activists in attendance have criticised other Middle Eastern countries for their human rights violations in the past.

He said at the last Salaam monthly meeting, the group explored treatment of queers in Iran and Iraq, and looked at ways to help those who are in danger.

“Where were you?” Khaki asked. “You were not there. Instead you come here and try to silence us, by saying, ‘You shouldn’t be talking about this because you’re not talking about the other stuff.’ Well we are, you’re just not listening.”

Rafeef Ziadah said that aim of the presentation was not to point fingers at Israel for being homophobic, but to bring attention to the idea that equality is not given evenly to all citizens of Israel.

She said that although there are homophobia problems in surrounding countries, it is not an excuse to ignore human rights issues in Israel.

“If you fight for justice and equality, you fight for it everyday, everywhere.”



  1. Rupinder J says:

    “Why focus on Israel, why not Saudi Arabia or Iran?” asked Daniel F., a third generation Jewish Canadian who chose not to disclose his last name.

    When you see the unfortunate act of a homosexual being executed in the Middle East, it is not as prevalent as Western media will have u believe. Dictated and formal government policies that discriminate against Palestinians are stated clearly and openly enforced which inherently affect the human rights of Palestinian citizens.

    That is why we should focus on Israel

    • re Rapunjer:

      I read Rapunjer’s comment three times and have no idea how he jumps to his conclusion. I see no logic, no reasoning and no intelligence—only blind accusation. The writer seems to be saying that persecution is all right as long as a government states up front that it’s policy is to oppress its people, while Israel, on the other hand, is to be criticized and attacked in spite of her democratic objectives.

  2. The problem with Arab Queers is that they are not accepted by their own communities and then take their shit out on Israel. They should really be focussing on the Muslim world and its lack of support for the “palestinian cause”, which is should be the issue as everyone knows Israel is a free place to live for queers.

  3. well i’m some how agree with that

  4. re Rafeef Ziadah: who said that Palestinians are not allowed to join the Israeli army, which has additional benefits.

    This is not true. It’s disturbing that she, a former resident of Israel, would publicly lie to the naïve audience she addressed.

    On the contrary, as a former resident she knows that Muslims can volunteer to serve. They are not drafted. Few volunteer. In fact, the Israeli army is more inclusive than any other, being uniquely among the first to include women and uncloseted soldiers in its ranks without regard to sexual orientation.

    Israeli Arabs may join the Israeli Army, and some have distinguished themselves as commanders. It’s pressure from their own people that prevents them. An Israeli Arab who shows an inclination to join the armed forces is discouraged, ostracized, even threatened by his own family and the Arab community he lives in. They consider it treason. It is intolerance like this that makes it nearly impossible for an Arab to join the Israeli army, [though some have done it]. So much for freedom of thought or expression in the Palestinian communities.

    Israel is not perfect. No place is. But it is far better then the example of the societies that surround her in the region.

    People like Rafeef Ziadah and the others who sat with her to hurl one-sided and false accusations against Israel revealed themselves to be liars and hypocrites with a deeper agenda—to destroy Israel altogether.

  5. To clarify a detail with respect to residents of Israel proper and the Territories, Arabs from the Territories can serve. As for benefits following service in the army, the benefits apply to all who serve. A Jewish Israeli who doesn’t serve, doesn’t get benefits either.

    Here is a quote from Wikipedia: “According to the 2004 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the occupied territories, “Israeli Arabs were not required to perform mandatory military service and, in practice, only a small percentage of Israeli Arabs served in the military. Those who did not serve in the army had less access than other citizens to social and economic benefits for which military service was a prerequisite or an advantage, such as housing, new-household subsidies, and employment, especially government or security-related industrial employment. Regarding the latter, for security reasons, Israeli Arabs generally were restricted from working in companies with defense contracts or in security-related fields.”

    In recent years, there have been several initiatives to enable Israeli Arabs to volunteer for civilian National Service instead of to the IDF, completion of which would grant the same privileges as those granted to IDF veterans. However, this plan has gained strong resistance from Arab members of the parliament, and as a result, has not been implemented.”

  6. As I see it, groups like the above make every effort to demonize Israel, with next to none made to calm the situation. The constant threats and pressure perpetuate and exacerbate distrust on both sides.

  7. It’s interesting that Rafeef Zaidah pretends Palestinians face apartheid from the Israeli Armed Forces. I think the lie is revealed in her last comment about this. Does she pretend to want to contribute to peace, or is her motivation driven by selfish personal gain—benefits that she complains are denied to her?

    • Rafeef Zaidah complains that Palestinians frequently have to show ID at checkpoints. The fact is that Palestinian terrorists have put this burden on everyone in Israel. No bag, backpack, shopping bag or valise enters a retail store, bus or train station without inspection, regardless of ethnicity of the carrier. This is the consequence of the bombings that threaten Israeli civilians, Arabs and Jews. For these cautionary restrictions as well as the barrier, the Palestinians have only themselves to blame.

  8. This group’s persistent targeting of Israel while ignoring gross human rights abuses of the states that surround Israel reveals their real agenda.

    The overlooked list of human rights abuses in Muslim and Arab countries is a long one. I wouldn’t try to complete it here, but I’ll begin:

    Homosexuals are hanged in Iran, non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia must drive on separate roads, [true apartheid if there is any], and public beheadings and punitive limb amputations and eye-gaugings are common practice.

    Jews are named and targeted for death in the Koran—and extremists act on this.

    Jews were driven out of Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, and a host of Islamic nations, [ethnic cleansing], with no compensation, indeed, they were lucky to get out alive. Jews in Yemen are murdered for not converting to Islam.

    Muslims who leave Islam will be executed. Iran delights in death by stoning, and look at that government’s attempt to bludgeon its people into submission today, killing and beating demonstrators, arresting and imprisoning intellectuals, journalists and cutting Internet to prevent the flow of information, free speech and thought, while its leadership, not alone, calls for the destruction of Israel.

    The group sweeps such crimes under the carpet; indeed it almost excuses them while attacking Israel.

    This group is not anti-Apartheid, it’s Anti-Semitic.

  9. poohbear says:

    yogi, why dont u base some of those accusations w/ actual evidence? I can come on here and spew all kinds of horseshit i’ve heard about jews, and we all know there are tons of racist perceptions of jews but i’ll be the first to call it exagerrated BS. But you have no such qualms about spewing BS about the ME and Islam. Where are jews targeted for death in the Koran? Give us an exact chapter and verse reference instead of speaking out of your ass please and thank u.

  10. Well, poobear, in the first place, my comments were referring to political practice by Muslim States, not religious institutions, like the extremist madrassas where the vulnerable young are inculcated with hatred, and in which violent societies are nurtured. One only has to look at the gory news footage from BBC or MEMRI to see bloody public flagellations, head cutting, public humiliations, stoning, beheadings, amputations and hangings, however, since you ask, read Koran, 9.30 for one example. Koranic interpretations, should you wish to listen to such vile monstrosities, are exposed via MEMRI. You’re welcome.

  11. poohbear says:

    If u want to discuss theology we can discuss theology:

    9.30 references a Jewish sect in Arabia that refused to accept Islam because they cited a belief in a son of god, now whether that claim can be historically corroborated with the historical records that we have is a different story, but the point is it condemns a belief in a son of god, which is not compatible with Islam. This is no secret, and Muslims make no apologies for this, they simply dont believe god has a son. But it’s one thing to say they disagree and its an entirely different thing to say they want to kill them for that belief (as u said). Here’s a quote from the Quran that is very clear on what Islam says about Jews & Christians:

    [2:62] Verily, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

    GOD is properly translated as GOD not as “Allah” since Arab Christians and Jewish Arabs (when they called themselves that pre 1948 Israel) also use the Arabic word “Allah” for god (“Allah” literally just means “god” in Arabic)

    At any rate, I have a much easier time disproving u because you’re spewing hate with no backing aside from stuff u find on far right sites. U are the extremist here, and since extremists operate on the fringes of rational thought, your nebulous & shallow arguments are pretty easy to disprove. If i argue that Jews have a secret organization that controls the world’s financial markets, i’d have a very hard time proving that, just like you’re arguing that most of the worlds 1.3 billion Muslims are violent (and yet 99% of Muslims are peace loving more concerned about putting food on the table and clothes on the backs of their children than local politics). U see, what’s ironic is that extremists are of the same cloth, regardless of whether they’re arguing for National Socialism or Islamophobia. Their logic is simple, shallow, and devoid of any acknowledgment that certain issues are multi faceted, things are usually black & white to them, and all u need to disprove a black & white arguement is, well, something not black & white (u know, something in the enormous grey area).

    Ultimately you’re not open to new ideas, and u just do a lot of “confirmation bias” reading, wherein u read what drivel u already believe and like to confirm its true, instead of reading about new views on topics. And then u come and post that drivel on sites like this.

    For example, you call a group anti-Semitic because they criticize Israel, yet if a group criticizes Palestinians they’re not anti-Semitic? it shows how Eurocentric and wholly ignorant your views are since Palestinians are also Semitic. Again, if all u read are right wing sites, u’ll be completely ignorant of facts like that, because it’s the same people arguing the same simpleton nonsense.

    Be objective, Israel is the country w/ all the cards in its hands as it’s a regional superpower. It’s not the victim here anymore than a rich man with a tank is a victim against a poor street kid with a rock

  12. poohbear says:

    lol and u’re quoting MEMRI as an objective source??? here’s one criticism of MEMRI that exposes its true nature:

    Brian Whitaker, the Middle East editor for the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom, has been one of the most outspoken critics of MEMRI, writing: “My problem with Memri is that it poses as a research institute when it’s basically a propaganda operation,” to “further the political agenda of Israel.” Whitaker has also complained that “MEMRI’s website does not mention you [Carmon, the founder] or your work for Israeli intelligence. Nor does it mention MEMRI’s co-founder, Meyrav Wurmser, and her extreme brand of Zionism…. Given your political background, it’s legitimate to ask whether MEMRI is a trustworthy vehicle.”

    In response, MEMRI President Yigal Carmon, states: “You are right: we do have an agenda. As an institute of research, we want MEMRI to present translations to people who wish to be informed on the ideas circulating in the Middle East. We aim to reflect reality. If knowledge of this reality should benefit one side or another, then so be it.”

    so, in the words of its founder, its agenda is to benefit Israeli interests when discussing Middle Eastern issues.

  13. A typical Gaza religious sermon:

    Nice document.

    It speaks for itself, and apparently, for you, poobear.

  14. poohbear says:

    typical by your standards. i refute everything u say and then u go off in a completely different route. nice.

  15. The video answers your question.

  16. poohbear says:

    answers all my questions???? ok since we’re not making sense no more, this video answers all your questions:

  17. I think you are an idiot.

  18. poohbear says:

    and i think u’re a tit. goody gum drops, now we can just flame away.


Speak Your Mind