Monday, June 22, 2009

Drafted Letter to Xtra Re: Palestinian Solidarity

A recent letter in the Capital Xtra has added its voice to the chorus of those questioning the validity of groups like Queers Against Israeli Apartheid having a space in our pride parades. As Queers, activists and people involved in Palestinian solidarity organizing, we are writing to refute these claims. To those who would say politics have no place in our events, we say this: Politics have been vital to our movement from its very beginnings. From the decriminalization of expressions of our love to the right to marry, we, as a movement, owe our safety, rights and visibility to those committed activists who have taken up the important political causes that have led to our current situations and future victories.

As a movement and as a community, it is clear that we know how to effectively fight for our rights. Our recent victories are a testament to this, but these victories do not exempt us from the responsibility to speak out against injustices, wherever they occur. We have learned how to defend our rights, and we have also learned the value of solidarity. Now it is our turn to extend our solidarity to the Palestinian people fighting for their own self determination, rights and dignity. Surely, we are not so selfish as to blind ourselves from Israel's human rights abuses just because Israeli queers benefit from relative freedoms.

As queers, we must resist being dangled in front of the media to justify the atrocities of the occupation. It is important to remember now more than ever that there is no pride in supporting the Israeliapartheid. We will never be truly free while others are oppressed in our name.

This summer, in pride parades from the east coast to the west coast, queer activists will be marching in celebration of our hard-won rights to be happy, safe and visible. This summer, surrounded by happy queer families, GLBTQ community organizations, our supporters in the labor movement and our allies from every segment of the population, let us remember the pride parade's militant roots. In Ottawa, as the Israeli embassy will hosts one of our many pride week celebrations, let's remember to stand in solidarity with Palestinians, queer and straight, and give ourselves something of which to be proud.