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Pasternak's Pride hush money

Pasternak's Pride hush money

Here we go again. I’m somewhat ambivalent about writing once more on the topic of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) and those who would ban them from marching in the Pride parade. It is the story that never dies. Yet for those of us who follow it, there are so many layers of absurdity that it’s too tempting to pass up. 
 
Councillor James Pasternak has pitched the idea of offering Pride Toronto a “diversity bonus” if it bans QuAIA from its parades. Why just Pride? I’d be willing to bet that Xtra and other media houses might consider banning these words from the printed page for a small injection of Pasternak’s “diversity” cash. 
 
Are Toronto councillors Pasternak and David Shiner secret members of QuAIA? On its own, QuAIA organizes a smattering of events throughout the year. This includes film screenings and talks (like the Barbara Hammer discussion it recently convened with the help of the Toronto International Film Festival and the Art Gallery of Ontario). The group also marches in the parades that occur during Pride weekend. 
 
But with the help of Pasternak and Shiner, QuAIA is able to punch well above its weight, ensuring the words “Israeli apartheid” remain in the media — and in the minds of curious Torontonians — throughout the year. The councillors have been more successful local champions of the Palestinian fight for justice than most other Toronto human rights activists or politicians working to further their cause (with apologies to those who devote much of their lives to this worthy campaign). 
 
Had these two not resurrected this issue year in and year out, many Torontonians (including countless in the queer community) would have remained ignorant about the sorry state of affairs in the Middle East. I would have no reason to remind Xtra readers that the words “Israeli apartheid” are frequently uttered in Israel itself. In fact, a recent poll by Israel’s Dialog polling group found that a majority of Israeli Jews now believe Israel practises “apartheid” against the Palestinians. 
 
Thanks to the antics of Pasternak and Shiner, Toronto filmmaker Elle Flanders was provided space to depute on behalf of QuAIA at council’s April 23 executive committee meeting, sharing her personal experiences of travelling on segregated roads in the West Bank. “We made a film about these roads that screened at TIFF in 2011,” said Flanders. “Yes, a film about the apartheid roads that thousands of people saw at TIFF. You cannot single out Pride, Councillor Pasternak.” 
 
But that’s just it, isn’t it? This quixotic council crusade is rooted in homophobia — Pride is being singled out because a group of bigots has discovered an in. What else can we conclude when we know that QuAIA has worked hand in hand with other city-funded arts and culture organizations? 
 
Pasternak and other Pride- and QuAIA-haters may argue that Pride is different because it’s a public event. They’re wrong. Pride provides a space in its parade for a handful of QuAIA marchers just as TIFF provides a venue for QuAIA to screen a film — also open to the public. In related empty-headedness, B’nai Brith’s Anita Bromberg joined Pasternak recently to make the bizarre claim that Pride’s core purpose is to be a citywide celebration, not a political demonstration. 
 
Pride is political and it always will be. If it’s now a citywide celebration, that’s wonderful because it means it’s had some impact and the fight for gay rights has made some headway here in Toronto. Well done, gays! It’s even more reason for council to cough up money for an annual event that brings hundreds of thousands of tourist dollars into our city. But Pride will exist with or without city funding, and I suspect it will continue to allow anyone to march in its parades. Folks like Pasternak and his pals at the Consulate General of Israel remind us of the very reason Pride must remain political. Just as they’ve reminded Torontonians time and again of the important fight for Palestinian justice. 
 
Danny Glenwright is Xtra’s assignment editor.

Comments

Protest Muslim Atrocities Against Gays at Pride
BTW...Of course, QuAIA will be allowed again to use Pride as a promotional platform. Whether they are right or wrong, Israel is the only Middle Eastern country whose laws do not criminalize Homosexuality. This is an important issue! Muslim countries oppress Gays to various degrees. Therefore QuAIA should be balanced out by a group in the Pride Parade criticizing Muslim Atrocities Against Gays. Where are the pretentious big mouth Muslim Gays who flaunt their religion at parties? They should be using their big mouths in the Pride Parade to protest the Muslim governments they or their parents had to flee to find freedom in a safe country like Canada. Muslim Gays have to do their part in fighting oppression of LGBT around the world -especially in Muslim countries/regions.
Elle Flanders atoning for the sins of her family?
Geoffrey: "Criticism of Israel by Israelis is SELF-REFLECTION..." You are right...People have the right to criticize their own country's government. Elle Flanders is Jewish. Her Bronfman family Zionist heritage gives Flanders the right to criticize Israeli policies, since her family contributed/funnelled billions of dollars to promote Israeli expansion -illegal settlements- into Palestinian territories. She may be atoning for the sins of her family, who contributed to the robbing of Palestinian lands and the oppression of Palestinians. I applaud her commitment to her ethical dilemma in the face of the onslaught of criticism from conservative Jews and naïve politically correct types for whom Israel can do no wrong. HOWEVER None of this belongs in the Pride Parade in Toronto.
Has Homophobia been conquered ?
Danny Glenwright speaks of QuAIA haters --- no one hates them -- we just wish they would not intrude and spoil this day of celebration of gay rights and pride with a message that has nothing to do with the PRIDE Parade - emphasis on PRIDE --- it is surprising that certain leaders in the gay community condone this intrusion --- has HOMOPHOBIA been conquered in Canada and in PALESTINE that we can now indulge in the personal political agenda of QuAIA - such luxury indeed
Israeli Self-reflection
"Equality is for everyone" writes --- "It's also alarming that there is more tolerance to criticize Israeli policies in Israel than in Canada. Something's not right." ----Criticism of Israel by Israeli's is SELF-REFLECTION --- QuAIA's is hardly --- like, you can criticize your mother but if others do you get mad
TIFF and QuAIA
TIFF's mandate is to show films and controversial ones as well --- so TIFF provides a venue for QuAIA to screen a film - - OK - but PRIDE PARADE has a different mandate --- Pride is to promote gay rights and pride and not to be distracted by a diversity of personal political agendas --- that is why it is called Pride Parade and not "Political Agenda Parade"
Who says Pride has always been political?
I don't remember any groups marching for Tibet, East Timor, Rwanda, Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan with the same obsession that QuAIA marches for Palestine even though Palestinian would persecute QuAIA for marching in Gaza or the West Bank. What irony !
Anti-QuAIA is not Homophobia
What sophistry to even claim anti-QuAIA is homophobia -- the city funds Pride Parade to promote gay pride and rights --- QuAIA distracts us from and waters down this message of gay pride - thus Anti-QuAIA is in fact pro-gay and against anyone from drawing our attention away from gay pride and rights
Oh oh, someone better call QuAIA!
Oh oh, this year's Inside Out Gay Film Festival in Toronto will be showing three gay films involving Israel: Out in the Dark (see http://www.insideout.ca/torontofestival/program/out-in-the-dark ), Little Man (see http://www.insideout.ca/torontofestival/film/little-man ) and Adam (see http://www.insideout.ca/torontofestival/film/adam ). At last year's gay film festival in Vancouver, QuAIA protested against the presence of gay films from Israel. See http://www.xtra.ca/public/Vancouver/Activists_protest_inclusion_of_Israelibacked_films_in_Queer_Film_Festival-12456.aspx Someone better call QuAIA so they can move their stinky feet and start organizing a protest.
Logic wins over emotion
Your column eerily echos my comments of Apr 24th ... ("Efforts to 'stifle' only serve to stimulate")therefore I can only agree with your observations! Thank you!
2015 the time to change pride
Maybe it is time to rethink Pride and after next year which is now an inevitable juggernaut. But after 2014, Pride should descale, cut all funding from any source that makes demands, let the whole thing become smaller and see what happens. It may have a life of its own and happen anyway big and loud. Or it may not. 2014 should signal the end of Pride as we know it. And the city can just fuck off with its game playing over its obnoxiously conditional money. Who wants anything from a city that elects a pigshit like RobDoug Ford as dictator.

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