Palestinian gays rights activist bashes Israel....
And, yet she resides in Israel.....
At the recent 'Gay Olympics' - the World Outgames in Copenhagen, Denmark - Tel Aviv was crowned one of the exclusive gay capitals of the world and proudly celebrated by the Israeli ambassador in Denmark.Yes, it's always the Nakba...the Nakba....I wish she could just go and run her campaigns in the Palestinian territories. And, does she really believe that Jaffa and Haifa should be the centre of Palestinian life???
Five days later, a still unidentified gunman killed two people and wounded a dozen more in a gay drop-in center in that very same Tel Aviv.
The attack was followed by a myriad of articles on the homophobia haunting Israel and a Haaretz poll showing that nearly half of the Israeli population believes homosexuality is a perversion.
For Palestinian gay rights activist, Haneen Maikey, the latter events are an expression of the known reality in Israel.
"It´s really pathetic that the Israeli state has nothing besides gay rights to promote their liberal image," says Maikey. "Ridiculous, and in a sense hilarious, because there are no gay rights in Israel. There are specific court cases that, when won, allowed certain individuals for instance to adopt a child. What is worth noting is that these decisions are case-specific, in the sense that they are made for this specific case, for this specific child and for these two mothers. You cannot build a human rights campaign on court cases that are not ratified."
Maikey, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, is a 31-year-old feminist with a Master's degree in community organizations management and co-founder and director of Al-Qaws ("the rainbow" in Arabic) for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society.
As part of the World Outgames, Maikey participated in a conference bringing together queer activists from all over the Middle East. Activists from various Arab countries exchanged experiences and laid the foundation stones for the future struggle for liberation - one that has to be fought differently in each Arab country.
She deems it obvious that the State of Israel disapproves of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community, and believes it only uses it as a means of laundering the country's tainted image in the Western world.
She asks what other issues Israel is proactively promoting to fuel the process of goodwill: The feminist cause? The health care system? The moral army?
But the main problem, she says, remains that Israel presents itself abroad as a gay refuge, by exploiting tales of terror of oppressed Palestinians, thus increasing Israel's own sense of self-righteousness. In the words of the Israeli ambassador to Denmark:
"Most of us take for granted the equality of sexual minorities and the struggle for their rights. Unfortunately reality is different for the majority of homosexuals in most other places in the region (the Middle East), where gays and lesbians suffer from persecution, violence, and murder."
"I refuse to be a part of your campaign," says Maikey. "Stop speaking in my name and using me for a cause you never supported in the first place. If you want to do me a favour, then stop bombing my friends, end your occupation, and leave me to rebuild my community. I'm aware that my society has a long way to go in terms of human rights and social issues, but it's my responsibility, not yours."
The struggle for gay rights across the Arab world has many similarities: most live in traditional, closed societies and face similar issues with family, expectations, and norms.
But whereas the Lebanese, for instance, have a very defined cultural center in Beirut, and cooperate with the authorities on gay rights, the Palestinians have none, and thus the fundamental basis is that of radical action and grass root politics.
Maikey believes the Palestinian history of the 1948 Nakba, occupation and discrimination has "brought something unique to our experience. More complexity. We are in exile. We have no center. Jaffa can't be the center, nor Haifa.