Palestinian gays have two choices: hide their sexual preferences and lead double lives in their villages, or flee to Israel and live as normal human beings. Pictured: Tens of thousands of participants take part in the annual Gay Pride parade on June 14, 2019, in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)
Members of the Palestinian LTBGQ community continue to flee to Israel, where, unlike under the Hamas and Palestinian Authority regimes, they are free to lead normal lives.
The gay community in the West, however, has evidently chosen to ignore the plight of their friends living under the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and under Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Remarkably, rather than reaching out to help the Palestinian LTBGQ members, several gay groups in the West, including in the US, continue to spout hate against Israel, the only country in the Middle East where the LTBGQ community feels safe and secure.
As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a 2011 speech to the US Senate:
"Israel has always embraced this path [of liberty] in a Middle East that has long rejected it. In a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted, Israel stands out. It is different."
Groups such as "Queers for Palestine" and "Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism" have long been inciting against Israel, even as Palestinian gays are fleeing persecution and the threat of death under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Both groups, rather than helping gays, noisily advocate financial divestment from Israel, and their members regularly demonstrate at gay pride marches and collaborate with extremist Muslim organizations.
The Western members of the LTBGQ community are eagerly joining forces with the very parties who are persecuting and killing their Palestinian allies -- as long as that advances the anti-Israel agenda of those who hate Israel more than they care about gays.
Hate for Israel has blinded people to the point where they align themselves with their own executioners.
If Israel-haters among the Western gay community took a quick tour of Tel Aviv, they would see for themselves how Palestinian members of the LTBGQ have escaped from the West Bank and Gaza into Israel. The Palestinian gays prefer to sleep on the streets of Israeli cities than stay in their villages and towns, where they face torture, harassment and death.
One gay Palestinian man, Adam, said that when his uncles found out he was gay, they beat him severely and locked him up in the basement of his home in the West Bank. "I miss my mother, but I'm afraid to go see her," he said. Israel has allowed him to stay in Tel Aviv out of fear for his life, he added.
Rami, another gay Palestinian, who crossed from the West Bank into Israel about a year ago, suffers from a fractured skull after seven years of physical abuse by his family, after they discovered his sexual preferences. "I faced physical and psychological torture," recounted Rami, who now lives in Tel Aviv.
Adam and Rami are among scores of Palestinian members of the LTBGQ community who, in the past few decades, have fled their homes to seek shelter in Israel. Yet, their plight is totally ignored not only by human rights organizations, but by people who purport to be advocates of gay rights. This is part of a far more malignant story: when Israel looks good, the international community looks away.
Significantly, the Palestinian organization alQaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society has offices in east Jerusalem and Haifa -- inside Israel. alQaws, it seems, does not dare to open an office in a Palestinian city or village.
Moreover, because of its activities, alQaws and its members have become regular targets for harassment by the Palestinian Authority.
In August this year, the spokesman for the Palestinian Authority police issued a statement banning alQaws's activities in the West Bank and inciting Palestinians to report any person affiliated with alQaws. The statement announced that the Palestinian Authority police would prohibit any event organized or held by alQaws, and claimed that it (alQaws) goes against "traditional Palestinian values." The statement also accused members of the Palestinian LTBGQ community of being "foreign agents" -- a hint that they could be working for Israel or any other supposedly hostile state.
In response, alQaws said that the police statement was unacceptable. "Furthermore, the accusation of alQaws being a 'suspicious entity' working to break up the Palestinian society is unfounded and entirely untrue," alQaws emphasized in a statement. "alQaws condemns the use of persecution, intimidation, and threats of arrest, be it by the police or members of society."
Once again, the supporters in the West of gay rights did not see fit to speak out in defense of their Palestinian friends. The posturers in the West paid no attention to the complaint by alQaws about the threat from the Palestinian police. This silence and hypocrisy simply emboldened the Palestinian Authority: it stepped up its persecution.
A few weeks after the threat, alQaws said:
"... the violence [the police] called for against LGBTQ people in Palestine has continued - unabated, with greater frequency and intensity (we have witnessed an alarming increase in abuse cases and intensified blackmail and threats in the public and digital spheres)..."
alQaws pointed out that some Palestinian groups actually celebrated the police threat against the LTBGQ community, "raising (yet again) disturbing questions about the Palestinian Authority's commitment to human rights."
alQaws revealed that much of the violence and harassment perpetrated since August has been at the hands of police officers.
"Alarmingly, we have witnessed more than a dozen cases of targeting and harassment that have led to numerous arrests -or rather abductions- in recent weeks. We believe there are many more cases that have not reached us.
"Our arrested friends and fellow activists report military-style investigations involving violence, blackmailing, and interrogations marked by coercive, offensive, and insulting questions regarding private lives, their connections to alQaws, and attempts to coerce these individuals to collaborate with the PA in order to arrest and persecute others."
Palestinian gays have two choices: hide their sexual preferences and lead double lives in their villages, or flee to Israel and live as normal human beings. Groups such as Queers for Palestine, though, are too busy bashing Israel on college campuses and the streets of San Francisco to take much notice of the sanctuary to which their gay Palestinian friends have chosen to relocate.
Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.