The National LGBTQ Task Force announced on Tuesday that it has reversed its decision to cancel a reception hosted by American Jewish and Israeli LGBTQs at its annual conference.
On Tuesday, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that under pressure from anti-Israel critics, the organizers chose to cancel the Friday night reception, citing “concerns from our community.”
Less than two days later, however, National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said in a statement, “Having taken in a range of information and seeing what has happened over the last couple of days, I have decided to reverse our decision to cancel the ‘Beyond the Bridge’ reception.”
“In reversing the decision today, we want to make it quite clear that the Creating Change Conference will always be a safe space for inclusion and dialogue for people with often widely different views,” said Carey. “It was not at all our intention to censor representatives of the Jerusalem Open House or A Wider Bridge at Creating Change and I apologize that our actions left people feeling silenced.”
The reception was sponsored by A Wider Bridge, an organization devoted to building “LGBTQ connections with Israel,” and Sarah Kala-Meir and Tom Canning of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance were scheduled to speak at the gathering.
Dean Spade, an associate professor at the Seattle University School of Law, was one of the critics leading the campaign to coerce the National LGBTQ Task Force into cancelling the function.
Spade and others accused A Wider Bridge of “pinkwashing,” i.e., promoting Israel’s LGBT rights record in an attempt to deflect attention away from its treatment of the Palestinians. Writing on his blog, Spade slammed A Wider Bridge for “linking LGBT people in the U.S. to Israel, the settler colonial nation engaged in apartheid, condemned by the world.”
A Wider Bridge released a statement thanking Carey and the National LGBTQ Task Force for reversing their decision.
“We look forward to bringing our important work, and the work of Jerusalem Open House, to Creating Change in Chicago,” read A Wider Bridge’s statement. “Our goal is to always engage in constructive dialogue that will further our cause, and now we can continue our important work for our worldwide community.”
For his part, Spade expressed disappointment over the Task Force’s decision.
“This indicates that there is a lot of work still to do to build understanding and discernment within the Task Force about how Israel advocacy organizations use pinkwashing,” Spade told the Washington Blade.
“These events are still a victory for those who oppose pinkwashing because they have raised this conversation to national attention and are providing an opportunity for meaningful engagement in queer and trans communities about how purportedly ‘pro-gay’ propaganda works and why opposing racism, occupation, and apartheid is essential to our liberation,” added Spade.