Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is catching flak from activists who say he will be taking part in “pinkwashing” and violating a boycott when he travels to Israel in June for an LGBTQ-related conference and to lead a trade delegation there. The activists say Israel and pro-Israel organizations engage in pinkwashing by representing the Jewish state as gay-friendly to take attention away from how it treats Palestinians.
Despite vocal efforts by supporters of the movement to boycott Israel, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray joined tens of thousands of people in Tel Aviv's annual Gay Pride Parade on Friday. Murray, 60, is openly gay and has spent the past two weeks in Israel with his spouse, Michael Shiosaki. He also participated in an international conference organized by the local LGBT community and met with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials. In an interview with Haaretz, Murray expressed his objection to the boycott movement, saying it would not lead to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He further rejected claims Israel is "pinkwashing" the oppression of the Palestinians and occupation by touting the rights enjoyed by homosexuals in Israel.
Israel wouldn't be able to "pinkwash" the oppression of Palestinians if the Palastinian Authority and the other Muslim nations that surround Israel treated their gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens at least as well as or better than Israel treats its own sexual minorities. The treatment of LGBT people in the Arab/Muslim world is "barbaric, anti-gay, and backwards"—that's not Israeli spin, that's a fact. If you think "pinkwashing" is wrong—if you think it's actually a thing—then you shouldn't just be calling for a boycott of Israel. You should be calling for better treatment of LGBT people in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and what's left of Syria. If not for the sakes of sexual minorities in those countries, then to deprive Israel of the ability to pinkwash its human rights record.