There has never been a case of a Palestinian magically transcending the living legacy of this history to find him or herself granted asylum in Israel. – Gaith Hilal
In attempt to normalize the occupation and paint themselves as the Middle East’s savior from all things dangerously homophobic in the world, Palestinian Christian Talleen Abu Hanna was crowned as “Miss Trans Israel.” Abu Hanna boosted about the luxury of living as a trans woman in Israel, “I got really lucky to live in a country where they bring everything to you on a silver platter.” Appalled? Disgusted? Yes, I most definitely am but not for the homophobic reasons some would assume.
Having witnessed the Israel’s viciousness first hand and it’s incessant effort in their pinkwashing campaign I’m not surprised but I’m mostly eye rolling till next Tuesday over “Miss Trans Israel.” Pinkwashing is another savage attempt from Israel creating false propaganda that they are a gay haven in a LGBT hell of the Middle East.
The story hits home for me two ways, my parents are both Palestinian refugees and most of the closest people in my life are gay Palestinians. Israel claims to be give asylum to queers and provide them with human rights that were denied to them from their country of origin. Ironic considering that Israel is a settler colonial state that has not only striped indigenous Palestinians of their land, property, and wealth but has also deprived them of their basic human rights; including but not limited to equality to a job, education, and even a right to marriage (and I’m talking about straight couples).
For queer Palestinians, being queer and Palestinian are two struggles that become especially intertwined when living under occupation. The Palestinian struggle does not become dismissed nor compared with the queer struggle. Israel is paints itself to be a queer safe paradise for Palestinians, which can even be seen exaggerated through films. It is important to remember that the struggles of LGBT people are not just confined to homophobia, the battle for justice goes beyond that. We cannot discuss the equality of LGBT people and disregard race, class, ethnicity, and age. Israel has projected the false image of being a LGBT friendly as to boost a PR campaign to appear as a free democratic state by pressing a progressive propaganda. The reality is that Israel does not recognize nor care to elevate the lives of LGBT Palestinians.
Not only does Israel have no regard for the indigenous people whose land they occupied; they also exercise racism against their own population by targeting African Jews with inhumane laws. Providing an accepting atmosphere for LGBT community does not dismiss the fact that Israel treats people who don’t fall in their ideals as second class citizens.
Attempting to find acceptance and validation from a violent state that has killed millions that look just like you pre and post transition does not make you a winner, it makes you a tool in validating their savage regime. There is an LGBTQ community in the Middle East that is vast with many loving allies. The Arab trans community may not have a glamorized mainstream competition but at least their competition has never attempted to kill them based on their ethnicity.
Originally published on Scoop Empire June 1, 2016