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painting our weapons pink

April 24, 2007

The radical queer groups in Israel do some great stuff, but since returning two years ago I don’t get to hear much about their actions. I like the way they bring the layered nature of occupation and Israel’s culture of violence out in such a clear and strong way. A few years ago I received a collection of pamphlets and clever fliers that Kvisa Shchora (Black Laundry: queers against the occupation) had used over the years at pride parades and demonstrations and I remember being very impressed with their wit and nuance.

In honor of Israel’s independence day, celebrated today, an unidentified group of queer activists painted pink a memorial canon in Jerusalem’s Davidka Square and graffitied the words “lesbiot neged k’lei zayin” which means “lesbians against weapons” (literally “lesbians against dicks”). You can read the article about it in Hebrew or in the English translation, courtesy of Mobius at Orthodox Anarchist. Excerpt:

The group, which is defined by activists as “a subversive group of lesbians and queers against militarism and nationalism”, claims that “the State of Israel will not be free as long as it occupies another nation. An occupying State is a State which lives in violence and fear: a State that builds walls, sets boundaries, and turns its neighbours into enemies.”

How do these activists relate their queer identities to their anti-occupation/anti-Zionist politics?

Lesbians fight for freedom, liberation and independence. We know that a militarist and nationalist society is also a racist society, a chauvinist, homophobic, and violent society.

This touches the surface of this complex issue, one that actually taught me a lot about the way I would later define queer politics when I returned to NY. How do we define political queer identity and how do we relate to other systemic oppressions? The excessive masculinity in Israel that promotes and fetishizes Israeli military culture is the same masculinity that oppresses queer people in Israel. In Israel I learned to connect the war in Iraq with the American culture of violence – different but related to that of Israel. I have not always agreed politically with the activities of Black Laundry or other queer groups. I do admire their clever actions and the fierceness with which they carry them out.

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