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Note: an update appears at the bottom of this piece.
Ok, we’ve all seen this movie before by now. Every queer in Toronto has seen the prequel, the sequel, and everything in between. It gets kinda old at a certain point, but nevertheless, let me make a brief recap:
Every year since 2009, Toronto local activist organization Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) has signaled its intention to march in the Toronto Pride Parade, and every year pro-Israel lobby organizations and their allies have, by one means or another, attempted to have them kicked out (and consistently failed at that).
Indeed, Israel lobby groups and even their handful of queer allies have gone so far as attempting to defund Pride Toronto, over nothing more than one queer group that is critical of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. And this is even after their primary talking point was completely discredited with last year’s report from the city manager on the situation.
This has all culminated with Pride’s recent institution of the so-called Dispute Resolution Process (DRP), which is aimed at resolving potential disputes between different Pride Participants— or even non-participants, apparently. Indeed, it was just on the eve of Pride weekend that we found that Canadian Israel lobby group B’nai Brith failed yet again in its attempts to have QuAIA ejected from the parade, this time through the DRP. (The full detailed result of the arbitration can be found here.)
But it turns out the other side can apparently lodge an unlimited number of complaints. Hence only days after the previous ruling was released, we received a new complaint from an individual I’ve previously never heard of— one Joe Clark. And in a word, Joe’s complaint (which has been posted online here) against QuAIA (and Pride, and the DRP itself, and, well, everybody) is hilarious Not necessarily hilarious in a good way, mind you, but hilarious nonetheless As a QuAIA member, I’ll take a moment to present a few of the highlights below.
Joe spends a lot of effort in his DRP submission whining about the formal process up to this moment, which I won’t bother commenting on due to the fact that I’m not that bored. However, it’s when he turns his guns on Pride that we see Joe’s true disposition come out to play. For example, Joe claims that QuAIA’s argument that all queer groups should be able to participate in the Parade is bunk because, he says, “Pride already bans participants.” Joe claims:
As many of us aware, last June CeCe McDonald and several of her trans friends were walking in Minneapolis when confronted by a group of angry white supremacists, who proceeded to verbally assault CeCe and her friends with racism and transphobia. When CeCe stood her ground against this verbal tirade, they proceeded to physically assault her and her friends. In the aftermath of the resulting melee, Dean Schmitz (who was later discovered to have a swastika tattoo on his chest) wound up dead.
CeCe survived, and the system punished her for that by throwing her in prison, and further, forcing her into solitary confinement, an exceptionally cruel punishment for an exceptionally vulnerable member of society.
Meanwhile in Palestine, hunger strikes have broken out amongst Palestinian political detainees who are held in cruel conditions in Israeli prisons without charge or trial, often for entirely arbitrary reasons. This includes Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak, who Israel recently promised to free after his epic three month fast.
Just as the media remains largely silent about CeCe McDonald and other trans people (particularly trans women of color, sex workers and those living in poverty) who are unjustly forced into abusive conditions in prisons here in North America, the media also remains silent about Palestine’s hunger strike heroes like Mahmoud Sarsak who are standing against arbitrary arrest and torture at the hands of Israeli occupation forces.
At this year’s Pride Toronto Trans March, we commit ourselves to reminding the world of their voices and their stories.
As members of Dykes and Trans People for Palestine, we invite all trans people and allies to join us at the trans rally Friday June 29 at 6 pm at Norman Jewison Park, followed by the trans march at 7:30 pm. Our group will be meeting in the space around 7:15 pm to form a contingent committed to promoting justice and solidarity with those targeted by the prison-industrial complex, and in solidarity in the wider struggle against patriarchy and imperialism, including Israel’s apartheid against the Palestinian people.
As feminists and trans-feminists we stand opposed to all forms of gender violence. As feminists and trans-feminists we stand opposed to all forms of racism and colonialism, and all other oppressions and social injustices.
In the lead up to Pride 2012 and the decision by Toronto-based activist group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to return to this year’s parade, I am re-posting the following article that I put together back in April, 2011, before I started this blog. (This article originally appeared at Bilerico. Here I have updated the links, improved the formatting slightly and made a few edits for clarity regarding the timeline of events.) I’ll be returning to this issue over the next week or so.
On a humanitarian delegation tour of historic Palestine in the summer of 2005 I had the opportunity to visit the remains of Lifta— a Palestinian village on the outskirts of West Jerusalem whose inhabitants were driven out in 1948 by Israel’s proto-military forces. Our delegation was guided by Yacoub Odeh who was born in Lifta and whose family was forced to flee when he was still a young child. Like some 750,000 other Palestinians, Yacoub’s family was not allowed to return to their homes once hostilities ended, despite UN Resolution 194 that demands precisely that.
It was touching to observe Yacoub walking among the ruins of his childhood home; he showed us the house where his family had lived, the mosque where they prayed, the bakery where bread was made, places where he used to play with his friends. At one point he showed us a house in which there remained beautiful ceramic tiles along the floor, still mostly intact, although many had been taken by scavengers. He told us that through the years he had resisted the temptation to take one for himself; still holding on to hope that some day he would be permitted to return to his village he had not allowed himself a keepsake.