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UMass Amherst online library features ‘Queer & Trans Researching Palestine’ resources

Highlights article from The Nation which claims Israel is the real LGBTQ villain

A late 2022 headline from the Associated Press reads “Across vast Muslim world, LGBTQ people remain marginalized.”

The Guardian reports that in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, and Yemen, sodomy is a capital offense … while in Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Somalia, and Syria the act will land you in jail.

And in the Gaza Strip and West Bank — “Palestine” for all intents and purposes — Reason notes LGBTQ individuals “face an extraordinary level of persecution, persecution that may result in a years-long prison sentence or even death.”

But you don’t see much of this subject matter at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Researching Palestine “Queer & Trans” online library resource.

The library’s “Highlighted Resource” is a “Queering the Map” which, as noted by The Nation, shows that “stories of queer Palestinians can live on forever, asserting to the world that they do, in fact, exist.”

The magazine’s Sarah O’Neal attempts to make Israel the real anti-LGBTQ villain, writing

Israel’s far-right government, despite aligning itself with homophobic powers around the globe, insists that the Israeli state is a haven for LGBTQ people—in contrast with Palestine, where, it is implied, no queer person could last even a day. This “pinkwashing” is part of Israeli propaganda that erases the existence of queer Palestinians.

(“Pinkwashing” allegedly is a term coined by pro-Palestinian activists to “describe how the Israeli state and its supporters use the language of gay and trans rights to direct international attention away from the oppression of Palestinians.”)

O’Neal goes on to quote cop-hating, terrorist-sympathizing Northwestern U. professor Steven Thrasher, who said Israel has a “faux-moral superiority” regarding the LGBTQ community, and that the Israeli and U.S. “governments and religious zealots […] enact lethal homophobia and transphobia.”

The UMass Amherst Researching Palestine section also includes Swarthmore College professor Sa’ed Atshan’s book “Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique,” which claims LGBTQ Palestinians are not only “fight[ing] patriarchy and imperialism,” but “an ’empire of critique’ from Israeli and Palestinian institutions, Western academics, journalists and filmmakers, and even fellow activists.”

MORE: Professor quits because school won’t let her train students to be anti-Israel activists

There is also Steven Thrasher colleague Sarah Schulman’s (pictured) “Israel/Palestine and the Queer International,” which rips the “contradiction” of Israel’s tolerance of LGBTQ folks and oppression of Palestinians.

With regards to LGBTQ rights in Palestinian-governed regions, the book description merely notes that Schulman, the co-founder of the Lesbian Avengers, “talk[ed] with straight Palestinian activists about their position in relation to homosexuality and gay rights in Palestine and internationally.”

Lastly, UCLA’s Saree Makdisi book “Tolerance Is a Wasteland: Palestine and the Culture of Denial,” is due out this August. In it, Makdisi claims “despite well-documented evidence of racism and human rights abuse,” Europe and the United States continue to “embrace” Israel’s “tolerance, plurality, inclusivity, and democracy.” But this, the colonial and postcolonial theory-researching professor says, is “a very specific form of denial” … and worse, a “denial [that] is itself denied.”

In addition to the three books, the online library features articles such as “Beyond Propaganda: Pinkwashing as Colonial Violence” and “Eight questions Palestinian queers are tired of hearing” — which claims that homophobia is not how gay Palestinians “contextualize their struggle” (it’s specific to “the global north”).

There’s also several essays including “However and Whomever We Choose’: Love in Occupied Palestine,” “The Im/possibility of Being a Queer Palestinian in America,” and “Tracing my queer consciousness from Palestine to the US, and back again.”

MORE: The insidious link between oppression studies and antisemitism has finally been fully exposed

IMAGES: John Oregon Deplorican/X; Northwestern U.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.