6 May 2009
Israel is so worried about the International community’s willingness to talk to Iran before bombing it that they are launching a new “bomb-before-you-talk” public “relations” campaign.
Gay rights in Iran are at the center of this public “tarnation” campaign. Israel is planning to use Iran’s treatment of its homosexuals to convince the world that Iran deserves to be bombed to smithereens. They are planning to recruit western gay rights activists to do their propaganda for them, according to this report in Ha’aretz.
This is bad news for homosexuals in Iran and for those who care about them.
Ask the women of Afghanistan. Not long ago, they were mobilized for another public relations campaign that wanted to sell the war on Afghanistan to every American household. This is when CNN, Fox, and Oprah discovered Afghani women and were so moved by their plight that they decided to bomb them to free them from their misery. And look at the result! The Afghani government that was produced by years of war has just decided that a husband has the legal right to have sex with his wife every four days. No ifs, buts or headaches are acceptable. In other words, the Afghani constitution legalizes marital rape now. Afghani women, those who survived the bombing, had taken to the streets to protest this new legislation and were pelted with stones for their immodesty. But, hey, stones are better than bombs. So there is progress after all.
You can also ask the gays of Iraq, who have been tortured and assassinated by one militia or another after years of mayhem that brought them a new “democracy.” And while you are at it, talk to the women, those who are starved, raped, sold, and beheaded in the new Iraq.
The lesson from Afghanistan (and Iraq, and Gaza, and wherever the bombs are falling) is that bombing a country does not improve human rights in that country. Bombs do not make progress. In fact, the weakest groups will be the ones to suffer most: the poor, children, women, gays, minorities. They will pay the heaviest price of war and militarization. Even if war does not take place, using gays in Iran as pawn in the war rhetoric will increase their vulnerability to violence and prejudice.
Israel knows this very well. But it doesn’t give a damn about Iranian gays. It’s on the war path.
But for those of us who do give a damn, our work has just got harder. International LGBT groups must distance themselves from the Israeli agenda because it is the kiss of death for Iranian gays. And we all must find ways to continue to advocate for human rights and at the same time expose the cynical manipulation of these rights by politicians and generals.
It is the only way.
I was born and raised in El Bireh in Palestine. I received a BA in English Literature from Birzeit University and a PhD in English and American literature from Boston University. I taught at An Najah National University in Nablus before returning to the US to teach postcolonial literature, cultural studies, and women’s studies at George Mason University. I am the author of The Factory Girl and the Seamstress: Imagining Gender and Class in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction and co-editor of Going Global: The Transnational Reception of Third World Women Writers and Etel Adnan: Critical Essays on the Arab-American Writer and Artist. My essay “Between Complicity and Subversion: Body Politics in the Palestinian National Narrative” won the 2004 Florence Howe Award (given for best article from a feminist perspective). My essays and reviews have appeared in several publications and some have been translated into Arabic and Hebrew.
I am also the author of “Improvisations: Arab Woman Progressive Voice,” a blog about Arab women, Palestine, and cultural politics.