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The New Arab

Israeli 'gay pride plane' idea crashes into LGBT disapproval

Tel Aviv's pride event 2015 [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 June, 2016

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Activists call for the cancellation of the Tel Aviv Pride after accusing the government of mishandling priorities.

In the run up to Tel Aviv's annual gay pride celebrations taking place on Friday, one bright spark in Israel's Tourism Ministry had a fantastic idea to promote the event: by painting a huge passenger aeroplane with the rainbow colours of the LGBT movement.

With millions of dollars being spent by the Israeli government on promoting itself as an oasis of gay-friendliness in the Middle East, the idea may not have seemed so bad at first.

However, when gay activists highlighted the "absurd" funding gap between the money spent on promoting the Tel Aviv festival and the level of financial support being given to the country's LGBT community, the plan was dropped.

Scrap the plane, cancel the event

This was not the end, however, as activists also called for the cancellation of the entire Tel Aviv Pride parade, saying that the event should be used for protest rather than partying.

Israeli Soldier 'controls' a Palestinian child
Pinkwashing: Israel has spent millions on coverage of its alleged
gay-friendliness, while ignoring its own record against Arabs [AFP]

"We need to march, to be proud of who we are, to march to demand equality and recognition," Chen Arieli, co-chair of Agudah, the Israeli National LGBT Task Force, told CBC News.

"It's not just a big party. It's a place that we can protest."

Areli also expressed disdain at the 11 million shekels ($3.75 million USD) that the Israeli Tourism Ministry had allocated to spend on the event.

"The notion that the Tourism Ministry is going to spend 11 million shekels to bring tourism into Israel, and the gap between… the budget the community itself gets… is absurd," she continued.

The Tourism Ministry dropped plans for the rainbow plane. The Finance Ministry has also met with LGBT community members to find a way to redirect some of those 11 million shekels to gay and lesbian organisations.

According to Agudah, the money allocated for promotional purposes is ten times that of the government's funding of Israeli gay and lesbian groups.

Following the complaints by LGBT activists, the Tourism Ministry decided to pull the plans for the colourful airliner, and have even said they will look at ways to channel the 11 million shekels towards more appropriate causes.

Pinkwashing

Tel Aviv's over-zealous promotion of its pride event has also come under fire from Arab LGBT activists, who have accused the Israeli government of using it as part of their pinkwashing campaign.

Pinkwatching Israel, a gay Arab group dedicated to highlighting the country's campaign of whitewashing Israel's human rights record, have said that "by falsely juxtaposing 'oppressed gay Palestinians' with 'liberated gay Israelis', and by flattening out relations of power and the political realities of occupation and the Apartheid wall, pinkwashers aim to harness the global LGBT movement into supporting Israel at the expense of the Palestinians."

The group also criticised the failed plans to decorate the passenger jet with the LGBT colours with a video entitled Fly with Pride Plane, Skip Racist Interrogation, alluding to the prejudicial profiling of Arabs at Israeli ports of entry. 


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