NYC LGBT Center Lifts Ban on Events and Groups Dealing with Israeli/Palestinian Conflict
Earlier this week, a decision by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in NYC to bar author Sarah Schulman from doing a reading there based around a book dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict came under scrutiny. The Center has now lifted its ban and changed its rules.
They released a statement:
In 2011 the Center was thrust into a controversy involving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict about which we took no position, but were forced to expend significant resources to address. This controversy placed substantial strains on management resources and front line staff, and created an environment that interfered with our ability to assist those in our community who needed our services. In response, we imposed a moratorium on renting space to groups that organize on all sides of this conflict, which, while itself controversial, allowed things to cool down and gave us time to rethink the Center's space use policies.
Our resulting Space Use Guidelines, Terms and Conditions will govern the use of our space going forward, and, accordingly, the moratorium is no longer in effect. The Center does not endorse the views of any groups to which it rents space. We adamantly believe in and defend free speech and the open exchange of ideas, but we deplore the rhetoric of hate and bigotry.
NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, NYS Assembly member Deborah Glick, NYS Senator Brad Hoylman, and NYC Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer released a joint statement regarding the new guidelines:
We support the new Space Use guidelines, terms and conditions being implemented by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center..
...That said, we want to make abundantly clear that we categorically reject attempts by any organization to use the Center to delegitimize Israel and promote an anti-Israel agenda. We adamantly oppose any and all efforts to inappropriately inject the Center into politics that are not the core of their important mission.
...We vehemently oppose the absurd accusations by some groups that Israel is engaged in so-called “pinkwashing”. We find this charge offensive and fundamentally detrimental to the global cause of LGBT equality. These accusations should be understood as just one part of the arsenal of those who seek to completely discredit the state of Israel altogether. In fact, Israel’s highly laudable record in advancing LGBT rights deserves praise, not scorn. Given the very poor record of much of the world on LGBT issues, we should be celebrating Israel's – or any country's – LGBT equality advances. We must always encourage countries with strong records of achievement for our community to be rightly and publicly proud so they may set an example for others. We continue to believe that the boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) movement against Israel is wrongheaded, destructive, and an obstacle to our collective hope for a peaceful two-state solution.