We, the undersigned, are LGBT people and allies who condemn the stifling of free speech at New York’s LGBT Center due to pressure from wealthy supporters of Israel’s anti-Palestinian policies. A slanderous press release followed by a threatening call-in campaign led to the cancellation of an Israeli Apartheid Week event scheduled for March 5, 2011, and the right of peaceful pro-Palestine activists in the Siegebusters group to meet at the Center.
New York’s LGBT Community Center has a 28-year history of accommodating the needs of oppressed and marginalized groups and allowing controversial opinions to be aired. It is a sanctuary for those seeking a democratic organizing space. The recent press release by Michael Lucas, a wealthy gay porn entrepreneur, threatened a boycott and defunding campaign if the Center didn’t cancel the event, which it tragically agreed to do.
If activists allow this decision to stand, the Center will go from being a liberated space of democracy and free speech to yet another occupied, homogenized venue where wealthy and powerful voices can squelch all the rest.
Lucas’s accusation that the March 5 event and groups organizing to build it are “anti-Semitic” is not simply an odious lie, it is an attempt to manipulate hatred of anti-Semitism to draw attention away from the ongoing Israeli crimes of dispossession, systematic racism, collective punishment and wholesale warfare on a population guilty of nothing other than their own existence. An international campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel has global support, including diverse voices from queer theory icon Judith Butler and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Auschwitz survivor and International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network spokesman Hajo Mayer.
The LGBT Center must return to its mission as a space for the oppressed and marginalized and reverse its decision on the March 5 event and reinstate the right of Siegebusters activists to meet there.
Please email or call the Executive Director of the Center, Glennda Testone at email@example.com or 212-620-7310
In solidarity and struggle,
Siegebusters Working Group,
Existence is Resistance,
Sherry Wolf, author, Sexuality and Socialism; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Cleve Jones, AIDS and LGBT rights activist
Judith Butler, author, Gender Trouble; Professor, University of California-Berkeley
Sarah Schulman, Writer. Distinguished Professor of the Humanities, City University of New York.