Palestine upstages Israel at World Pride…again!
July 11, 2012
Over the last few years, the Israeli government has been running a marketing campaign, ‘Brand Israel’, with a particular eye on gay tourism. Although there is a financial incentive in attracting the ‘pink pound’ to Israel, the key element has been to present an alternative image of Israel . At London’s biggest outdoor party for the gay community on Saturday 7 July, this alternative image was described in Tel Aviv’s promotional literature as ‘fun, free, fabulous’.
World Pride, with a march through London and a rally in Trafalgar Square, provided an ideal target audience for an initiative to ‘pinkwash’ Israel. Surely the fun-loving crowd would be receptive to the idea of partying on the beach in Tel Aviv – particularly with two gay Israeli acts on the main stage in Trafalgar Square? But as Harel Skaat, Israel’s 2010 Eurovision entrant, came on stage, a sea of Palestinian flags sprang up in the audience and were waved high above the crowds throughout his performance and through some excruciatingly bad lip-syncing from the next act, 4 Drag Queens from Tel Aviv.
The Palestinian theme continued to snowball. The photo that World Pride host and television presenter, Gok Wan, tweeted from the stage to his 990,000 followers showed Palestinian flags and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign banner waving prominently in the crowd. The photo went on to be retweeted at least 470 times.
And just as the Tel Aviv promoters must have thought it couldn’t get any worse, the veterans of London’s first Pride march, 40 years ago, came onto the stage – carrying a Palestinian flag and with one wearing a Free Palestine t-shirt! The money Israel must have spent on trying to promote a tolerant image of itself was undone in moments by a few simple acts of solidarity with Palestine.
There’s a very clear lesson here for the Israeli government and the Hasbara unit: you can’t spin your way out of criminal activity, and you can’t cover up your occupation by uncovering the muscles of pretty gay men on a sunny beach in Tel Aviv.