- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The crackdown by the Palestinian Authority on gay rights Monday created an awkward moment for its Democratic supporters, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, who responded by blasting Israel.

Following reports that the Palestinian Police Force had banned LGBT activities in the West Bank, the Minnesota Democrat denounced conservatives drawing parallels between the ban and Israel’s support for gay rights, calling such comparisons “deplorable.”

“Pretending that this act somehow balances or mitigates Israel violating the dignity & rights of Palestinians - or undermines case for defending Palestinian rights - is deplorable!” Ms. Omar tweeted.

She and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Michigan Democrat, retweeted a post from alQaws, a Palestinian gay-rights group that had been planning to hold an event later this month, which vowed to fight the ban while condemning “Israel’s colonization and military occupation.”

The group argued that Israel, which hosts one of the world’s largest gay-rights parades annually in Tel Aviv, was in part to blame for the suppression of the Palestinian gay rights.

“Singling out incidents of homophobia in Palestinian society ignores the complexities of Israel’s colonization and military occupation being a contributing factor to Palestinian LGBTQ oppression,” said the alQaws post, “Five Ways to Support Palestinian Queers.”

The group also asked those reporting on the ban to “situate Palestinian LGBTQ oppression within the larger context of Israeli occupation, colonialism, patriarchy and homophobia at large.”

“Israel is a settler-colonial state that offers no rights to Palestinians, queer or otherwise,” said the alQaws post. “Our struggle as queer Palestinians is against Israeli colonialism as much as it is against homophobia and patriarchy in Palestine. Israel uses pinkwashing tactics to lie about ‘saving’ LGBTQ Palestinians from their society.”

Ms. Omar added: “Right wing media asking us about this, can you listen up and amplify it correctly!”

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who is openly gay, tweeted that such crackdowns were “nothing new. LGBT rights are celebrated in Israel but not in the Palestinian territories.”

Palestinian police spokesperson Luay Zreikat told the Jerusalem Post that such LGBT activities are “harmful to the higher values and ideals of Palestinian society.”

In Israel, the Tel Aviv parade draws about 250,000 participants annually, while the municipality has been voted the world’s “Best Gay City” by Gaycities.com and “The Most Gay-Friendly City in the World,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

“Tel Aviv is among the most popular holiday destinations for LGBTQ travellers, with the city home to a plethora of LGBTQ bars, gyms, beaches and hotels, as well the largest Pride parade in the Middle East and Asia,” said Culture Trip’s Lior Kantor in a July 1 article.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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