Gay rights, the Israeli military, “pinkwashing” and a photo-gaffe

The above photo was released by the Spokesperson’s office at the Israeli Defence Forces to promote its role in the upcoming gay pride parade in Tel Aviv. The photo has come under flack because one of the men depicted was not actually gay. I will note first that I use the word “gaffe” ironically, click here to see why.

Regular Karnage interlocutor Liam was one of the people giving the photo flack:

Real pinkwashing: IDF caught faking an image of gay soldiers – Liam Getreu.

Advocates for Israel have every right to point to positive elements of the country’s socio-political makeup, regardless of other parts of the equation that are less than flattering. That doesn’t mean it excuses the negative parts though, which is where the main problem develops. It becomes an issue when hasbaraniks come to believe their own propaganda, when they start, in their mind, to dismiss the occupation, the lack of gay marriage, the lack of full civic equality for Palestinian-Israelis and think that it’s okay because gays can serve openly in the military. It’s not okay.

The IDF was downright stupid manufacturing this photo. They could have found an openly gay couple, surely. But instead they went the half-assed route and got sprung. That is pinkwashing — they’re making stuff up to get the good news story. That’s unacceptable and works against people trying very hard to stand up for Israel where it’s needed most.

A long email chain ensued. Below is an edited sample of my responses, Liam may publish his at his own prerogative.

My gut reaction was similar to Liam’s, but having thought about it:

So the photo was staged… does anyone looking at that photo really think that they were walking around Tel Aviv and happened to snap a pic of two male soldiers holding hands?

Clearly it’s a staged photo, which happened at a photoshoot. That is how promotional photos are taken. Generally, the people in promotional photos are not really what they look like — for example, this woman does not really play for Liverpool:

The IDF picture is a promotional photograph. It was attached to a press release from an official military outlet and not a news-reporting service. It is openly a piece of propaganda and does not make any pretences about that. It is not claiming to be an accurate depiction of any real events, it is only supposed to be representative of the IDF.

While you’re getting all indignant about the fact that the soldiers in the photo weren’t actually  gay, there are people who are genuinely angry about the photo because they think that the IDF should not be so outwardly gay-friendly.

So instead of praising the IDF for doing something that is actually quite remarkable and completely unprecedented (an ARMY marketing itself as gay-friendly. An ARMY, that is OFFICIALLY participating in a gay pride parade — that is totally unheard of anywhere else in the world, whatever the motivations), you are castigating them for a minor detail that no one would even know had some journalist not done a little digging and that is really of no consequence to anything.

The sexual preference of the guys in the photo is really immaterial, it has no bearing on whether or not the IDF is gay-friendly. In fact, as one gay blog noted, it may even be better that one of them is not gay:

Israeli Military Celebrates Gay Pride With Cutie-Patootie Photo / Queerty.

Before anyone cries “Foul!”, this is actually better. A gay man and a straight man holding hands couldn’t be a more comforting sign of acceptance, friendship, alliance and unity between gay and straight soldiers. The army isn’t about finding romance. It’s not about gay soldiers hooking up. It’s about fighting for your citizens while standing by your fellow countryman, regardless of his or her sexual orientation. Gay and straight holding hands together in joint cause is the greatest symbol of equality we can think of. We’d love to see a similar gesture from two American soldiers, wouldn’t you?

I got kinda angry after I saw the article below. There is still a fight to fight here, the IDF has not always been as accepting as it is and there are still senior figures in the IDF who do not exactly agree with this stance, as well as people who are pressuring the IDF to stop being so open to gay people. These “pinkwashing” accusations attack the people who are doing the right thing and empower those who would sooner see the IDF regressing to a less tolerant place.

By attacking the photo, you’re playing into the hands of dickheads like this:

Keep gay pride out of IDF – Israel Opinion, Ynetnews.

Less than a year ago, religious cadets were kicked out of officers’ course because they had trouble listening to female singing. The IDF sacrificed them on the altar of political correctness, and this is precisely what it does now with the photo of the two gay soldiers in uniform.

This photo makes no contribution to the original IDF mission; it merely offers blatant flattery in line with the taste of shapers of public opinion.

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