Progressive Zionist group calls out QuAIA
TORONTO — Canadian Friends of Peace Now (CFPN) has denounced an anti-Zionist group’s plans to take part in the 2012 Toronto Pride festivities and called on city council to withhold funding to Pride Toronto if groups hostile to Israel are allowed to participate.
Late last week, the progressive, Zionist CFPN issued a statement against Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA), a gay and lesbian activist group that has accused Israel of being an apartheid state and of “pinkwashing” its image by boasting of its treatment of gays and lesbians.
Peace Now said QuAIA practises “cheap anti-Zionism” and should not be allowed in the July 1 Pride Paarade.
The city is scheduled to grant nearly $104,000 to Pride organizers for this year’s events.
“While CFPN has long argued against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, we find [QuAIA’s] fierce attacks on Israel to be highly suspect,” the nonprofit group said in a statement.
“Surely QuAIA must know that Israel is the only state in the Middle East which extends a measure of tolerance to the LGBT community. It would make more sense for the group’s Pride banner to read ‘Queers Against Arab Homophobia.’”
QuAIA did not take part in Toronto’s 2011 Pride week, bowing to pressure from Pride organizers and the gay community to ensure city money flowed to the festival after an acrimonious public debate threatened to see the city cut its funding.
Pride Toronto also instituted a new dispute-resolution mechanism last year as a result of the controversy surrounding QuAIA’s participation in prior parades.
A dispute-resolution committee made up of legal experts and community members has been empowered by Pride Toronto to examine any complaints against parade applicants and decide whether they can officially participate.
As of The CJN’s deadline, QuAIA had not yet applied to be in this year’s parade.
Meanwhile, Toronto City Council was scheduled to vote on Pride funding at its June 6 and 7 meetings.
Last year, the city had considered a motion to withhold funding from Pride until after the festival to make sure that QuAIA would not be allowed to participate. It was unclear whether council would consider a similar motion this year.
In 2011, council ordered city manager Joseph Pennachetti to report on whether QuAIA’s messaging violated Toronto’s anti-discrimination bylaw.
Pennachetti’s report ruled that the term “Israeli apartheid” did not constitute hate messaging under city bylaws, since the term had never been judged to be hate speech by a court or tribunal.
Jewish and pro-Israel groups have so far been reluctant to bring the matter up in court or at the Ontario Human rights Commission.