An ad placed in the New York Times on Monday praising Israel's strong record of gay rights in the Middle East has sparked an online debate with critics of the ad calling the Jewish state's treatment of Palestinians into question.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Executive Director of This World: The Values Network, and Israeli advocacy group Stand With Us took out a full page advertisement in The New York Times Monday to praise Israel as a nation that respects the rights of gay citizens.
The ad features quotes by Rennick Remley, who describes himself in the ad as "a gay American" who supports Israel. Though he is not Jewish, Rennick calls Israel the only place in the Middle East where he feels safe. He writes, "Israel is the only country where I can live without fear. I am free to adopt children, serve openly in the military, advocate for my community's rights and be accepted as a human being." He continues, "If I lived in Gaza or Israel's neighboring states, I would be thrown in jail, mutilated or killed."
"Israel is the only country in the only Middle Eastern country that is a bastion of liberty and human rights," said Rabbi Shmuley. "It is a safe haven that respects the rights and humanity of every citizen. A place where the gay community need not fear persecution."
The ad closes with, "In Israel, I am Free,"
Haaretz , Israel's oldest newspaper points out that the pro-gay ad taken out has drawn criticism on Rabbi Boteach's Facebook page, where detractors accused him of "pinkwashing" Israel's gay rights record in light of the country's treatment of Palestinians within its borders.
"#Pinkwashing israeli apartheid," a commenter wrote on Boteach's Facebook page. "What kind of 'man of god' uses other peoples struggles to promote ethnic cleansing and apartheid?"
"This is called pinkwashing." wrote another Facebook commenter. "Trying to paint over the blood on Israel's hands with pink paint. Using the LGBT community in this way is patronizing and despicable. And by the way Israel, it's not working, I can still seethe blood."
Other commenters on Boteach's Facebook page were quick to defend the language in the New York Times ad.
"What's wrong with the truth? Gays are murdered throughout the Middle East," a commenter wrote. "Israel is the exception. Israel is also the exception when it comes to Democracy in the Middle East, to civil rights in the Middle East."
A right-leaning commenter said "The reality is, how you treat your women and gays is a pretty good indication of what sort of government/society a country has. Saying it is pinkwashing is just another way the genocidal, naive, racist left downplays the reasons this conflict is actually still going on. If the Arabs stopped being epic jerks the war would be over tomorrow. I don't see that happening though."
The Israeli city of Tel Aviv, considered by many to be the "Paris of the Middle East" is home to one of the largest Gay Pride celebrations on the globe each year. In August, it was announced that the city would be home to country's first monument dedicated to the homosexual victims of the German Nazi regime.
From our media partner EDGE