January 22, 2015
To the Editor: Why did Gay City News reprint Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s horrendous screed from the Gotham Gazette? (“Why I Am Visiting Israel,” Jan. 22). In which he unqualifiedly sings the praises of occupier Israel without once mentioning the word “Palestinian” — while he’s blithely holidaying there on the tab of the Jewish Community Relations Council? Is apology for apartheid a gay thing? The borough president’s disgraceful pandering to power is good for — who? Is relevant to progressive queers — how? Is worth reprinting — why?
Diaz cites two mid-‘60s quotes concerning Israel’s security from Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, a disingenuous misuse of Dr. King’s legacy. If Dr. King made some pro-Israeli statements in his time, he was not without skepticism of Israeli political and military projects, like the would-be annexation of East Jerusalem. M.L. King was a civil rights activist. It’s a very dubious assumption that he would promote apartheid Israel in the present day if he were alive.
Similarly, Diaz’ Orwellian inversion of the famous Niemöller statement misquotes and distorts it altogether (the statement did not say “First they came for the Jews”). Niemöller’s often-quoted words were a warning about German society’s silence and complicity with rightist takeover and genocide — an admonition clearly not heeded by Diaz.
Where does Ruben Diaz Jr. get off talking about Israel being “the only democracy in the Middle East” while Palestinians are humiliated, bombarded, and imprisoned en masse over decades? While he misappropriates the legend of Dr. King to build bridges, ostensibly, between present-day Israel and Latino communities, I wonder what Simón Bolívar, Che Guevara, or Cesar Chavez might think of Diaz’s “Community Relations”.
Member, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid — NYC
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