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Gay Porn, Pinkwashing and Tel Aviv Pride

Next Friday Tel Aviv will celebrate Gay Pride with a weekend full of parties, parades and events of all kinds. While this event is pretty unique in the Middle East, self-styled “progressives” decry Gay rights in Israel as “Pinkwashing” – the attempt to deflect attention from the “occupation” through the cynical misappropriation of the Gay rights movement. According to the detractors, it’s almost as if the only reason Gays in Israel have any rights is so to provide the Israeli Hasbarah machine with fodder. I can see how people might think that. I mean it’s really odd to see some pro-Israel advocates go on about awesome Gay rights in Israel while in every other respect their political orientation is more in line with the right wing of the Republican Party or the Tea Party. They’re the ones that oppose abortion, oppose Gay marriage and all manifestations of Liberalism in the United States.

Those who live, breathe and sleep to criticize Israel don’t need logic or sense in order to make their assertions. Israel’s high tech start-up prowess? Just a ploy to deflect attention from the occupation. Israelis’ love of hummus and falafel? That’s just Zionism’s cultural appropriation of indigenous Palestinian folklore and cuisine – part of Israel’s campaign of Genocide against the Palestinian people that has resulted in uh… a five fold increase in the population of Palestinians under Israeli control since the creation of the State of Israel in 1947. Israelis might be good at tech but they totally suck at Genocide apparently.

Pride Flags along Frishman Beach in Tel Aviv

However, I digress. Pinkwashing. Yes. Just because it’s used as Hasbarah, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Israel is indeed a Gay mecca, if you will. A tech powerhouse. Assailed on all sides by opponents – some of whom may be motivated less by the milk of human compassion and more by less honorable motivations. I mean how else does one explain movements like BDS that posit Israel as the singular greatest violator of human rights in a world where hundreds of thousands are oppressed, occupied and murdered, from Lhasa to Bangui, from Damascus to Pyongyang. Some people just hate the Jews, and that’s all there is to it.

Michael Lucas of Lucas Entertainment

Michael Lucas of Lucas Entertainment

Yesterday, I spent a lovely afternoon at Gordon Beach in Tel Aviv. Pride doesn’t get rolling until Friday but already the rainbow flags were fluttering and the beaches were full of buff men, both local and from around the world. To a certain extent, many of the gay men visiting from overseas were first drawn to Israel thanks to the work of one Michael Lucas – a Russian American Jew who runs a gay porn juggernaut called Lucas Entertainment. Lucas is unabashedly pro-Israel (and anti-Putin). One of his company’s best selling videos is 2009’s Men in Israel, apparently the first ever gay porno with an all-Israeli cast. The film, according to a recent Vice Magazine profile of Lucas (I haven’t seen it) is a “… two-hour porno … loaded with long, loving shots of muscular Jewish men fucking, sucking, and rimming on riverbanks and beaches—if not for all the hardcore gay sex, it could have been made by the Israel Ministry of Tourism.”

Many criticize Lucas for his support of Israel. Sarah Schulman, a lesbian writer, activist and professor at uh… the College of Staten Island, wrote a New York Times Op Ed accusing Lucas of pinkwashing. You already know what I think of that. And besides, Lucas’s experiences are relevant. As Vice noted:

When his parents sent him to a Young Pioneer camp, the Soviet Union’s equivalent of the Boy Scouts, Treivas refused to wear a red tie or wake up at 8 AM to salute the red flag. He told the camp leaders, “I don’t want to go.” They called Treivas a “fucking little Jewish brat,” and an hour later he climbed the camp wall and escaped. He took the train to his family’s country house; his father was infuriated when he saw him, and only the intervention of Treivas’s grandmother stopped his father from punishing him.

It was also noted that Lucas

…clearly sees the world in terms of good and evil, famous and irrelevant, capitalist and communist, Zionist and anti-Semite… “I experienced a great deal of anti-Semitism when I was growing up in Russia. Part of my family was killed in the Holocaust,” Lucas told me. “That’s why I understand the need for Jews to have their own state where they can defend themselves and never be exterminated again. My great-grandfather was a rabbi and was killed in his own synagogue by Nazis. I never believed in God. I have nothing to do with Judaism. I believe in the state of Israel and the history of my people, which was very tragic. The contributions Jews have made to the world are great, and all the Jews were getting back was discrimination and extermination… In 2000, not long after Lucas started his own company, the porn actor moved his grandparents to New York, and he immediately took them to the giant menorah in Central Park… “He was just amazed when he got here that a Jewish symbol could be put in a public place and nobody vandalized it,”

So yeah. Maybe not everyone that supports BDS and throws around terms like “pinkwashing” and “apartheid” in relation to Israel is self-loathing or an anti-Semite. But enough are that it’s an issue that ought to be acknowledged. And yes, perhaps some people use Israel’s gay positive atmosphere to score ideological points. But clearly, others support Israel because they rightly fear anti-Jew hatred, and that’s not something you can simply ignore. For those of you visiting Israel during Pride, please enjoy your stay. And for those of you who have nothing better to do with your time than to twist around everything Israel does as something negative and nefariously motivated, well… fuck you. Have a nice day.

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Founder of Jewlicious? Publisher? Man I hate titles. I coined the name Jewlicious and I slave over the site. I live in Jerusalem and I need to get some breakfast.
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6 Comments

  1. themiddle

    6/10/2014 at 3:33 pm

    I’m a little embarrassed that you’re actually addressing “pinkwashing” as if it’s a serious claim.

    Pinkwashing, if such a thing exists, is the cover-up of the heinous crimes committed against queers in many segments of the Arab and Muslim world by deflecting attention towards Israel. Those who do it are the lowest of the low. True scum.

    • ck

      6/10/2014 at 5:25 pm

      Heh. I miss you TM dude.

  2. Joe

    6/27/2014 at 5:14 pm

    I’m confused. I thought all you jews sucked cock already?

    • themiddle

      6/28/2014 at 6:53 am

      It’s been a while since we’ve had someone with an 11 year-old’s sense of humor visit us. Come by again some time soon.

  3. JW

    7/27/2014 at 5:51 pm

    Does God watch over Israel or is it really up to the Iron Dome, the IDF, and a bunch of (mostly) phony politicians? Does the world’s hatred of us make any rational sense? And has our survival been due to our great numbers and strength? But if we rely on God, then are there things we can do as a people, which would force God to partially remove His protection? Is it just a coincidence that the teenagers’ kidnapping and murder occurred just after this highly-touted festival, after all this has been going on for decades and in many other cities. Have you read the blogs of what went on during that time, I wouldn’t recommend it. Should we then go around stoning people? But maybe we shouldn’t go about celebrating it either. Why were the Sodomites blinded, was it just about finding a door or is there something more to that?

    But we live in a post-modern world, so nobody really believes that stuff. So then what is sin? And repentance what is that? Studying Talmud, listening to some rabbi who would rescue his library before he would rescue you? What if we just called out to God and said we have made a mess of things, we abandoned You or just followed a bunch of charlatans, thinking ourselves righteous? Would He hear us? Would He answer us to stop this madness? But then are we willing to humble ourselves? Not talking about me of course, wait I think I might have just touched a door.

  4. Gnarlodious

    12/1/2014 at 1:12 am

    Evidently Lucas has more than just guts.

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