Schulman - a professor of humanities at the College of Staten
Island, City University of New York - made the claim in a comment
piece for the New York Times on 23 November.
She said that Israel's recent promotion of itself as a gay - and
lesbian - friendly destination is "a deliberate strategy to conceal
the continuing violations of Palestinians' human rights behind an
image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life."
Since the column was printed, bloggers and gay activists across
the world have responded passionately - both for and against her
Republican gay writer Andrew Sullivan wrote: "Schulman is a
hardcore gay leftist, and...what you see in Schulman's ideology is
actually a distrust of gay advancement if it isn't simultaneously
part of some grander leftist ideological agenda, and subordinate to
it. Hence the gay left's historic opposition to marriage equality
and military service and their reluctance to accept that AIDS has
gone from a plague to a disease in the mid-1990s for the affluent
But it has also been praised as brave writing.
Socio-political blog website Paperbird praised Schulman, stating:
"You should take a look at Schulman's chronicle of how Israel's
campaign to enlist international LGBT support has developed... the
campaign has been explicit and acknowledged by the Israeli
government. It's no secret. It's not, from Netanyahu's perspective,
any shame. They know what they're up to and they're fairly open
about it. We see again the peculiar disconnect between what can be
said in Israel about Israel, and what can be said about Israel in
the US: things that almost every Israeli knows are denied to the
last breath and rendered unmentionable by its American defenders.
It's a weird dynamic."
Meanwhile, writing for The Electronic Intifada, Benjamin Doherty
added: "We can continue the meta-discussion about Israeli
propaganda strategy that Schulman's article has ignited - or the
conversation can further degenerate into base Islamophobia where
Israel can kill Palestinians because they're not secular western
British film-maker and Palestinian rights supporter Pratibha
Parmar said: "What Sarah Schulman has exposed through her
documentation of 'pinkwashing of Israel' is the long-term marketing
campaign of Israel government to brand Israel as a libral,
democratic country when it is anything but that. I agree with her
wholeheartedly when she says that "Pinkwashing is the cynical use
of queer people's hard-won gains by the Israeli government in an
attempt to re-brand themselves as progressive, while continuing to
violate international law and the human rights of Palestinians."
Israeli apartheid is in full force against the Palestinian people
and as LGBT people we must support the Boycott, Divestment and
Sanctions movement just as many of us supported the boycott of
South African food during the apartheid era."
On 29 November, Schulman responded to her critics by defining
and expanding her argument in a piece for website prettyqueer.com.
Introducing it, she wrote: "On Wednesday, November 23, 2011 I
published an op-ed in the NY Times. This 900 word piece attempted
to contextualize Pinkwashing. Here is a more detailed documentary
history of Brand Israel, Israel's campaign to re-brand itself in
the minds of the world, as well as the development of pinkwashing
as a funded, explicit and deliberate marketing project within Brand
Speaking exclusively to DIVA, Schulman added: "These guys have
not yet recognized the palestinian queer movement as an organic
part of the global LGBT community. Read the websites for alQaws,
Aswat and PQBDS. Look at the special issue GLQ on Israel/Palestine
edited by Gil Hochberg. Learn about progressive Israeli groups like
Eisha L'isha and US groups like Jewish Voice for Peace. Stop
speaking for queer Palestinians and start listening."
Read Sarah Schulman's full response