(Editor’s note: A small group of protesters from the Cancel Pinkwashing Coalition protested at Creating Change for roughly 15 minutes in which they chastised the Task Force for alleged censorship and advocated for their “Free Palestine” cause. Their remarks prompted a backlash. Here are the remarks of the group’s leader, who identified herself as a Jewish, lesbian, transwoman. – Karen Ocamb).
Hi! We’re the Cancel Pinkwashing Coalition. We’ve been protesting pinkwashing and censorship at the Task Force since 2016 and we’re back again because there is a continued ban on Palestinian content and that has stretched into Jewish and Muslim content at this conference and we won’t stand for that.
As they just said, we’re here in Detroit. Detroit has been the home of some of the most virulent anti-Semites in American history. From Father Tom [sic] McCoughlin to Henry Ford, an avowed Nazi – there has been a history of anti-Semitism that Jews, Muslims and radical accomplices have been struggling against in Detroit and around the country for decades. We at Creating Change and the Cancel Pinkwashing Coalition want there to be a robust programing that reflects the Task Force’s so-called commitment to change, dignity and equality.
By the way – the anti-Muslim ban ad in all of your programs – we want there to be robust Muslim and Jewish programing at this conference. This year there is no Muslim programing at this conference. There is one Jewish session and it’s a caucus. In a town with this history, in a state that elected the first Palestinian woman to the US Congress, there is still a ban on Palestine at Creating Change because the Task Force is afraid that people are going to come here to seek their full liberation and donors might get mad.
The ADL – the anti-Defamation League – has a partnership with Creating Change. They encouraged this ban – this Palestine ban at Creating Change as part of a reaction to protests that took place in 2016.
I’m Jewish. I’m here to say that the ADL does not speak for me and the ADL does not speak for queers. The ADL spied on the reason that many of us are here – Queer Nation. And they spied on ACT UP in the ‘80s. Is that an organization that the Task Force should have a partnership with – one that spied on ACT UP? No. No. No.
We want a conference and a space where radical queer and trans people – radical Jews, radical Muslims, radical Palestinians, radical people from across the globe and around the country – can come together and discuss all parts of our liberation. And right now our content is being censored. Our liberation is being silenced and our voices are being shut down because the Task Force is too cowardly to have a conversation on one of the leading social justice issues of our time – Palestinian freedom.
This is a huge issue in the queer community. Clap if you want a free Palestine. Clap a little bit louder. Come on.
There’s people here at this conference who want a free Palestine. Last year, we protested at this conference. We did a guerrilla session out in the hall because we submitted seven workshops about Palestine and pinkwashing to Creating Change – all of them were rejected. Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said the Task Force does not have an international mission and wants to focus on global issues and yet did a fundraiser with an Israeli dance party that March. International agenda?
That looks like one to me. That looks like a bias to me. That looks like a systemic attempt to silence Palestinian voices and radical Jewish and Muslim voices at this conference. We are not going to have it any more. We have continued to attempt to try to have a dialogue with the conference. We have not been met in good faith. Dozens of Jewish and Muslim activists have given their time and their emotional labor to educate Creating Change and the Task Force and we have been met with stone-cold silence, censorship and bans.
We’re not going to stand for that any more so we’ve gone up here, we’ve taken the podium at the plenary, and we’re telling all of you that we’re going to be here, we’re going to keep coming back, we’re going to keep protesting this conference – we’re going to keep forcing the issue of a free Palestine – part and parcel of queer and trans liberation – until the Task Force lets us have the discussion that we deserve in this place they call an indispensible resource for queer and trans activism and LGBTQ liberation in the United States.
I’m Jewish, I’m a lesbian. I’m a trans woman. And my liberation cannot be had without Palestinian liberation. This conference is not a space for activism and change unless Free Palestine can be discussed in these conference halls. Until that moment, this is not Creating Change – it’s creating chains.
We say Free Palestine and we’re going to keep coming back because this is an intersectional issue – like this chant that so many of you probably already know: From Palestine to Mexico, All the Walls have got to go.…Hopefully, one day – from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.