The campaign to discredit the Gaza Freedom Flotilla by the Israeli government and its staunch defenders appears to have hit a new low: Bloggers discredited a recent video made by an “activist” claiming an LGBT group he led was not allowed to participate in the flotilla to break the blockade of Gaza. What’s more, upon its creation, Israeli government officials and their allies promoted the video.
The hoax is only the latest of what is often called the “pinkwashing” of Israel — using the Jewish State’s general openness to its LGBT community as a public relations bludgeon to demonize Israel’s Arab and Muslim adversaries, where LGBT communities face oppression and discrimination.
“Marc,” the star of the high-production-value clip, said he became interested in broadening his activism beyond LGBT issues by working for the flotilla. He claims that, after he contacted organizers, he was told his participation was not in the “overall interests of the flotilla,” insinuating a homophobic strain among participants. The “activist” said he began to further explore the flotilla, and found photos of participants interacting with officials from the militant Hamas group that runs the blockaded Gaza Strip. Watch it:
The video’s authenticity started to unravel almost immediately. The New York Times’s Lede blog, declaring the video a “hoax,” reported there has been “no evidence of homophobia by the [flotilla organizers], and indeed some of the participants in the new flotilla are gay.”
Bloggers Max Blumenthal, Ali Abunimah, and Benjamin Doherty quickly showed a trail of promotion by employees of top Israeli government offices — including that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and the true identity of the “activist.” His name was not “Marc” at all, but rather Omer Gershon.
Gershon, who no reporter seems to be able to reach, appears to be an Israeli aspiring actor and entrepreneur who was running a night club in Tel Aviv in 2009. Netanyahu’s office gave an Israeli reporter a statement noting that they promote various online content when it “can serve Israel’s campaigns.”
To criticize parties around the world that take anti-LGBT stances is of course perfectly fine, but creating a hoax video to discredit the flotilla activists — for a conjured incident of homophobia — under the banner of an LGBT rights makes a mockery of that struggle.