I'm so glad to be on this side of history, with you.
I'm so grateful for the way you stood up to defend the victory we had here two weeks ago, when the Seattle LGBT Commission cancelled a tour stop sponsored by the Israeli Consulate and extremist right wing group StandWithUs. (For a reminder of what happened, check out JVP-Seattle leader Wendy Elisheva Somerson's account!)
That victory opened up a whole world of possibility: the night we won we were in an intimidating conference room in City Hall and queer Palestinians—their voices, their lives, their stories—were at the center of the room, speaking truth, refusing to be made invisible or appropriated by government-funded propaganda. And then there you were, in the days after, thanking the commissioners and spreading the word. The many local folks who had thrown their hearts into making this happen—organizing teach-ins, writing letters, showing up at the Commissioners meeting—were heartened that every time we hit refresh, more support from folks like you flooded in—in just a few days 3,500 people added their names to the thank you letter.
I can't tell you how much we all appreciated that support, especially as pro-Occupation advocates swung into gear, lobbying against the decision to the LGBT Commissioners, city council members, the local LGBT business association, and pretty much every policy-maker in Seattle. As their voices grew louder, so did ours. Local activists wrote letters to the editor, met with councilmembers, and in everything we took your signature and the 3,499 others. You came with us to sit down in front of every single city councilmember, you came with us as we delivered the petition to the City Council meeting held about the decision.
In the end, the Commissioners issued a statement apologizing publicly for their decision. We sat in City Hall, a space that last week felt so magical, and heard our elected city councilmembers chastise the commission for the decision and decry the act of turning away this government and rightwing funded-propaganda. The LGBT Commissioners said they would have done it differently now.
We were devastated when we saw them cave to the enormous pressure they were under. And then we remembered you, Supporter. We remembered that ours is a long struggle, and this was a big win. We remembered that the ferocity with which our opposition applied pressure must match the size of this victory. We remembered that even in the city council meeting full of apologies, where business as usual fell back into place, LGBTQ Palestinians, Jews, and our allies spoke our truth. And you were there, sworn into record as standing up for what is right.
Thank you. I'm so glad to do this work with you.
Stefanie Fox, Director of Grassroots Organizing
Jewish Voice for Peace
PS. Check out my op-ed, just published in the Seattle Times!