Heavy-Handed NYC Mural Exalts Israel’s Gay-Friendliness, Slams Middle East

Let the Great Israeli Pinkwashing Debate rage on: The Alumni Community of Birthright Israel is erecting a giant mural next week in the West Village, heralding the Promised Land’s progressiveness on LGBT rights as compared to the intolerance of the rest of the Middle East.

The release describes the project more:

“A massive outdoor mural in Manhattan’s West Village depicts two men holding hands while looking at scales that weigh the gay rights enjoyed in Israel versus the homosexual persecution in other Middle Eastern countries, including the Palestinian territories and Iran. bove the artwork is the question, “Who would you want at your wedding?”…

The mural shows on one scale facts about Israel’s neighbors: “In Iran homosexuality is a crime punishable by death. There is no Pride Parade in Egypt, Jordan or Gaza. Homosexuality is illegal in Syria.”

On the other scale are facts about Israel: “Same sex couples can legally adopt children. Gay people serve openly in the military and government. More than 10,000 people celebrated at Tel Aviv’s Pride Parade in 2011.”

Um, ham-handed much?

Birthright Israel has brought thousands of young American Jews to Israel, free-of-charge, to reconnect with their spiritual and cultural roots. Critics argue the mural is just another example of Israel’s current campaign to obscure Israel’s treatment of Palestinians by touting its pro-gay record.

Alumni Community of Birthright Israel director Rebecca Sugar disagrees, saying she hopes “everyone who believes in decency and freedom, including those in the gay community, will look at this mural and know that Israeli society best reflects the values that we cherish here in New York.”

Artist Chris St. John will complete the mural, located at 111 Leroy Street between Greenwich and Hudson Streets, in time for Israel Independence Day on May 14. Organizers say it will remain “until defaced.”

Wow, they’re practically begging people to vandalize it. Maybe Banksy could do something brilliant with this one.