*Update* Lucas Prevails: LGBT Center Cancels IAW Party


NEW YORK—The LGBT Center in New York has cancelled a scheduled March 5 party by Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), according to a statement issued Wednesday afternoon by Michael Lucas, who Tuesday threatened to boycott the Center over the "Party to End Apartheid!" party.

According to the Village Voice, the Center issued the following two-sentence statement: "We have determined that this event is not appropriate to be held at our LGBT Community Center, which is a safe haven for LGBT groups and individuals. Therefore, the meeting at The Center has been cancelled and the host group will no longer meet at The Center."

"We have prevailed," Lucas wrote, in response. "Congratulations to everyone who stood with me in support of Israel. With your help it took only eight hours to accomplish our mission."

Lucas received an email Wednesday morning from Glennda Testone, executive director of New York's LGBT Center, that read, in part, "This event is not appropriate to be held at our LGBT Community Center."

"It is unfortunate that it took the effort of so many of us in order to obtain this decision," Lucas added. "The gay center should know who they permit to use their facilities and should not have allowed this group access to the Center's facilities. It should not have required our intervention.

"I am embarrassed that some people within the gay community would take part in an IAW event and that many would choose to turn a blind eye to it. I find it shameful, dangerous and alarming.  I want to thank everyone who sent emails and made calls of protest to the Center.

"Israel needs all of us, in this difficult time. It is a tiny island of democracy in the jungle of the Middle East. Democracy is important to preserve.

"I stand with Israel for its right to defend itself, never to be exterminated again. Even if the entire world should think differently, I will not change my mind. I will always fight anti-Semitism in the world, however it may try to hide."

The Voice's Thrasher questioned the reversal, however. "... the LGBT Center hosts hundreds of events a year, ranging from A to Z and beyond. Does the Center endorse the viewpoint of every group, forum and discussion that occurs within its walls? Why did the Center find the Israeli Apartheid Week event to be appropriate when it booked the space, but not after Lucas complained?

"'Party to End Apartheid!' was a benefit for the Siege Busters Working Group, whose membership includes Emily Henochowicz, a Cooper Union art student who lost an eye during a peace protest in Israel, and the group Existence is Resistance<" THrasher continued. "Both groups are raising money to send another aid ship to Gaza. The last such unsuccessful effort led to the death of nine people (and to the protest where Henochowicz lost an eye)."

NEW YORK—Gay adult entertainment entrepreneur and Advocate.com columnist, Michael Lucas, is threatening to organize a boycott against New York's LGBT Center for its decision to host a party for an anti-Semitic organization.

Lucas has called on the LGBT Center to cancel a party by Israeli Apartheid week (IAW), scheduled for March 5. He is further demanding that the LGBT Center's leaders publicly apologize, and pledge to ban any and all anti-Semitic groups from using their facilities in the future.

"I'm preparing to organize a boycott that would certainly involve some of the Center's most generous donors," said Lucas. "It was an inexcusable decision on the Center's part to associate itself with a hate group like Israeli Apartheid Week, but there's still time for them to reverse course and begin restoring their reputation."

Lucas said he has already spoken with a number of other furious LGBT Center supporters who plan to withdraw all future donations should the "Smash Israeli Apartheid" party go forward.

According to a statement issued Tuesday by the Lucas camp, “Anti-Israeli groups, like IAW, are using the pretext of support for Palestinians to stoke old anti-Semitic hatreds and perpetuate Jewish stereotypes. They're also growing increasingly and aggressively pro-Islam. Sociologists, like Phyllis Chesler of College of Staten Island say, ‘Anti-Zionism is new anti-Semitism.’ The IAW is attempting to organize a boycott campaign against Israel.”

Jewish and non-Jewish members of the gay community are baffled by the LGBT Center's decision to support a controversial organization that has nothing to do with gay rights, the statement added.

"At first I thought this was a joke," Lucas is quoted as saying. "Israel is the only country in the Middle East that supports gay rights, while its enemies round up, torture, and condemn gay people to death—often by publicly hanging or stoning them to death."  The announcement added that gay people in these societies often flee to Israel for safety and protection.

"If the LGBT Center wants to host a fundraising and awareness party for anti-Semites, they might as well go all the way and host a tea dance for Fred Phelps," said Lucas.

On the LGBT Center website, the following description of the event has been posted. "Siegebusters and Existence is Resistance present this fabulous event! DJ sets, guest performances, and great company, part of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) an annual international series of events held in cities and campuses across the globe. The aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement."

According to Wikipedia, “The aim of the week was officially said to be a contribution ‘to this chorus of international opposition to Israeli apartheid and to bolster support for the boycotts, divestments and sanctions campaign in accordance with the demands outlined in the July 2005 Statement: full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, an end to the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands– including the Golan Heights, the Occupied West Bank with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip—and dismantling the Wall, and the protection of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in U.N. resolution 194.’”

The first Israeli Apartheid week was held in 2005.