The Queer Feminist Case for Palestine

feature image by Anadolu / Contributor via Getty Images

Have you noticed the movement in solidarity with Gaza and Palestine is often led by women, queers, and non-binary people? It first caught my attention in 2012 when I lived in Melbourne, Australia, protesting a previous round of deadly Israeli military aggression in the Gaza Strip. Thirteen years later, it was true again on the streets of Berlin, Germany, in the months after October 7, and, in the United States today, it is true again from Oakland to Miami.

It would be easy for women and queer people to protest the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza on the grounds that they are represented among the casualties, which have now soared past 26,000, though most observers estimate the real number to be much higher when accounting for Palestinians who remain under the rubble from Israeli bombings. Statistically, there are queer people among the 62,861 Palestinians injured since October 7, and women are undoubtedly playing a big role in the caretaking responsibilities of the orphans and newly disabled people in Gaza who live under air, sea, and land blockade, with no avenue for escape. Women in Gaza are having c-sections without painkillers, and Palestinian girls are forced to use tent scraps, cut up parts of towels, and old clothes in the absence of period products.

As a feminist, it angers me to witness a nuclear-armed superpower strangle a besieged parcel of land and force its displaced civilian population into a catastrophe of famine. It is infuriating to witness the wholesale destruction of Palestinian universities, graveyards, schools, municipal buildings, and apartment blocks. It feels maddening to follow citizen journalists on social media and feel helpless as they get hounded by drones or eradicated, often alongside their families, by Israeli weaponry that American taxpayers directly fund.

Yet, my outrage at the unjust massacre of Palestinians is not because there are women and queer people among the martyrs. I find it insulting to our collective capacity for solidarity to suggest my investment in the freedom of another people need only be for selfish reasons. Though there are plenty of queer people in Gaza, we organize against Israeli occupation and apartheid not because they exist but rather due to a deeper thread of queer and feminist solidarity that extends beyond identitarian constructs and requires a more sophisticated notion of queerness and feminism than the LGBTIQA acronym and/or womanhood alone can command. Many organizations during the Civil Rights movement understood this notion of solidarity well, including the Black Women’s Liberation Committee, which later turned into the Third World Women’s Alliance to recognize the shared struggles facing all class-oppressed women of color. The Black feminist poet June Jordan wrote poems about resistance in Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Lebanon, Bosnia, and Palestine because she keenly believed in this expansiveness of solidarity.

Queerness and feminism are overlapping politics that demand an internationalist framework of solidarity whenever abuses of power impoverish a people’s capacity for liberation. When I say queer, I mean hostile to the military industrial complex that generates profit by manufacturing weapons designed to kill people. I mean I am opposed to the notion that any nation-state should ever be able to control the electricity grid, clean water supply, and borders of another sovereign territory, let alone a nation-state like Israel that was founded upon the killing of 15,000 Palestinians and the displacement of 750,000 others from their ancestral homes. My queerness involves an estranged and at times antagonistic relationship to normative power and, in this instance, the power dynamics are clear. Israel has played a role in preventing meaningful elections from taking place in Gaza to minimize the possibility of Palestinian statehood, and even the Times of Israel noted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s interest in propping up Hamas. My queerness instructs me to draw parallels between Israeli colonization and the colonization of much of the world by various empires driven by similar ethno-supremacist ideologies, and, more vehemently, it compels me to speak up and show out in defense of Palestinians without fear of professional consequences. The stakes are higher than any lost gigs or income.

As enumerated by the Palestinian Feminist Collective, feminists see daily acts of resistance as paving the path to a different future by disrupting the status quo wherein abuses of power are made possible. Since at least the 1930s, according to the collective, “Palestinians have regularly engaged in strikes, boycotts, and pickets as a grassroots means of resisting Zionist colonial settlement, land annexation, and labor disposability.” These feminists are asking those of us in the West who can influence the present genocide to join them in mutual struggle.

The first and most meaningful act of solidarity we can support is the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement for freedom, justice, and equality. Modeled off the successful campaign to apply economic pressure to end South Africa’s brutal system of apartheid in the 1990s, BDS calls international civil society organizations and people of conscience to boycott a select number of companies that are particularly complicit in Israeli occupation and settlement expansion. As consumers, we make active choices about the brands and companies we want to support. Targeted consumer boycotts are convincing retailers across the world to stop selling products from companies that profit from Israeli colonialism.

Hewlett Packard (HP) helps run the biometric ID system that Israel uses to restrict Palestinian movement. Siemens is complicit in apartheid Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise through its planned construction of the EuroAsia Interconnector, which will link Israel’s electricity grid with Europe’s, allowing illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land to benefit from Israel-EU trade. AXA invests in Israeli banks, which finance the theft of Palestinian land and natural resources. Do not buy insurance policies with AXA, or if you currently have an insurance policy with them, cancel it. Puma sponsors the Israel Football Association, which includes teams in Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Fruits, vegetables and wines from Israel are often wrongly labeled as “Produced in Israel” when they come from stolen Palestinian land. Boycott all produce from Israel in your supermarket and demand they are removed from shelves. Ahava cosmetics has its production site, visitor center, and main store in an illegal Israeli settlement. Sabra hummus is a joint venture between PepsiCo and the Strauss Group, an Israeli food company that provides financial support to the Israeli army.

The divestment arm of BDS urges banks, local councils, churches, pension funds, and universities to withdraw investments from the state of Israel and all companies that sustain Israeli apartheid, and the sanctions element of BDS encourages the banning of business with Israel by ending military trade and free-trade agreements, as well as suspending Israel’s membership in international forums such as UN bodies, Eurovision, the Olympics, and FIFA. The broader objectives of this three-pronged economic campaign are to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Arab lands and dismantle the wall that currently fragments it, to recognize the fundamental rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, therein ending the conditions of apartheid, and to honor the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

The BDS committee also encourages supporters to reject organizations like Standing Together, which normalize the Israeli state and flatten the conflict to inter-group hatred. Moreover, in 2024, a broad coalition of cultural workers in Berlin announced a call to Strike Germany, which encourages international artists, academics, and cultural workers to withhold their labor from German state-funded organizations and institutions because of their complicity in Israel’s genocide of the Palestinians and German censorship of legitimate criticism of Israel. The US campaign for Palestinian rights has prepared an action toolkit for helping to end the genocide, and collectives like Writers Against the War on Gaza (WAWOG) organize in cities across the United States and have released a statement of solidarity that can be signed.

Our collective consumption habits are an issue with crucial implications for queer people and feminists alike. Where we choose to spend money and invest our labor has a major impact on the international apparatus that sustains Israel and enables it to occupy and disenfranchise Palestinians. As people of principle and conscience, it is our responsibility to wholeheartedly join the struggle for the liberation of Palestine and of all people strangled under the boot of empire.

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Bobuq Sayed

Bobuq Sayed is a cultural worker based between Berlin and Miami. They are the author of A Brief History of Australian Terror, a chapbook from Common Room Editions, and NO GOD BUT US, a novel forthcoming from Harper Books in 2026.

Bobuq has written 2 articles for us.


  1. I’m all for a ceasefire, I’m all for a two-state solution but I don’t like seeing queer people lead the protests considering I doubt we will be welcome in a free Palestine. I’m hoping for an end to the violence and for the US to finally walk away from the middle east.

    • Hey Alexandra! I’m curious how this perspective informs your feelings about queer Floridians or Texans protesting for their rights in the US? It feels like a somewhat similar situation, especially if we consider the queer Palestinians protesting the genocide.

    • Hi Alexandra- I wanted to share with you that I was told growing up that Isreal was a magical place where I would be accepted loved and welcomed as a queer jew. When I went there, it was the opposite. It was so awful and uncomfortable. Many of the ministers high up in the Israeli government have said they do not believe gay or queer people deserve rights or protection. Just the same as here in the United States. To me, I think it’s powerful to see queer people leading these protests. There has never been a true Palestinian state, but seeing these queer protest leaders makes me believe that a free Palestine would include everyone.

    • the civilians of Palestine deserve to exist and eat and have shelter and jobs and love and friends and healthcare and education and roads and resources regardless of how their government feels about queer people. there are queer people in palestine, don’t they deserve our support? what good does it do them that israel is more accepting of LGBTQ+ people when they are not allowed to visit Israel? What good does it do them that israel is more accepting of LGBTQ+ people if they are killed by the IDF?

  2. It is outrageous to boycott Standing Together, the only high profile movement in Israel advocating for a ceasefire. A movement of Palestinians and Israelis who have been out protesting in the streets in Israel for an end to the war. If you’re offended by their perception of “normalization” (ie the notion that both Israelis and Palestinians can share the land and enjoy equal rights) then I assume the only outcome you find palatable is one where Israeli Jews leave the region …which unfortunately seems to be the mainstream position in queer activism today.

    • From what I’ve read, it seems that BDS’ major grievance with Standing Together is that Standing Together mostly frames the Israel-Palestine conflict in terms of religious animosity, rather than the numerous and complicated structural socioeconomic and political factors. With that said, I do agree that Standing Together deserves at least a little bit of credit for doing the right thing (advocating for a ceasefire), even if it’s not for the exact ‘right’ reasons.

    • In order for the “queer Palestinians” to live “forever”, we have to help them with getting asylum in Europe. Sadly some who hoped to live a gay life in Israel are not safe there as there have been cases of their families managing to find and kill them.

      And we’d have to eradicate Hamas – they are very much against “queer Palestinians forever”. Just a thought.

  3. Yeah, no. 85% of Palestinians support the events of Oct 7. Hamas broke the ceasefire and murdered and raped and beheaded innocents. I’m done with AS. I refuse to engage with a community that supports terrorism.

    I care about what republicans are doing here, making women 2nd class citizens, erasing trans people, and they will go after gay marriage and pass sodomy laws again. I am concerned about what republicans are doing, taking us back to a time when only straight, white men mattered.

    This current conflict was all Hamas. They need to end it. Release the hostages. They won’t though. Hamas is raping them over and over and over, committing war crimes. Bibi isn’t any better, he’s a wannabe dictator like Trump. BTW, if Trump were POTUS now, he’d look the other way and let Bibi nuke them.

  4. Joining in with the other voices who are done with Autostraddle forever. It’s one thing to platform a range of views but this website has been non-stop hate since October 7th. And imagine being so obtuse that you endorse the call to boycott Standing Together, who actually have the power to change things for the better and improve Palestinians’ lives by pushing for peace. It’s almost like targeting Jews is more important to you than any positive change. I’m so disgusted by the turn this website has taken.

    • as is clear from your comment, this comment section is open to all, and you’re welcome to share an alternate opinion on who deserves to be boycotted, as others have done on this thread, and people can read it and decide for themselves. you’re welcome to read this post and disregard everything it suggests.
      i subscribe to the new york times, they publish things i don’t agree with every day, sometimes things i find absolutely appalling.

      a writer suggesting people stop supporting an activist group in israel because they disagree with the group’s foundational values, despite its positive elements = awful

      you suggesting people stop supporting a publication because you disagree with some of its values, despite its positive elements = completely reasonable

  5. If you really care about queer Palestinians, what is your take on Hamas’ actions prior to October? Where were all those social media warriors then?

    Also BDS is only marginally different from “don’t but from Jews”. The idea to boycott a scientist or a musician merely because they are Israeli is straight up racist.

    Also – Israel was founded on the basis of expulsions? Really? Do you actually know that more than half of Israelis originate from the Middle East and North Africa where there were actually persecuted at the end of the 1940s?

    I am all for calling out a country’s wrongs but seriously, what you are doing is straight up demagogic.

    • Read “Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Jewish Victims” by Ella Shohat, for an accurate history of the (forced) mov’t of Jews from North Africa to Israel and the conditions Sepharim and Mizrahim faced and continue to face in Israel. Israel treats the non-white Jewish people who live there as a source of cheap labor to try and replace Palestinians. Most Jews who moved to Israel from North Africa did not want to do so.

      Israel is founded on the basis of expulsions.

  6. By “normalize the Israeli state,” you mean that Standing Together believes Israel has a right to exist. Put another way: an indigenous rights organization believes that a historically displaced people have the right to continue to live in their ancestral homeland. If we were talking about any group but Jews, the queer left would be up in arms on their behalf.

    At least half of all Jews in Israel are native to the Middle East, and *all* Jews trace their heritage to the Levant. What future do you imagine for them in a world without Israel — which is, after all, the world Hamas wants?

    • Hi Elle- two things I wanted to say in response to your comment:

      1. so I’ve seen a lot of folks in the English speaking world using the word Indigenous to describe either Israelis or Palestinians. To me, when I see indigenous in this context, it seems like the user of the word is trying to make a case for the rights to the land. And what kind of right? If it’s the right to live there, practice ancestral agriculture and religion and build a family free of harassment, I would say anyone, regardless of their ancestors should have that right. If it’s the right to extract and exploit the land, and exclude and oppress people you disagree with, then I would say no one has that right. Israelis and Palestinians aren’t the only people who live on that strip of land on the Mediterranean coast. Bedouins and the Druze have also always lived there, and their ways of life have been disrupted and destroyed, not just by the recent violence, but also by the draconian system of checkpoints separating parts of the land. I’m not sure the English speaking world concept of the word indigenous is helpful to parse what is actually happening, is what I’m saying. Seeing thousand year old olive groves maintained by families that trace their lineage to biblical times destroyed by an internationally funded army doesn’t seem like a victory for anyone “indigenous”. And I would say that framing the state of Isreal as an indigenous rights organisation misses what is actually happening.

      2. In response to the question you ask at the end of your comment – what future do you imagine for Jews without the state of Israel? I am going to answer you as a Jewish person. I’m not sure if you are Jewish too- but I would like a future where Jews are actually safe everywhere. I don’t like the idea of an ethnically exclusive state- Jewish State, Christian State, Islamic State, Hindu State. What about the other people who live there? Should they be displaced if their religion or ethnicity doesn’t match up? Should I have to move across the world, away from everyone I know just because I am Jewish?
      And I am deeply Jewish. I was raised Jewish, I celebrate shabbat weekly, I go to temple every Saturday to hear Torah, I have mezuzahs throughout the house. I cannot tell you how it feels to hear my holy language spoken by soldiers who are murdering, to see holy symbols inscribed on mass graves. My heart breaks- can one ever be able to atone for this heinous crime? Is there even a way forward for Jews after genocide has been committed in our name? After seeing the bodies of slaughtered children? How can we restore the world if it keeps being bulldozed?
      If people are currently being starved?

      A free Palestine would also free me.

      • Genocide has been committed in the name of Jews?
        Are you serious? Israel has experienced a terrorist attack by Hamas and has decided to take steps to stop Hamas from repeating that.
        Criticise the steps if you will but if you’re rewriting history and making up things that makes you a demagogue.

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