How Israel “pinkwashes” Breast Cancer Awareness Month to hide its cruelty
Advocates for Palestinian rights, such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, have pointed to the Israeli government's strategy of "pinkwashing," a propagandistic practice that projects solidarity with LGBTQ+ rights while obscuring Israel's occupation, apartheid, and settler-colonial policies that subjugate Palestinians.
Yet there's another type of Israeli pinkwashing, and it has been on full display this past Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
On October 1, the Israel Defense Forces Twitter account published a photo of Marganit Tower at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv bathed in pink light. "For those who are fighting, for those who have passed, and for those who have survived, the IDF HQ is lit up pink this #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth," the tweet declared.
Breast cancer activists in the United States have called out US corporations for cynically displaying pink ribbons and proclaiming their support for breast cancer awareness and research – particularly during the month of October – to bolster their sales or image, also calling the practice "pinkwashing." As an Everyday Health author noted, "[M]any people view [this] as taking advantage of the current political climate, capitalizing on a cause, without actually having to give back."
A 2016 Slate post also reprimanded the US Navy and the Israeli Air Force for painting their fighter jets a "tasteful pink" for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In the US case, the pink latex paint was apparently mixed with dishwashing liquid to facilitate its easy removal once November 1 rolled around. Author Christina Cauterucci wryly noted: "Like breast cancer, fighter jets kill women…they [bring] pink death and pink destruction and pink civilian casualties and pink refugee crises and pink destruction of cultural heritage wherever their noble cancer-aware pilots lead."
The IDF's recent gesture of breast cancer solidarity similarly strikes many as particularly hypocritical, given the discrepancy in breast cancer treatment between Palestinians and Israelis – made all the starker by the Covid-19 pandemic.