Guest post: From Lesbian Activism to feminist and lesbian “Archivism”: reflection on a generation by Hannah Safran

Some weeks ago, on the occasion of the LGBT pride parade and the festivities that followed, we celebrated a new anthology published recently in Hebrew. Celebrating the publication of a new book about the LGBT community in Israel is still an important event not only because the publication of a new book is always a celebration but because the library of LGBT and queer books in Hebrew is still very small. When I grew up in the 50s and 60s there was not even a single book to be found in Hebrew. As we all know, the emergence of LGBT literature is not the only aspect of the cultural scene that has changed. As older LGBT people we have, of course, seen a major change in the culture and politics of our societies in the last 40 years.

Israel has been part of this change, whilst at the same time it has had to create its own culture in different languages, thus creating a different trajectory. One of the great changes that I was able to witness first hand was the growing lesbian and gay literature both in Hebrew and Arabic. The main instigators of this change have been two groups of lesbians, one Jewish group named “Klaf” (literally meaning card in Hebrew and also an acronym for Lesbian feminist community) which became active in the late 1980’s, and the other is the queer group of “Aswat” (voices in Arabic) which started to organize in 2003 and which had the vision to publish stories and articles in Arabic and translations from Arabic to English of lesbian stories from the Arab world. Working together, Jewish and Palestinian women inside Israel have been part of my feminist and peace activism since the late 80’s. It is a source of pride that women can offer a different model from the bloodshed and hatred surrounding us. I come from a radical movement, which connects the source of oppression of women and lesbians to the oppression of Palestinians, and thus support their struggle for freedom.

This paper will offer a perspective of activism from an older woman such as myself. Shifting perspectives in a changing world impact our activism. I will argue that the growing interest in archives and the concept of archiving in the LGBT communities is in itself a result of 40 years of activism and a community growing older.

Read the rest of the paper here

Hannah Safran
The Haifa Feminist Institute, Isha L’Isha, Haifa, Israel.

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