Israel fires a dud with breast cancer fighter plane
Israel have painted a fighter jet pink (Wikimedia Commons)
October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a worldwide annual campaign to spread understanding about this form of the disease. However, it seems that Israel’s attempts to enter into the spirit have not been received quite as well as hoped.
On the 27th October, the Israeli Air Force’s Twitter account shared the following image of an Israeli fighter jet painted pink:
Some commended what was ostensibly a valiant attempt to promote understanding of an illness:
Yet, other commentators asked whether this was not an attempt to cover-up Israel’s human rights abuses through ‘good deeds’ - or literal ‘pinkwashing’:
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) October 27, 2016
Pinkwashing usually refers to attempts by the Israeli state to use the promotion of LGBT+ freedoms to project itself as a supporter of human rights, while continuing to systematically deny the liberty and rights of Palestinians.
But the term is relevant in this case, too. Israel is hardly a promoter of good health for Palestinians: in the Gaza Strip it continues to place restrictions on medical treatment and free movement, even preventing women suffering from breast cancer from accessing treatment. In that context, promoting breast cancer awareness by painting a plane pink might appear a touch hypocritical.
Numerous media outlets have reported on the suffering caused to Gazan cancer patients by the ongoing Israeli blockade. Earlier this year, for instance, a 52-year-old Gazan woman suffering from breast cancer was denied entry to Israel for a medical examination at a hospital in Tel Aviv, despite having the required permit. She is not alone, with over 1,035 Gazans denied permission to leave Gaza to seek medical treatment in 2015 (see also Aljazeera and AL Monitor).
On a more basic level, the symbolism of a war aircraft which is intended to kill being used to promote the saving of lives is somewhat problematic. Added to that, there is the uncomfortable truth that chemicals used in Israeli bombing campaigns in Gaza may be causing ongoing medical problems for its inhabitants, including cancer.
Overall then, not the most successful gesture of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.