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A Cancellation

My Congregation, Kol Ami joined together with many GLBT organizations and the City of West Hollywood to co-sponsor a California speaking tour for Russian GLBT activist Nikolai Alekseev.  He was to be here this weekend-March 5-7 and speaking specifically in West Hollywood on Shabbat afternoon-March 5 from 3- 5 pm.  But we have cancelled his California engagement because of his Anti-Semitic remarks.  Alekseev posted anti-Jewish and anti-Israel rhetoric on his Facebook page and in his own blog.  It was brought to our attention by several other groups who were hosting him on the East Coast.

Alekseev was given several opportunities to explain his statements and get clarity. He refused. And while the coalition waited to receive an answer from him he subsequently posted he was cancelling his California trip.  But we had decided earlier and wished to give him time to clarify.

Following is the joint statement that we have released concerning this cancellation.

EQCA and Robin Tyler Productions, Inc. have decided to cancel
sponsorship of the California speaking tour of Russian LGBT Activist
Nikolai Alekseev. Our broad coalition of California organizations
including Congregation Kol-Ami, Jewish Community Relations Council,
Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles, Harvey Milk Foundation, SF
LGBT Community Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Imperial
Court of Canada, USA, and Mexico, Gays Without Borders, San Diego LGBT
Center, Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, Jordan Rustin Coalition, Alice
B. Toklas Democratic Club, City of West Hollywood Lesbian and Gay
Advisory Committee, WEHO, and Get Equal who were supporting this tour
are focused on the common goal of securing civil rights and legal
protections for the LGBT community. They are also withdrawing
sponsorship when made aware that on January 31, 2011, Mr. Alekseev,
who is a noted fighter for LGBT rights in Russia, made anti-Semitic
remarks against Jewish people on his blog.

Offensive remarks against a religious and ethnic group is at direct
odds with the goal of our coalition, and undermines our important
work.  EQCA and Robin Tyler Productions, Inc. asked Mr. Alekseev to
clarify the disparaging remarks that he made, in an attempt to create
open community dialogue.  He declined. We believe that it is
imperative that our speakers share our commitment to dignity for all
human beings.  It is our intention to focus on the important and
timely task at hand: the recognition of full equality, and as such, we
have canceled the March 5 – 7 engagements.