Kate Raphael Bender is a Jewish writer, photographer, and antiwar activist based in San Francisco. An open lesbian, she has been affiliated with a variety of anti-Israel groups, including: Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism, Women In Black, and the International Women’s Peace Service. At the end of a February 2002 gay anti-war protest in San Francisco, Bender, who opposed America’s then-imminent invasion of Iraq, brought the proceedings to a close with the words, “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re not going to war.”
In January 2004 Bender was placed in an Israeli jail for her participation in a protest sponsored by the International Solidarity Movement, an organization that has supported suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.
On December 14, 2004 Bender was arrested again, this time for her participation in a demonstration (in the town of Bil’in) against Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank. Though the barrier had been erected to stem the flow of Palestinian suicide bombers into Israeli civilian centers, Bender maintained that the structure was merely part of Israel’s larger “apparatus of apartheid,” and that it was in fact designed to consign the Palestinian people to a virtual prison environment. Bender was held in custody until her Israeli visa expired on January 15, 2005. The following day a judge ordered her to be deported, and she was physically removed from the country on January 20.
Calling for the dissolution of modern Israel, Bender advocates the Jewish state’s replacement by a single, unified country consisting of what are presently Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. “I would like to see a multiethnic, multicultural country,” she says. “One country of people who are agreeing to all live together.”