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N.Y. gay center will stop renting to anti- and pro-Israel groups

(JTA) — A gay community center in New York announced it will take a "time out" on groups using the building as a meeting space to organize around Israeli-Palestinian issues.

The executive director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Glennda Testone, made the announcement over the weekend on her blog on the center’s website

The center has faced growing criticism over its recent decision to rent space to a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.

In February, the center came under fire from gay supporters of Israel when a pro-Palestinian group called Siege Busters arranged to rent meeting space. The center revoked the group’s rental, explaining that Siege Busters was “not LGBT-focused” and that the event “began to distract from our core mission.”

The decision also was controversial within the gay community and drew picketing from pro-Palestinian activists.

"The heated rhetoric and passion surrounding this issue is echoing loudly through our corridors — and drowning out other voices within the community," Testone wrote on her blog. "An increasing number of center users, staff members, community partners, and supporters have expressed deep concern about the tone and volume of the debate. They’ve also questioned the center’s perceived role or position in these issues. The fact that the center does not endorse the views of groups meeting in the building has been ignored or flatly dismissed."

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