Tensions were high at the recent “Dyke March” in Chicago, where several Jewish attendees donning gay pride flags overlaid with the Jewish star were asked to leave the event. Reports indicate that other march attendees found the image of this star, which represents political Zionism, to be offensive, while others say it made them feel “unsafe,” prompting organizers to take action.
Billed as an “anti-racist, anti-violent, volunteer-led, grassroots mobilization and celebration of dyke, queer, bisexual, and transgender resilience,” the Dyke March claims to be all-inclusive, so long as attendees aren’t there to create division or push a different agenda. In this case, the presence of LGBTQ Jews proudly supporting the political state known as Israel was deemed inappropriate because of their anti-Palestinian views.
But several of those asked to leave didn’t see things this way. Laurel Grauer, a member of the Jewish LGBTQ organization A Wider Bridge, told the Windy City Times that she’s carried her rainbow-Jewish star flag in the march for decades. This is the first time, she says, that it’s ever been a problem.
“It was a flag from my congregation which celebrates my queer, Jewish identity which I have done for over a decade marching in the Dyke March with the same flag,” Grauer is quoted as saying. “They were telling me to leave because my flag was a trigger to people that they found offensive.”
Another Jewish attendee, Eleanor Shoshany-Anderson, expressed similar frustrations over being asked to leave the Dyke March. She told reporters that she was confused as to why there was a problem with her presence since the Dyke March “is supposed to be intersectional.”
“I don’t know why my identity is excluded from that,” Shoshany-Anderson lamented. “I felt that, as a Jew, I am not welcome here.”
When the altercation became widely publicized, Chicago Dyke March issued an official response via Twitter that aimed to explain the rationale for its ejection of the three Jewish march attendees who were carrying Jewish star-emblazoned gay pride flags.
The response explained that the purpose of the march was “to express support for undocumented, refugee, and immigrant communities under threat of deportation.” By waving around the Jewish star at the event, the three Jewish marchers who were told to leave represented a disruption to the core purpose of the event, its organizers argued. The tweet continues:
We have since learned that at least one of these individuals is a regional director for A Wider Bridge, an organization with connections to the Israeli state and right-wing pro-Israel interest groups. A Wider Bridge has been protested for provocative actions at other LGBTQ events and has been condemned by numerous organizations (//tarabnyc.org/cancelpinkwashing/) for using Israel’s supposed ‘LGBTQ tolerance’ to pinkwash the violent occupation of Palestine.
Chicago Dyke March emphasized that it isn’t anti-Semitic – a common retort to these types of issues – but rather anti-Zionist, seeking to highlight the chasmic difference between the two. The Chicago Dyke March Collective is explicitly opposed to the occupation of Palestinian land by Zionists, the tweet added further, noting that part of its mission is to support “the liberation of Palestine and all oppressed people everywhere.”
When asked about this conflict of ideology, one of the Jewish attendees who was asked to leave expressed that while she considers herself a Zionist who supports the political state of Israel, she also believes “in a two-state solution and an independent Palestine.”
“It’s hard to swallow the idea of inclusion when you are excluding people from that,” she emphasized.