The Chicago Dyke March, part of the larger Chicago Pride events happening in the city this month, has faced controversy and condemnation as it has banned participants from carrying Jewish Star of David flags at their event.
Local LGBT+ newspaper, Windy City Times, reported that three people were asked to leave the celebration after flying the flags.
The Windy City Times wrote;
However, also asked to leave by Collective members of the Dyke March were three people carrying Jewish Pride flags (rainbow flags with the Star of David in the middle).
According to one of the individuals – A Wider Bridge Midwest Manager Laurel Grauer – she and her friends were approached a number of times at the park because they were holding the flag.
‘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,’ she told Windy City Times.
She added that she lost count of the number of people that who harassed her.
One Dyke March collective member asked by Windy City Times for a response, said the women were told to leave because the flags ‘made people feel unsafe’, that the march was ‘anti-Zionist’ and ‘pro-Palestinian’.
‘They were telling me to leave because my flag was a trigger to people that found it offensive,’ Grauer said. ‘Prior to this I had never been harassed or asked to leave and I had always carried the flag with me.’
The Dyke March is billed as a more inclusive event, one that has a stronger focus on social justice issues that larger Pride events. More than 1,500 people participated in this years march.
The American Jewish Committee condemned the actions and called for others to do so too, to speak up against the decision to eject Jewish LGBT+ people. American Jewish Committee Chicago Director Amy Stoken said, ‘In the heart of our city one of the most blatant incidents of anti-Semetism took place at the Dyke March. Where is the collective outrage over this despicable targeting of Jews?’
Dyke March did release a statement about the matter on their social media, which read;
Yesterday, June 24, Chicago Dyke March was held in the La Villita neighborhood to express support for undocumented, refugee and immigrant communities under threat of deportation. Sadly our celebration of dyke, queer and trans solidarity was partially overshadowed by our decision to ask three individuals carrying Israeli flags superimposed on rainbow flags to leave the rally.
This decision was made after they repeatedly expressed their support for Zionism during conversations with Chicago Dyke March Collective members. We have since learnt that one of these individuals is a regional director for A Wider Bridge, an organisation with connections to the Israeli state and right-wing pro-Islam interest groups.
A Wider Bridge has been protested for provocative actions at other LGBTQ events and has been condemned by numerous organisations for using Israel’s supposed ‘LGBTQ tolerance’ to pinkwash the violent occupation of Palestine.
The Chicago Dyke March Collective is explicitly not anti-Semetic, we are anti-Zionist. The Chicago Dyke March Collective supports the liberation of Palestine and all oppressed people everywhere.
From Palestine to Mexico, border walls have to go!
In January 2016, a Shabbat service being held for Jewish participants of a gay activism conference in Chicago, was protested by hundreds of people.
Protesters entered the conference area chanting ‘Hey hey, ho ho, pinkwashing has to go’, eventually taking over the stage and preventing visitors from being able to speak at the event.
Pinkwashing is the term used to describe the alleged efforts by the Israel government to cover up treatment of Palestinians by celebrating its record on gay rights.
Views on events on social media such as Facebook and Twitter seem to be divided, with some members of the LGBT+ community supporting the Dyke March’s decision to remove members of the Jewish community from the event, whilst others have condemned it as an act of anti-semetism.