Chicago dyke march kicks out LGBTQ Jews


Elizabeth Butterworth

On 24 June, a group of LGBTQ Jews were asked to leave Chicago’s annual Dyke March. The group, including Laurel Grauer from A Wider Bridge (an NGO that links with LGBTQ organisations in Israel), were approached by a group of activists asking about their intentions in carrying Pride flags with a Star of David imposed on a rainbow.

After a conversation ensued between the organisers and those carrying the flags, they were asked to leave due to their “Zionist” and “pro-Israel” views. In their statement, the organisers have not made clear what these “offensive” views are — they could have been views that were racist, but they could have been views that Israel has a right to exist, or that they have been on holiday to Israel.

The organisers affirm their “anti-Zionist” stance and solidarity with Palestinians, but still haven’t explained what they found objectionable. Those asked to leave have said that they were asked to leave because their flag was a “trigger” to some people. Regardless of what happened next, the fact a group of Jews, identified through the Star of David Pride flags, were approached and grilled on their stance on Palestine is unacceptable and antisemitic. It is not the responsibility of Jews to account for the state of Israel, just as it is not the responsibility of Muslims to account for the House of Saud. The tactics of the organisers also point to a trend of “no-platforming” rather than allowing debate and discussion, particularly prevalent on the American left, which uses the concept of “safe spaces” to shut down anyone who disagrees with the self-imposed ideological purity arbiters.

There is ongoing, serious debate among Jews about LGBTQ issues (LGBTQ Jews face discrimination from their own community and wider society), and about Israel — with Jewish views running the full gamut. It is nothing short of a disgrace that people should be harassed on a Pride march simply for being visibly Jewish.


International Brigade Memorial

Betrayal seems to be in fashion.
I would have thought this event worthy of similar analysis:

Having read the statement...

...I would suggest running another article in the next Solidarity that responds to its content.

How about this answer?

Nadiya Al-Noor
about 2 weeks ago: pictured a gay pride flag with an Islamic crescent

This is my pride flag. It has the Islamic crescent and star on it, like the flags of Turkey, Pakistan, etc.. Should I and my flag be banned from Pride because of the countless horrific murders of LGBT people in Muslim countries, the state-sanctioned hatred and persecution of LGBT people? Because if you ban Jews and Jewish flags because you hate Israel, logically you have to ban me, too. Or you could just admit you're antisemites. What will it be? #DykeMarchChicago

Politics, not symbols

From Jewish Voice for Peace, from the Portside link:

"On Saturday at the Chicago Dyke March, a small number of members and staff of A Wider Bridge challenged the inclusion of Palestinian human rights as an issue supported by Chicago Dyke March. A Wider Bridge has the explicit purpose of "building a movement of pro-Israel LGBTQ people and allies." "Pro-Israel," for a Wider Bridge, has included organizing war rallies cheering on the Israeli military during the massacre of civilians in Gaza in August 2014 and partnering with Israeli consulates in the US in organizing pinkwashing propaganda tours.

The A Wider Bridge contingent loudly encouraged fellow participants to erase mentions of Palestine during solidarity chants. When Palestinian attendees approached them, they became hostile while expressing explicit support for Zionism, which was one of the ideologies that march organizers had disavowed because it has led to decades of displacement and violence against Palestinians. After a two hour conversation with organizers and other members, the attendees were asked to leave for not respecting the community norms, including opposition to all forms of racism and violence. One of the people asked to leave was Laurel Grauer, Midwest Manager from A Wider Bridge (AWB), who held a rainbow flag with a blue Star of David identical in color, size and placement to the one on the Israeli flag.

Many other Jews, including members of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, were present at Dyke March wearing Jewish symbols, including Stars of David, t-shirts with Hebrew, kippot, and sashes with Yiddish script, and none of them were asked to leave the event, interrogated about their politics, or were the target of any complaints because of their visible Jewish presence."

Doesn't sound like antisemitism to me.


They can't be engaged in anti-semitism, after all some of their best friends are Jewish.

You gotta be kidding me

Barry, it's JEWISH Voice for Peace. What they did was obviously NOT antisemitic. You're ending up in very Israel-apologetic territory here, which is very unlike you. Please stop digging.

What the hell is antisemitic about saying "Apologists for Israeli-state violence can't march with us?" Absolutely nothing.

oh, my!

Apologists for Israeli-state violence can't march with us. Indeed. Such a sweeping indictment calls for a rather large body of evidence. So let's review what the expellees stated:

"When Anderson first arrived at the starting point for the march with her flag, a person in an organizer’s t-shirt questioned her, saying, “We don’t allow imperialist flags. Is that an Israeli flag?”
Anderson said, “I was taken aback for sure, but I said, ‘No, this is a Jewish pride flag. This is the Star of David.’ She [the organizer] said ‘okay’ and walked away. That certainly gave me some pause but I marched — and the march itself was without incident.”
After the march, in the gathering area for the rally and community picnic at Piotrowski Park, Anderson walked over to Laurie Grauer, another marcher with a Jewish pride flag with whom she attended the march.
Then they were “accosted” by two people, one carrying a Palestinian flag and the other wearing clothes with Palestinian flag patches, according to Anderson, yelling “How dare you carry an Israeli flag.”
“I started to explain, ‘No, this is a Jewish pride flag. This is the Star of David,’” Anderson said. “But they really were not interested in hearing it. They were swearing. They were talking over us.”

Anderson also stressed that she refused to discuss her personal views on Israel (nor did she during her interview with The Daily Beast). “I just said, ‘I’m here as a Jew. I’m here as a Jew.’’
At this point, Anderson said people were shouting over them, and she walked away. Then she got a call from Grauer saying she had been kicked out. “I was standing in the middle of the park, and I felt scared to move. I felt if I moved at all, the people would see my flag and they would find me and kick me out, too.”
Anderson found Grauer near the edge of the park, crying. According to Anderson, shortly thereafter, an organizer who identified herself as “a Jewish person who had been sent by the organizers to speak with us about our flags,” approached her.
She told Anderson, “Your flag looks too much like Israeli flags because of the star, and that it is triggering to people and it makes them feel unsafe.”
Apparently, the irony of singling someone out and removing her from an event because of her Jewishness and then telling her she makes others feel unsafe was lost on the organizer.
Anderson said she tried to voice her own concerns about her well-being and security as a lesbian being kicked out of a Pride march for celebrating her Jewishness. “I said ‘You know, being told that my Jewish pride is unacceptable, that I can’t be visibly Jewish makes me feel unsafe, like it actually makes me feel unsafe.’” Her plea fell on deaf ears.
“They [organizers] just kept stating over and over again ‘This is unacceptable. This is too triggering,” Anderson said. “More people came over. I felt very out-numbered, and they were talking over me. It was clear that this was something that was unwinnable, and I left. Or, more accurately, they drove me out.”
In official statements, the organizers of the Chicago Dyke March have consistently said those carrying the Jewish pride flag were “asked to leave.” By the accounts from Anderson and Grauer, it seems like it was not a request but an order forced on them.
The Daily Beast made multiple attempts to reach out to the organizers of the Chicago Dyke March for comment.
Since the incident the organizers have issued two statements.
The first statement was posted on June 25. It reads: “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. The decision was made after they repeatedly expressed support for Zionism during conversations with Chicago Dyke Mark [sic] Collective members.”
Anderson repeatedly stressed she did not discuss her views on Israel — and she and Grauer have repeatedly said they explained they were showing Jewish pride, rather than Israel or Zionist pride.
Grauer said when Dyke March participants began interrogating her about her views on Israel, she said she was a Zionist who supported both Israeli and Palestinian statehood. She said they responded, “‘No, you can’t believe both ways.’”
In the second statement, which was released on June 27, the Chicago Dyke March accused the women of disrupting the march’s chants and specifically “replacing the word ‘Palestine’ with “everywhere,” saying: “From everywhere to Mexico, border walls have got to go.”
Anderson and Grauer have adamantly denied this allegation. Overall, Anderson said the two statements from the Chicago Dyke March organizers were “inflammatory and inaccurate.”
The second statement focused on stressing that the Chicago Dyke March was explicitly “anti-Zionist” and stated “Zionism is an inherently white-supremacist ideology.” It also stated, “We welcome the support we have received from Jewish allies and marchers who are as invested in liberation as we are.”

You know better, Jason, than to accuse me of being an Israeli apologist. But by the standards evidently applied in this case, it is clear that supporters of Gush Shalom, who's emblem is the Israeli and Palestinian flags, would be tossed out. Most of the AWL would be ejected. And if called upon to chant, "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" or "we don't want two states , we want 48" (as was changed at the Al Quds march in NYC a few days ago), I would refuse to lend my voice.

I don't think its my socialist obligation to reject Israeli imperialism, oppression and racism by mindlessly signing on to the chauvinist program of the oppressed. We are internationalists and our politics arei conditioned by our drive to unify workers across borders and extinguish the poisons of nationalist hatred, not to enflame them with baseless demonizations.

Give it some thought before you condemn your comrades.

What can I say...

I'm more inclined to trust JVP than something reported by the Daily Beast, not exactly the most consistently pro-queer of publications. Read up on Nico Hine's 2016 Olympics Grindr article.

AWL American contributers

It would be interesting to read an analysis of this characteristic trend by our comradely Democratic Socialist contributer.

It's absurd

I wasn't at the convention. But the idea that the endorsement of BDS -- which most new members of DSA see as a moral obligation -- had anything to do with Shabbat is ridiculous. Plenty of Jews in DSA, plenty of Jews at the convention endorsed BDS.

Many of those who support BDS are Jewish, like Jewish Voice for Peace (though there are sectarians who claim JVP doesn't support "real" BDS, whatever that means, because they mainly concentrate on divestment from companies that profit from the occupation of the West Bank, boycotting Sabra hummus because it donates some of its profits to the IDF, etc.)

Personally I doubt that anything short of an end to US military, economic and diplomatic support for Israel will make that much difference. But I don't mind the endorsement.

As for "from the river to the sea..." I have enough faith in my comrades to hear that as a call for a democratic binational state of historic Palestine. I don't think that goal can be reached without a two-state interim period, but the implied idea that DSA members want to "drive the Jews into the sea" is rubbish.

Scheduling conflicts again? Tough luck.

The organizers of a racial justice march in Washington scheduled for next month are seeking to bring people together “united in our demands for racial equity and justice.”

But by scheduling the event for September 30, which this year falls on Yom Kippur, they’ve left many Jews who were eager to take part out in the cold.

"Many" will surely take comfort in Jason Schulman's reassurance that plenty of Jews will endorse this. It's just the way things worked out. That's how it is. What's to get upset about?

Yet others will mutter that two positives can never make a negative. This Scottish-accented voice says "Aye, right!"

Who else will be carefully looking at their multi-inclusive, progressive safe-space calendars with an eye to scheduling? Sept 20-22 (Jewish New Year) and Sept 29-30 (Yom Kippur) are the dates to watch.

AWL is just about the last hold-out on the left. I would hope to see more solidarity with the type of hand held out by Daniel Randell and Jon Lansman.

Who are the organizers of said march?

Jim, the DSA resolution on BDS was supposed to take place on the Friday before the Saturday in which it was actually voted upon. It got delayed. Shit happens.

Furthermore the truth is that there are very few devout Jews in DSA. Lots of secular ones, yes. Devout ones, no. So no one inside DSA (aside from Eric Lee, if I recall correctly, whose politics are generally right-social-democratic anyway and whose opinions I simply don't care about) has complained. Just right-wing papers like the Jerusalem Post.

Considering that the AWL, or at least Sean M., pushes Marxist atheism pretty hard, I don't get why you're so upset about this, Jim. Would you be so upset if a vote on a BDS resolution or a racial justice march occurred on a Christian or Muslim holiday?

BTW, I talked to a comrade who was at the convention who was seated next to the Boston delegates, who were the people who started chanting the "from the river to the sea" chant. His words:

"The chant was largely a spontaneous decision of a small number of Boston DSA comrades sitting next to me. I understand the chant as an expression of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

Claims that the chant is antisemitic are spurious. It's my understanding that the other comrades making that chant would overwhelmingly support a binational single state, as do I."

I disagree with the chanters that a two-state settlement can be "skipped over." I also agree with those who would say that the chant is the slogan of the bourgeois nationalist wing of the Palestinian freedom movement. Those who did the chanting -- all in their 20s, I think -- were surely unaware of this.

So I'm not about to condemn the whole of my organization because a select few new members goofed up. I hope they'll learn more history so that they don't do it again.