Jewish LGBT Leader Scorns Chicago Dyke March Organizers For ‘Heinous’ Defense of Star of David Ban
The founder of the premier organization linking the LGBT communities in North America and Israel slammed on Monday the organizers of a gay rights march in Chicago for justifying the exclusion of Jewish participants.
Arthur Slepian — the founder and executive director of A Wider Bridge (AWB) — said the response of the Chicago Dyke March Collective to condemnation of its decision to ban the participation of Jews carrying rainbow flags embossed with the Star of David at its march on Saturday was “at least as heinous, or even more heinous, than original exclusion.”
One of Slepian’s colleagues, AWB’s Midwest Manager Laurie Grauer, was among the Jewish women ejected from the march by stewards. In an oped recounting the experience, Grauer reported that the only people removed from the march were those carrying Jewish Pride flags — on the grounds, said the march organizers, that “Zionism is inherently racism” – and extremist protesters from the violently homophobic Westboro Baptist Church sect.
Another ejected participant, Iranian Jew Eleanor Shoshany-Anderson, observed, “The Dyke March is supposed to be intersectional…I felt that, as a Jew, I am not welcome here.”
Slepian said the decision to prevent Grauer and her friends from marching was “clearly antisemitism.”
But the organizers’ response to the condemnation — in which they stressed that “anti-Zionist” Jews were welcome at the march — was “even worse,” Slepian told The Algemeiner.
“They are saying, ‘only the good Jews need apply,'” Slepian said. “They want to impose a litmus test, have people swear an oath that they are not friends of Israel.”
Slepian warned that antisemitic actions such as those witnessed at the Chicago march were only sowing further division in the LGBT movement. As in other sections of the civil rights community, pro-Israel LGBT activists are feeling increased pressure from far-left groups that are in turn influenced by progressive advocates like Linda Sarsour, who declared in a March interview with The Nation that there was “no room” for Zionist women in the feminist movement.
“This is a particular moment in our history, where the LGBTQ community is feeling more threatened than it has for quite some time, ” Slepian said. “We need to stand together — these kinds of fights that divide us, where people say that only those willing to sign on to this agenda are welcome to participate, is doing really great damage to our movement.”
Slepian’s organization was named specifically in the organizers’ response, which denounced AWB in conspiratorial language over its “connections to the Israeli state and right-wing pro-Israel interest groups.” According to its mission statement, AWB is a non-partisan group which seeks to advance LGBT rights in Israel while defending it from delegitimization at the same time.
Jewish groups including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Jewish Committee (AJC) and Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) all denounced the march organizers’ decision.
However, J Street — which claims to represent progressive Jews on Israel-related issues — was silent on the exclusion, with a request from The Algemeiner for a statement on Monday morning going unanswered.