After Dyke March Scandal, SlutWalk Chicago Bans ‘Zionist Displays’ From Upcoming August Protest
After the scandal involving the ejection of Jewish women carrying Star of David pride flags at Chicago’s Dyke March on June 28, a sister organization in the city has announced that it will follow suit by banning “Zionist displays” from its upcoming protest against sexual violence and “rape culture.”
The ban was announced this week on social media by the organizers of SlutWalk Chicago — part of an international protest movement that “fights rape culture, victim blaming, and slut shaming.” The Chicago event is set to take place on August 12.
“We still stand behind Dyke March Chicago’s decision to remove the Zionist contingent from their event, & we won’t allow Zionist displays at ours,” the organizers tweeted last Sunday — beginning several days of exchanges with other users over the policy. These were distinguished by the organizers’ continued insistence that anti-Zionism is a legitimate progressive belief, and that any linkage with antisemitism should be dismissed as a discrediting tactic.
In one exchange defending the Dyke March decision to exclude the Jewish women, the SlutWalk organizers aggressively justified the action, declaring: “They were kicked out after a discussion where they made their Zionist beliefs known and refused to back down.”
The Star of David flag was banned, they continued, “because its connections to the oppression enacted by Israel is too strong for it to be neutral & IN CONTEXT it was used as a Zionist symbol.”
wrong. They were kicked out after a discussion where they made their Zionist beliefs known and refused to back down.
— SlutWalk Chicago (@slutwalkchi) July 17, 2017
Many of the exchanges underscored the degree to which “Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)” — a Rockefeller Brothers Fund-backed organization that promotes the BDS campaign against Israel among American Jews — is involved in enforcing the exclusion of “Zionist” individuals and groups from the protest movement.
Both the Dyke March and SlutWalk Chicago have referred to their relationships with JVP in order to justify the exclusion policy, with the Dyke March praising one the organization’s representatives in Chicago for assisting them in expelling the Jewish women. In another Twitter post, SlutWalk Chicago described “Jewish Voice for Peace” as a “Jewish initiative” that attracts the support of “other radical Chicago organizations.”
A new report on JVP issued on Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) observed that in recent months, the group “has taken increasingly radical positions and has employed questionable tactics in pursuit of its mission to diminish support for Israel.”
JVP’s tactics, the ADL said, include harassment of pro-Israel LGBTQ activists — as evidenced at the Chicago Dyke March and at the Celebrate Israel rally in New York on June 4.
“It is perfectly legitimate to criticize Israeli policies,” the ADL commented. “But JVP’s single-minded desire to paint Israel as a source of racism and violence has led it far beyond legitimate criticism of Israel.”
“JVP has also turned on American Jews who are not deemed supportive enough of JVP’s agenda,” the ADL warned.
Gretchen Rachel Hammond — the Chicago journalist who broke the story of the exclusion of the Jewish women and was subsequently suspended from reporting duties by her employer, the Windy City Times, as revealed by The Algemeiner — said on Thursday that the SlutWalk organizers’ announcement was further evidence of “jumping on the anti-Zionist bandwagon” among rights advocates who were never involved with Middle Eastern conflicts in the past.
“I covered the Dyke March and the SlutWalk for three years,” Hammond said in an interview. “They were characteristically Chicago marches, courageous and taking the issues on in a direct manner. Like rape, the treatment of transgender people by the police, women’s imprisonment, the legalization of sex work that helps people survive. I never saw any anti-Zionism.”
Hammond said she was concerned that “by doing this again, they will exclude people who are allies.”
“We are fighting for these causes in a tough society, and if you’re a transgender person, you need all the allies you can get,” she asserted. “If your allies are only those who are ideologically acceptable to you, then your message will be weakened.”
Hammond also talked about the personal cost of resisting anti-Zionist orthodoxies in the current climate. In the wake of her report and subsequent suspension, she received several threatening messages. Hammond said she also incurred the disapproval of colleagues when she “argued fiercely” that the Windy City Times should give equal space to post-march statements from the Dyke March Collective and pro-Israel LGBTQ group A Wider Bridge — on this as well, she was overruled.
“This was the first time in four years of journalism I’d been attacked in such a coordinated way and I retreated into self-blame and self-doubt,” she said.
“I know that being attacked as a journalist is an occupational hazard, but it’s one thing if you’re taking it from opponents, and quite something else when it comes from a community to whom you have dedicated your life,” Hammond reflected.