The Chicago Dyke March has hit back after being criticised for telling attendees waving Pride flags bearing a Jewish Star of David to leave its event on Saturday.
Three people waving the flags were asked to leave because they were making “people feel unsafe” at the parade in the La Villita neighbourhood, which is part of the city’s annual Pride festivities.
Chicago Dyke March had been accused of antisemitism for banning the flag, as the Star of David has been Jewish symbol for hundreds of years.
Organisers have now hit back via their official Twitter account, claiming that the individuals were asked to leave for vocally expressing their support for Zionism.
Zionism is the movement that supports the establishment and continuation of a Jewish state as an expression of Jewish national self-determination.
“Chicago Dyke March was held in the La Villata neighborhood to express support for undocumented, refugee, and immigrant communities under threat of deportation,” read the statement from organisers on Twitter.
“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.”
It continued: “This decision was made after they repeatedly expressed support for Zionism during conversations with Chicago Dyke Mark Collective members.
“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 (https://tarabnyc.org/cancelpinkwashing) for using Israel’s supposed ‘LGBTQ tolerance’ to Pinkwash the violent occupation of Palestine.”
The statement concluded: “The Chicago Dyke March Collective is explicitly not anti-Semitic, we are anti-Zionist.
“The Chicago Dyke Mark Collective supports the liberation of Palestine and all oppressed people everywhere.
“From Palestine to Mexico, border walls have got to go!!”
A following tweet added: “AND EVEN THO THIS SHOULD BE OBVIOUS, QUEER AND TRANS ANTI-ZIONIST JEWISH FOLKS ARE WELCOME HERE ? ?? WE LOVE YOU AND NEED YOU.”
The account then retweeted a message of support from the For the People Artists Collective.
— For the People (@ForThePeopleChi) June 25, 2017
“Imagery that either intentionally or unintentionally invokes Zionism without any attempt to acknowledge or subvert those visual associations only serve to bolster support for Israel,” it read.
“In movements for justice and liberation, there is no room for Zionism of any kind. It is a racist and colonialist ideology that rationalizes violence against Black and brown people, particularly Palestinians.
“It is also an ideology that justifies violence toward Queer and Trans Palestinians while simultaneously touting Israel as a safe haven for LGBT rights in the Middle East.
“We know very well that there are no LGBT rights for those living under daily military occupation and violence.”
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It noted that he Star of David “is a Jewish symbol and not inherently connected to Israel or Zionism”, but said that the attendees were pressed for their opinions on Zionism because the the flags were “visually reminiscent of the Israeli flag due to the colour and placement of the star”.
One of the participants told to leave, Laurel Grauer, said that the flag celebrated her identity as a queer, Jewish woman and said that she had been marching with the flag for over a decade.
Another participant asked to leave, Eleanor Shoshany-Anderson, said: “The Dyke March is supposed to be intersectional.
“I don’t know why my identity is excluded from that. I felt that, as a Jew, I am not welcome here.”
A number of people on social media have hit out at Chicago Dyke March organisers.
“Horrified the Star of David has been banned from a Pride march,” said Calum Sherwood.
“This is anti-semitism. Plain and simple.”
Sasha Perigo added: “People wearing Jewish pride flags and Stars of David were asked to leave Dyke March Chicago. That is completely unacceptable.”