Organizers of a Chicago lesbian march banned rainbow flags bearing the Star of David, also known as the Jewish Pride flag, from their event held Saturday because some marchers claimed it made them "feel unsafe."
Chicago's "Dyke March" has been held since 1995, and Jewish marchers have not previously been banned for expressing their Jewish identity. However, the march's organizers have increased their focus on far-left political causes such as anti-Zionism, and this year its "pro-Palestinian" stance has justified censoring Jewish expression.
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Rainbow American flags were also censored as "signs of oppression," according to the Windy City Times.
"I was here as a proud Jew in all of my identities," said Iranian Jew Eleanor Shoshany-Anderson. "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."
Laurel Grauer, another marcher, claimed to have carried her Jewish Pride flag for a decade, and only faced censorship this year. Organizers criticized her for being a part of A Wider Bridge, an organization they accused of "connections to the Israeli state and right-wing, pro-Israel interest groups."
"They were telling me to leave because my flag was a trigger to people that they found offensive," Grauer said. "Prior to this [march] I had never been harassed or asked to leave and I had always carried the flag with me."
The march's organizers consider Jewish expressions of gay pride to be a ploy to distract from Israel's "violent occupation of Palestine." Pro-Palestinian groups call this "pinkwashing," but other non-Jewish marchers criticized the march organizers for accepting that framework.
"This is not what this community is supposed to be about," marcher Ruthie Steiner told the Windy City Times. "I'm German-born. Am I pinkwashing by being here and supporting my community? Is every nation which does not have a clean civil-rights record and also hosts a pride parade guilty of pinkwashing?"
"With all the people that so hate the LGBTQ community, for it to tear itself apart in self-hatred makes no sense at all," Steiner added.
March organizers expressed their commitment to intersectionality in a statement while condemning the Jewish Pride marchers. They cited numerous groups they support, including the "undocumented community," but they did not include Jewish LGBT people.
"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," organizers said in a statement. "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 support for Zionism during conversations with Chicago Dyke March Collective members."
"The Chicago Dyke March Collective is explicitly not anti-Semitic, we are anti-Zionist," the organizers added. "The Chicago Dyke March Collective supports the liberation of Palestine and all oppressed people everywhere."
They later amended their comments to say that they support and welcome "anti-Zionist" Jewish people.