Protesters disrupt Jewish reception at Chicago gay conference


(JTA) — Hundreds of protesters sought to disrupt a reception for Jewish participants at a gay activism conference in Chicago.

Chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, pinkwashing has got to go,” the protesters streamed through the Hilton Chicago on Friday night toward the reception hosted by A Wider Bridge, a Jewish LGBTQ organization that seeks to build ties between gay communities in North America and Israel.

Pinkwashing is the term used to described alleged efforts by Israel to cover up its treatment of Palestinians by touting its record on gay rights.

The program, which featured members of Jerusalem Open House, a gay activist organization based in the Israeli capital, had earlier been canceled by The National LGBTQ Task Force, which organizes the Creating Change conference. The organization later reversed its decision.

A statement Saturday from A Wider Bridge said protesters had entered the reception and taken over the stage, preventing the visiting Israelis from speaking.

“Last night the values of free speech and respectful communication that we all value and that should be the hallmark of the Creating Change conference were replaced by a disgraceful authoritarian-like action that seeks to silence the voices of anyone the protesters feel don’t adhere to their rigid dogma,” the statement said. “Lies and gross distortions about A Wider Bridge and Israel were being repeated throughout the conference and at the protest. We look forward to working with the leadership of the Task Force to ensure that Creating Change can be a welcoming and safe space for LGBT people, Jews and non-Jews, who care about Israel.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that the protests targeted a Shabbat service held at the Creating Change conference. They targeted a reception held with Israeli activists. 

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