(JTA) — Jewish groups denounced the banning of Jewish Pride flags at a lesbian march in Chicago and called for an apology.
Organizers of the 21st annual Chicago Dyke March told the three women asked to leave the march that the rainbow flags with a white Star of David in the center would be a “trigger,” or traumatic stimulus, for people who found them offensive.
A Dyke March collective member told the Windy City Times that the women were told to leave because the flags “made people feel unsafe,” and that Sunday’s march was “anti-Zionist” and “pro-Palestinian.”
The Anti-Defamation League said in a statement Monday that march organizers should apologize to the women for what it described as an “outrageous” action.
“The community of LGBTQ supporters is diverse and that is part of its tremendous strength,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO. “Both the act and the explanation were anti-Semitic, plain and simple. We stand with A Wider Bridge and others in demanding an apology. We appreciate the Human Rights Campaign’s support and we call on other leaders from LGBTQ and progressive communities to join us in condemning this exclusion.”
The Human Rights Campaign, which calls itself the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization with 1.5 million members, tweeted its support for the women.
“Marches should be safe spaces to celebrate our diversity and our pride. This is not right,” the group wrote.
The Chicago Dyke march in a statement issued late Sunday said that Palestinian and Jewish anti-Zionist marchers approached the women and expressed concern about the flags since they are “visually reminiscent of the Israeli flag” due to the placement of the Star of David in the middle, and because such flags are widely used in “pinkwashing” — what some activists say is Israel’s attempt to promote its progressive gay rights as a screen for mistreatment of Palestinians.
The women were asked to leave, according to the statement, after they began “defending the state of Israel and Zionism as a whole.” The statement continued: “It became clear that the political position of the marchers was at odds with the anti-racist and anti-Zionist ethos of Dyke march Chicago.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights NGO, also denounced the banning of the Jewish Pride flags, saying it “brings disgrace to a movement that is dedicated to equal rights for all.”
“Equal rights that is except for Jews who dare to celebrate their ties to their people and the Jewish homeland,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the center, said in a statement.
He added: “The unbridled hypocrisy and anti-Semitism of these campaigners degrades the cause for equality for all in our society and for LGBTQ rights around the world.”
The Chicago Jewish Voice for Peace, which backs the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, offered its support to march organizers, retweeting their statement and declaring, “We stand 100% w @DykeMarchChi.…”