Chicago Pride parade accused of anti-Semitism

A gay pride march in San Francisco in 2014. (Photo: Sarah Stierch via WikiCommmons)

A Chicago Pride event held Saturday was marred by accusations of anti-Semitism after three participants say they were asked to leave the parade because they were carrying rainbow flags with the Star of David on them.

The 21st annual Dyke March was a joint effort by Organized Communities Against Deportations and the Chicago Dyke March Collective, and was focused this year on “undocumented, refugee, and immigrant communities under threat of deportation.” Though the Chicago Tribune reported spotting numerous Star of David flags and said the event went off without incident, the Windy City Times quoted a marcher who said she was harassed and eventually approached by parade organizers and asked to leave.

Laurel Grauer is the Midwest manager of A Wider Bridge, a pro-Israel LGBTQ organization. On Saturday, she was carrying a rainbow flag with the Star of David printed on it, and told the Windy City Times it was a gift from her congregation that “celebrates my queer, Jewish identity.”

Later, in Haaretz, Grauer wrote she had carried the same flag at the march for more than 10 years.

She said she was told, “You have to leave because you are making people feel unsafe. You are putting them in danger by being here.”

Grauer said she considered her flag a symbol of Jewish pride rather than Israeli pride.

Another participant, Eleanor Shoshany-Anderson, said she was asked to leave for the same reason.

“I was here as a proud Jew in all my identities,” Shoshany-Anderson told the Windy City Times, echoing Grauer’s point. “The Dyke March is supposed to be intersectional. I don’t know why my identity is excluded from that. I fell that, as a Jew, I am not welcome here.”

The Chicago Dyke March Collective released a statement in the aftermath asserting that the participants who were ejected, beyond carrying the flags, had expressed pro-Israel views.

“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,” the statement read.

“This decision was made after they repeatedly expressed support for Zionism during conversations with Chicago Dyke March 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 for using Israel’s supposed ‘LGBTQ tolerance’ to pinkwash the violent occupation of Palestine.”

The Anti-Defamation League called the episode “outrageous” in a statement attributed to ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

“Both the act and the explanation were anti-Semitic, plain and simple,” Greenblatt said.

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