Three people carrying Jewish Pride flags were asked to leave the Chicago Dyke March on Saturday in part because they “repeatedly expressed support for Zionism,” according to the organizers. One member of the Dyke March collective said those carrying the rainbow flag with a Star of David in the middle were told to leave because the flags “made people feel unsafe,” adding that the march was “anti-Zionist” and “pro-Palestinian,” according to the Windy City Times. American flags also were reportedly not welcome at the event, although it isn’t clear whether anyone was kicked out for having one. Flags from other nations appears to have been allowed.
The annual Dyke March is billed as a more inclusive event that has a stronger focus on social justice issues than the massive Chicago Pride Parade on Sunday. Some 1,500 people took part in the Dyke March this year.
One of those who was kicked out of the march said she was approached numerous times over her flag. “They were telling me to leave because my flag was a trigger to people that they found offensive,” Laurel Grauer said. “Prior to this [march] I had never been harassed or asked to leave and I had always carried the flag with me.” Another person who was asked to leave told the Windy City Times that she was made to feel that “as a Jew, I am not welcome here.”
The organizers defended their decision to ask certain demonstrators to leave. A member of the Dyke March Collective spoke to Chicagoist on Sunday and insisted the organization is not anti-Semitic but rather didn’t want to be associated with anything that could be interpreted as pro-Israel. “Yesterday during the rally we saw three individuals carrying Israeli flags super imposed on rainbow flags. Some folks say they are Jewish Pride flags. But as a Collective we are very much pro-Palestine, and when we see these flags we know a lot of folks who are under attack by Israel see the visuals of the flag as a threat, so we don’t want anything in the [Dyke March] space that can inadvertently or advertently express Zionism,” she said. “So we asked the folks to please leave. We told them people in the space were feeling threatened.”
The American Jewish Committee condemned the action and called for others to speak up against the move. “In the heart of our city one of the most blatant incidents of anti-Semitism took place today at the Dyke March,” said AJC Chicago Director Amy Stoken. “Where is the collective outrage over this despicable targeting of Jews?”
Last year, Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern explored the growing anti-Semitism that “has begun to tear at the seams of the LGBTQ movement.”