Chicago Dyke March & The Jews
The rainbow flag is supposed to symbolize inclusiveness. The origin of the rainbow as a symbol is God’s blessing for all of humanity after the Flood. It sometimes happens that a march or other event celebrating one group or another disincludes some categories of people. If I remember correctly a gay Jewish organization had trouble in the past being included in the Salute to Israel parade. Banning tgroups based on religion or race is less common now. Banning LGBTQs is less common now, thought still sometimes an issue.
However when there is a LGBTQ event that bars such a group, that strikes me as just wrong. This happened recently in Chicago when the organizers of a lesbian event banned a rainbow flag with a Magen David on it (That is the six-pointed star which is a common Jewish symbol which also appears on the Israeli flag). The organizers banned such a flag because they asserted it is Israeli and therefore a symbol of the oppression of Palestinians. I have encountered this kind of thing before and always find it unreasonable and containing a whiff at least of anti-Semitism.
I have been an advocate for Palestinian rights and for their statehood since the early 70s, if not before. I have been very public about it, despite that causing me some grief and probably costing me at least one job. I am committed to that today. I am also a Zionist because I support the idea of a Jewish state. That puts me often in uncomfortable situations, but it also enables me to address audiences that support Israel and audiences that support the Palestinian cause with some credibility.
I carried out a Google search for articles on the issue and found one on The Electronic Intifada where, as expected, I found support for the ban.
Their site allows comments from readers. I posted the following. I hope it helps my readers understand the issues involved.
“For me this is a very complicated issue and I find your response to be limited. I am a Zionist (leftist variety); I have advocated for Palestinian rights and have publicly criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians for over forty years (at some cost to myself and my career); I am an advocate for LGBTQ rights; I am from an old Chicago family; and, having grown up among Holocaust survivors I have a lifetime commitment to communication and co-operation among faiths including Islam.
I think I understand the objections of Palestinians and their supporters, but the fact remains, what I am reading smacks of old-fashioned anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Israel (based on deserved offense at Israeli policies and practices regaring Palestinians). On the other hand this kind of protest only adds to the conflict and the problem. It deepens the division.
The Lesbian community has important problems it faces and inserting this issue hurts them and their cause. The same kind of thing happened at two of the UN conferences on women’s issues derailing the real purpose of those conferences.
What I believe will help is for a special group like “dykes” to use their common identity and situation as an opportunity for the people involved to talk and listen to each other. Showing pride in being Jewish should not offend homosexuals. In fact people of many identities – religious, ethnic, etc. – coming together and showing their diversity would be a source of strength for the movement. This is what the rainbow is supposed to symbolize and I do not mean just the flag.
LGBTQ groups have been barred from showing their colors at marches celebrating identity. For those under the rainbow banner to behave this way is kind of a betrayal of themselves.
My guess is that among Jewish dykes there is a range of political opinion and many will be in sympathy with the oppression of the Palestinian people.
The question is are you part of the problem or part of the solution?”