The DC Dyke March, an LGBTQ protest scheduled for Friday in the US capital, is facing heavy criticism for its decision to ban any “pro-Israel paraphernalia,” including Jewish symbols such as the Star of David.
The controversy echoes one that took place two years ago in Chicago, when the local Dyke March ejected marchers for carrying flags bearing the Star of David.
A joint statement by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, the feminist Zionist organization Zioness and pro-Israel LGBTQ group A Wider Bridge strongly condemned the march, saying, “to the extent that organizers intended the ban as a form of protection for queer Palestinians and Arabs, the decision makes queer Jews and Israelis that much more vulnerable at a time of rising anti-Semitism, on the far right and far left.”
“The DC Dyke March should know better than to stoke the flames of division and pain by driving a wedge between Queer Arabs and Jews at a time we must stand united against homo- and transphobia, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia,” the statement read. “We hope that they will do better — for the sake and advancement of all of our communities.”
Jonathan Greenblatt — CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — said, “It is outrageous that in preparing to celebrate LGBTQ pride, the DC Dyke March is forbidding Jewish participants from carrying any flag or sign that includes the Star of David, which is universally recognized as a symbol of the Jewish people. Banning the Star of David in their parade is antisemitic, plain and simple. The LGBTQ community and its supporters are diverse, and that is part of its tremendous strength. We call on the organizers to immediately reverse this policy.”
One of the Jewish organizers of the march, Yael Horowitz, said that all “nationalist symbols” were banned, especially those of “nations that have specific oppressive tendencies.”
“If someone would show up with an American flag but with the stripes as a rainbow, we would treat it the same way,” she told The Washington Post. “I think what’s getting erased here is pro-Israel and pro-Jewish are very different things.”
The flag of the Palestinian nationalist movement, however, will be permitted.
When asked about the issue by Jewish activist A.J. Campbell, Horowitz replied, “Jewish stars and other identifications and celebrations of Jewishness (yarmulkes, talit, other expressions of Judaism or Jewishness) are welcome and encouraged. We do ask that participants not bring pro-Israel paraphernalia in solidarity with our queer Palestinian friends.”
Campbell told the Post that the response was troubling.
“I just thought, the Chicago Dyke March is happening all over again — here,” she said. “I’ve been a Jewish lesbian for a long time, and it’s never been a problem. … They seem to have very specific ideas about what kind of Jew I’m supposed to be, and I don’t feel like they get to say that.”
Other Dyke Marches have allowed Star of David or Israeli flags.
In an article in the LGBTQ newspaper The Washington Blade, Horowitz and fellow organizer Rae Gaines described themselves as “self-loving Anti-Zionists,” saying, “The claim is that we are banning Jewish symbols, which is entirely untrue. We are asking people to not bring nationalist symbols because violent nationalism does not fit with our vision of queer liberation. And because we need the march to be a space that is as welcoming to Palestinian Dykes as it is to Jewish Dykes.”
They also claimed the Star of David only became a Jewish symbol in the 19th century because of the Zionist movement, and declared, “We choose to prioritize Palestinian lives and justice in Palestine over lazy symbols.”