Columnist Jonathan Capehart at The Washington Post has a rather extraordinary column on the “anti-pinkwashing” near-riot at the Creating Change conference in Chicago on Friday night, January 22.

The column is extraordinary in that it reflects a growing realization even in the mainstream media that the thin line between rabid anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism has been crossed in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

We covered the situation in our post, Jewish Voice for Peace helps disrupt Israeli LGBTQ group Sabbath event, which has video and images, and explains the tactic:

The pinkwashing charge is essential for BDS on U.S. college campuses because BDS has trouble squaring its support for regimes (including Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, not to mention most Arab countries) which abuse and persecute gays with BDS’s attempt to co-opt the progressive movement.

Hence, the pinkwashing claim that Israel’s promotion of its gay-friendly policies is actually a greater evil than the abuse heaped on gays in areas controlled by Israel’s enemies.

If you want to get a sense of how threatening the anti-Israel crowd was, view this video from a group that appears to support the protest. Imagine yourself in the conference room with hundreds of people screaming just outside the doors and trying to push their way past security. Also note the chants of “mic check” — a phrase made famous during the Occupy Wall Street protests:

Algemeiner magazine has a first-hand account:

“There were about 200 protesters outside the room. They blockaded the room, three of them entered the room, took over the stage, and the people from Jerusalem Open House were not allowed to speak,” explained Adrian Shanker, Executive Director of the Allentown, Pennsylvania-based, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. “They [Kala-Meir and Canning] were escorted out of the room so they would be safe, and we were all asked to leave through the service entrance for our safety.” …

“When you have Jewish people in a room blockaded by a lot of angry people yelling at them from outside, accusing them of being racists and blocking the exits so they can’t leave, it creates an unsafe environment for Jews, as our cultural history has shown over time,” said Mr. Shanker.

(added) Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum also wrote in Haaretz about what she witnessed:

On Friday January 22nd, after a peaceful Shabbat service, the JOH reception was due to begin, when about 200 protestors appeared, threatening and chanting and acting aggressively and calling for the eradication of Israel…

I’m a veteran of a number of very passionate and fierce protest actions. However, the mob-like feeling of the crowd was frightening and profoundly disturbing.

The hotel security locked the main door at a certain point to try and prevent more protesters from getting into the room, at which point protesters started pushing at a partition wall, to get in through the side, chanting “Shut it down! Shut it down!” I actually stood against the wall trying to prevent it being broken down….

For the Israelis, this situation triggered their memory of the stabber who attacked people in the Jerusalem Gay Pride march this past year. With the shouting getting louder, the partition wall being pushed, and the protesters aggressively approaching and taking the stage, it felt like things were spiraling out of control, and I escorted the Israelis out of the room through a side door. 

Capehart writes, This show of anti-Semitism at an LGBT conference should bring change:

Reporting on the demonstrations paints a chaotic scene of provocation, invective and reaction, as do the videos. One video in particular was especially disturbing because of what was being chanted:

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

Those words are alarming because Palestine can’t get “from the river to the sea” without wiping the Jewish state off the map.

What happened in Chicago was so disturbing that an extraordinary group of 41 national and grass-roots LGBT leaders have signed a letter to Task Force executive director Rea Carey expressing their deep concern. The idea for the two-page missive came from Roberta Kaplan, the attorney who successfully argued the marriage-equality case before the Supreme Court, and Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, leader of the nation’s largest LGBT synagogue, who was at the conference and witnessed the demonstrations. They were joined by a host of Jewish and non-Jewish LGBT signatories, including Dana Beyer, Barney Frank, Vincent Jones, Andrea Shorter, Christine Quinn, the Rev. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas, Edie Windsor and Evan Wolfson.

The Open Letter to which Capehart was referrring is Letter to the LGBTQ Task Force:

…. More than one hundred protesters succeeded in physically intimidating and ultimately shutting down a reception organized by AWB featuring Israeli speakers from JOH. It has been reported — and videos taken contemporaneously confirm — that the protesters chanted slogans like “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea,” which necessarily suggests that the State of Israel should no longer exist. Another protester shouted, “We are going to challenge these Zionist racist motherfuckers.” There were also reports of altercations between the protesters and the reception guests. Witnesses saw a man get into a scuffle with the protesters and have his yarmulke knocked off his head. In a separate incident, there is a report of an individual who was called “kike.” ….

The targeted organizations’ reception was disrupted and shut down by protesters (including people not attending the conference) with such hostility and aggression that speakers and attendees at the event were justifiably terrified and felt physically threatened. We are united in our belief that what transpired at CC16 was dangerous, deeply disturbing, and given the use of epithets like “kike,” clearly anti-Semitic….

Given the concentrated and organized hostility that is so often displayed against Jewish and Israeli LGBTQ groups, and the stark rise in global anti-Semitism, it is even more important that we as a community promote civil and respectful debate. It is intellectually, politically and morally dishonest to claim that in the name of freedom, liberation, or some other progressive ideal, there is a right to target and exclude Jewish/Israeli groups, to foment physical intimidation and harassment, and to encourage anti-Semitism….

The National LGBTQ Task Force, which organized the conference, issued a statement National LGBTQ Task Force Condemns Anti-Semitism, which reads in part:

The following statement is being released by Rea Carey, National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director, at the close of this year’s Creating Change Conference in Chicago, Illinois.

“I want to make this crystal clear: the National LGBTQ Task Force wholeheartedly condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic statements made at any Task Force event including our Creating Change Conference. It is unacceptable. Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable whether it’s directed at Jewish or Muslim people. Let me also be clear regarding a reception planned and hosted by the group A Wider Bridge with guests from Jerusalem Open House that happened after the annual Shabbat service and a protest of that reception. We are deeply concerned about how the events of the evening unfolded — and have already initiated a review of our conference practices….

Michael Lucas at OUT magazine wrote, The Creating Change Protest Was Pure Anti-Semitism:

It could have been a scene from the early days of Nazi Germany: a raucous mob surrounding a gathering of Jews, chanting vicious slogans, screaming epithets, all the while their faces distorted by a hatred that is as irrational as it is stunning.

But this was not 1930s Berlin; it was the Hilton Chicago hotel just last week. Perhaps the so-called “progressive” liberal Jews and Israelis at the LGBT rights conference there thought that their prior public criticism of Israel would protect themselves from attack—a kind of verbal “Iron Dome” similar to Israel’s ingenious missile defense system.

They were sadly mistaken. The 200 thugs who showed up Friday at a Jewish reception were not interested in dialogue. They comprised an enraged gang filled with Jew-hatred, bent on intimidating and silencing LGBT Jews who have any connection to the state of Israel. And the sponsor of the “Creating Change Conference,” the National LGBTQ Task Force, knew full well the potential for violence, and did absolutely nothing to safeguard the lives of more than 100 participants at the reception….

As wild-eyed as they were ignorant, those in the horde cheered in support of one leader of the attack who yelled “We’re going to challenge these Zionist racist motherfuckers!”

They blocked those who wanted to attend the reception from entering, and held prisoner those already inside the conference room. Several entered the room and commandeered the stage.

Despite that, A Wider Bridge’s director of programs, Tyler Gregory, courageously tried to speak about the links between Israel’s LGBT community and those around the world. As can be seen near the end of this video, however, he was shouted down by the hysterical screaming of an anti-Israel hater….

It must be pointed out here that while criticism of Israeli government policies can be legitimate, the extreme left has crossed the line into anti-Semitism, a term from the 1800s that simply means hatred of Jews. The imbeciles yelling in the hallway of that Chicago hotel did not care that the leftist Jerusalem Open House works to protect Palestinian gays, because they don’t really care about the Palestinians. Their entire obsession is with the only Jewish country in the world, Israel, and their desire to see the Jewish state and its inhabitants destroyed.

Mark Segal, who was in attendance, recounted the experience, Calling out insensitive, anti-Semitic protest at Creating Change 2016:

I was at Creating Change to speak about my just-published memoir, which speaks of my numerous arrests and nickel rides fighting for social justice. In many of the cities on my book tour, a young LGBT person asks, “What can we do today to create activism?” So I appreciate many in that crowd at the protest who were there wanting to do something. Unfortunately, they weren’t given the facts. They were misled into what became an ugly anti-Semitic rally….

Many of us would gladly protest Israeli treatment of Palestinians — I myself support a Palestinian state, the so-called “two-state solution” — but that is different than supporting the Palestinian government that wants you put to death if you’re LGBT and live on the Gaza Strip. But trapping Jews in a room yelling what is as close to a death slogan as there is … Does that conjure something? Look up “Kristallnacht.” Insensitive at the very least.

It’s great to see this generation wanting to protest injustice, but they need to understand the issues and the lessons of our early fight for equality. Fight first for our community’s rights, since if we do not, nobody else will. LGBT Palestinians can’t speak out in their homeland, and your protests only embolden those who keep them from speaking out.

The Task Force acknowledged its mishandling of the situation and said it will work to prevent future incidents. While they may have been unprepared, protest organizers are the ones who need to apologize — not just to those in that room who were forced to leave through a back door for safety, but to the entire LGBT community for their insensitivity and for supporting those who support our oppression.

The term these individuals use is “pinkwashing.” From this time on, pinkwashing equals self-hating anti-Semites.

None of this is happenstance.

Physical intimidation is the key to recent BDS activity, with speakers being shouted down and disrupted. The twisted doctrine of “Intersectionality” of which anti-pinkwashing is one version, makes Israel — and Israel alone — the common link among unrelated wrongs and problems in the world. Intersectionality has become the intellectual foundation of the movement.

That the LBGT community is waking up to what BDS really is, is not surprising. It’s sad that is took an incident like this to make it happen.