Anti-Zionist Jews ban ‘Jewish Pride’ flag but embrace Palestinian flag in name of “intersectionality”
D.C. Dyke March 2019: Discrimination is unacceptable—except when it’s aimed at Jews and Jewish symbols.
It’s Pride Month, when people commemorate the Stonewall Uprising—a major turning point in the movement for gay rights.
But for the Washington, D.C. Dyke March (a leftist, lesbian-centered and activism-focused alternative to traditional gay pride parades), that can mean only one thing: activists using “intersectionality” to excuse their own bigotry.
“Intersectional Feminists” vs. Zionists: You Can’t Play With Us If You Love Israel
Intersectionality is the idea that all people are part of “overlapping systems of privilege and oppression.” It necessitates an obsessive focus on a person’s identity—racial, gender, religious, ethnic—in order to determine how oppressed and/or privileged that person may be. It then passes judgement about the validity of that person’s opinions—and how racist they are.
And although intersectionality says that individuals who identify as part of several oppressed groups face multiple layers of discrimination, often, Jewish LGBTQ+ Zionists don’t qualify. To the contrary, Israel is placed at the center of these intersecting systems of oppression, much as Jews historically were demonized as the center of worldwide conspiracies.
One of the most significant events in the evolution of this movement was in 2017, when Linda Sarsour claimed that there was no room in feminism for people who support the Jewish state.
In an interview in The Nation, Sarsour asserted, “It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?” There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.”
Of course, as we noted at the time, Sarsour’s commitment to stand up for “all women” does not extend to women who disagree with her; instead, Sarsour evidently feels that there is room within feminism for her to threaten those dissenting women with bodily harm.
Like Sarsour, some LGBTQ+ activists have tried to claim that there is no place in the gay rights movement for those who support Israel. As we reported in 2016, anti-Israel detractors have made a concerted effort to shut down Tel Aviv’s massive pride celebrations—which, if successful, would certainly be a detriment to the thousands of Middle Eastern LGBTQ+ folks for whom no similar event in the region exists.
Nevertheless, anti-Israel forces disregard the plight of queer Middle Easterners, and instead focus on advancing “Pinkwashing“—the charge that Israel only protects gay rights in order to distract the world from supposed Zionist crimes against Palestinians.
As ludicrous as these applications of exclusionary identity politics may seem, they are part of a wider campaign by some on the far-left: using intersectionality to demonize and ostracize Zionist (so, most) Jews.
The Dyke Marches present further examples of this campaign in action.
Dyke March Déjà Vu: Another Dyke March Excludes Queer ZionistsIn 2017, we reported on the controversy surrounding the Chicago Dyke March, in which the organizers demanded that three women—including Laurel Grauer, who works for pro-LGBTQ+ organization A Wider Bridge—carrying a rainbow flag with a Jewish star leave the gathering. Other Dyke March participants complained that the Jewish Pride flag made them “feel unsafe” and that the March was supposed to be an exclusively “anti-Zionist” and “pro-Palestinian” space. Following in Chicago’s footsteps, (Jewish) D.C. Dyke March leaders again tried to ban the Jewish Pride flag and those who wanted to wave it from the May 7, 2019 demonstration. This was ostensibly done to show “solidarity” with “Palestinian dykes”, because, as one Dyke March leader put it, “Displacement is a queer issue. Everything is intersectional.”
An Anti-Israel Animus: Dyke March Contends that Jewish Nationalism is Oppressive
As a rainbow flag with a white or blue Star of David at its center, the Jewish Pride flag is “is almost entirely reminiscent of the Israeli flag,” two of the (Jewish) Dyke March organizers—Yael Horowitz and Rae Gaines—claimed in The Washington Blade. This, apparently, is unacceptable to Horowitz and Gaines, who justified the ban by explaining that it would also apply to American flags and “nationalist symbols,” from “nations that have specific oppressive tendencies.”But in an astonishing display of hypocrisy, the D.C. Dyke March organizers also explicitly stated that the Palestinian flag would be allowed at the March.
A third Jewish Dyke March organizer, Jill Raney, explained that, “at this space, [the flags] represent the hope for Palestinian freedom, not a specific government.”She can be seen here and below demanding that Jewish would-be marchers somehow “remove the star” from the Jewish pride flag.
Dyke March Double Standards: Palestinian Nationalism is Acceptable
In their zeal to create a supposedly “safe space” for supposedly marginalized people, Horowitz, Gaines, and Raney showed their woeful (willful?) ignorance about the nationalist symbolism inherent in the Palestinian flag—and the “oppressive tendencies” of the regimes it represents. Indeed, besides the flag’s use as an emblem of exclusionary religious and ethno-nationalism by two unquestionably oppressive regimes—Hamas and the Palestinian Authority—its very colors are frequently said in Arab and Muslim mythology to represent four major imperialistic and often violent ruling Muslim dynasties throughout history: black for the Abbasids, white for the Umayyads, green for the Fatimids, and red, often for the Hashemites.Moreover, if any of those Dyke March leaders showed up in Gaza City they would be in grave danger—as homosexual women and as Jews. Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are guilty of horrific crimes against those suspected of being homosexual. Palestinians under both regimes have reported brutal torture, murder, persecution of suspects’ families, and lengthy imprisonment as punishment for suspected homosexuality. Hundreds of gay Palestinians have fled their homes to Israel, and multiple LGBT-advocacy and human rights groups have shown that gay rights in Israel far surpass those under Hamas or P.A. rule.
History of Hate: Dyke Marcher Yael Horowitz and Jewish Voice for Peace
But what do facts matter to these self-identified “Jewish Dykes”? Not much, evidently. All three of them are involved with “intersectional” activist groups that have a habit of targeting Israel.
In fact, Horowitz is known for helping to lead the puerile 2014 charge by radical group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) to rid her alma mater, Wesleyan, of the Israeli hummus brand, Sabra. She was quoted in the ardently anti-Israel blog The Electronic Intifada, gloating that Wesleyan had caved to SJP demands. She was subsequently embarrassed when the college corrected the record and the brand remained on campus.
Horowitz is also credited with helping to found a chapter of the extreme anti-Israel group, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) at Wesleyan. JVP has a “long history of distorting Judaism to support its own political causes” and has regularly hosted and honored convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh. (Odeh helped to plan and perpetrate a 1969 bombing in Jerusalem that murdered Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner.)
Unsurprisingly, JVP-Chicago proclaimed its support for the 2017 Chicago Dyke March’s ejection of Jews from the parade.
In a 2015 interview she gave to the school newspaper, Horowitz advocated Wesleyan Student Association’s passage of a boycott resolution against Israel, and claimed (without offering any examples), “The occupation of Palestine is not happening at Wesleyan, but Wesleyan students are complicit in it, and are always in a lot of ways unaware of it.”
Most recently, Horowitz continued her unabashed campaign of ignorance and hypocrisy by appearing as a panelist at JVP event in Washington, D.C., promoting a new anti-Zionist book called Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism.
History of Hate: Dyke Marchers Rae Gaines, Jill Raney and IfNotNow
Gaines and Raney, meanwhile, are dedicated activists with IfNotNow, another “intersectional” anti-Zionist group. They were both among a group of IfNotNow protesters who, angry that Senator Ben Cardin had not condemned Israel’s latest defensive strikes on Hamas operatives attempting to breach the border in 2018, blocked entry into the senator’s office. Gaines and four others were briefly detained.
Though IfNotNow insists that it is a Jewish group with Jewish members, and that the protesters were Jews, a video the organization posted of the Ben Cardin protest (below) clearly shows the participation of notorious Islamist activist Taher Herzallah, who serves as an associate director for the group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). At a 2014 AMP conference, Herzallah reportedly declared, “Israelis have to be bombed.”Meanwhile, IfNotNow trumpeted Gaines’ arrest in a press release, quoting her demand that Senator Cardin “live up to both progressive and Jewish values” and condemn Israel’s use of “live fire.” (Though, of course, Gaines did not cite a single Jewish source or value that forbids self-defense.)
Raney, for her part, recently published an interview with the organization, in which she justified Dyke March’s exclusionary policies by claiming, “We show up for others. We stand with other movements, such as those working for racial, economic, and gender justice.”
Horowitz, Gaines, and Raney, the Dyke March, Linda Sarsour, and their allies may all imagine themselves as intersectional revolutionaries who will go down in history as having fought for justice. But, in reality, they stand with oppressive regimes over open ones, defend double-standards over equality, advocate against the interests of LGBTQ+ people in the Middle East, and castigate and exclude anyone who disagrees with them.
History will remember them and their organizations as what they are: bigots, advocates of oppression, and false prophets waving an “intersectionality” flag that they have rendered meaningless.
Samantha Mandeles is Senior Researcher and Outreach Director at the Legal Insurrection Foundation.DONATE
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