The Conspiracy

LGBT Jews Are the New Target of Anti-Zionism

At the root of anti-Semitism is the belief that all good things Jews do are for nefarious reasons. There is an emerging belief in the far left that LGBT Jews who are Zionist are doubly guilty of re-branding Israel as a progressive society while covering human rights abuses against Palestinians. The name for this alleged phenomenon is dubbed pinkwashing.

“Gay Jews have been at the forefront of the equality movement.” | via Peter Fox

Most recently three Jewish women were forcefully removed from Chicago’s Dyke March for carrying Jewish pride flags. The official statement from the march claims that “Zionism is an inherently white-supremacist ideology” and therefore anything resembling an Israeli flag must be banned. One does not know whether to laugh or cry at this glaring appeal to ignorance and bigotry. This trend of isolating Jews as pariahs has been gaining momentum, garnering widespread attention, for example, when Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour suggested that Zionists can’t be feminists.

How can anyone take seriously the charge that Israel’s tolerance for LGBT people is a ruse to mask its treatment of Palestinians? Can Israel get credit for anything it does? I have my own criticisms of Israeli government (as do most Israelis), but to conflate tangible issues with conspiracy theories is a form of old-school anti-Semitism.

First of all, there’s an ironic twist to all this. The mistreatment and censorship of LGBT Jews is all the more insulting considering gay Jews have been at the forefront of the equality movement. This exclusion of Jews is a slap in the face to leaders like Harvey Milk, Edie Windsor, and Roberta Kaplan, to name a few, who fought for modern LGBT rights. Kaplan and Windsor, the attorney and plaintiff who defeated the Defense of Marriage Act in the Supreme Court, are both supporters of Israel. People don’t really know their history if they’re degrading the identities of two of the most influential LGBT figures in the equality movement. By this logic, the Dyke March would have to bar admission to these individuals despite being heroes in advancing LGBT equality.

Furthermore, the very assumption that all Zionists support Palestinian oppression in itself is anti-Semitic. More than two-thirds of Israelis support a two-state solution. Just as it would be Islamaphobic to interrogate Muslims about their views on Saudi Arabia’s policies, interrogating Jews on their views of Israel is a form of anti-Semitic profiling.

You also can’t exclude one group of people at the expense of another and claim moral authority. Is that not the very definition of bigotry? The organizers of Chicago’s Dyke March claim to do all this in the name of inclusion and intersectionality. Their inclusive mindset, however, is only welcome to people who conform to their strict dogma. Liberal space used to be an atmosphere for diverse thought. Now it’s only open to people who look different but think the same.

“You can’t exclude one group of people at the expense of another and claim moral authority.” | via Peter Fox

If the Dyke March values advocating for global human rights, they do their own movement a disservice by putting so much focus on Israel. There are other humanitarian crises that need the LGBT community’s attention, like the gay people of Chechnya who are being systematically killed and tortured in concentration camps while the world does nothing to stop it. If they want to stand up for oppressed peoples, they would need a much longer list of countries to condemn, including most of Africa, the Middle East, China, and numerous other countries that have anti-LGBT laws and engage in forms of military occupation of subordinate nations. This seems like overt targeting of one of the world’s smallest minorities and a far too narrow interpretation of intersectionality.

How exactly pinkwashing works isn’t made clear. If waving Jewish Pride flags and holding Israeli Pride parades are part of an insidious propaganda plot, it’s clearly not working. And furthermore, the implication that Jews only do good things with selfish motives is at the core of anti-Semitism. The next time Israel sends help to tsunami victims will Israel’s critics accuse the country of trying to capitalize on a tragedy? When will this slew of conspiracies end? Have anti-Zionists ever considered that a country can have great achievements while also having many shortcomings?

Groups like the Chicago Dyke March are distorting the definition of Zionism to mean something that it’s not. Zionism does not imply blind support for Israeli government any more than American patriotism assumes support for all of America’s policies and its treatment of minorities. By this logic, any American marching in a pride parade would be guilty of supporting the deportation of Mexicans and the travel ban on Muslims. This is certainly not the case in America, and it’s not the case in Israel either. Pride parades are the one day a year you’re free to dance in the streets and celebrate individuality. That’s all it is.

This past week, I marched in New York’s pride parade with a coalition of Jewish groups including Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, Jewish Queer Youth, and A Wider Bridge. There was something empowering about a group of LGBT Jews marching down 5th Avenue in solidarity as double minorities. We’re proud to be Jewish and we’re proud to be queer.

I marched with a rainbow star of David flag, and not once did anyone tell me they felt threatened. To the contrary, I received many cheers and compliments. One Middle Eastern man even came up to me and gave me a big hug. I asked him, “Do you have a thing for Jews or something?” And to my surprise, he said, “Of course! I love Jews. I’m Muslim.” If that doesn’t illustrate unity, I don’t know what does. To most of the people around me that day, my flag signaled a sense of validation and acceptance. It was a threat to nobody, but rather a symbol of unity and pride, and that’s something worth celebrating.

Peter Fox is a student at Miami Ad School. Follow him on Twitter @thatpeterfox.

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One Older Response to “LGBT Jews Are the New Target of Anti-Zionism”

  1. Jennifer Tidd
    July 4, 2017 at 8:02 am #

    69% of Jewish Israelis descend from Arab countries on the Arab peninsula or Northern Africa, countries where over 800K indigenous Jews were forced to leave. 20% of the Israeli population furthermore, are Muslims of Arab descent. Thus, Israel is a vastly majority brown and black nation. The fact that the “intersectional” movement describes this as an issue of white supremacy shows they don’t know the history or geo-politics of the area or the Zionist movement, which is merely the Jewish liberation movement.

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