Dykes vs Jews

For those unfamiliar with the Chicago Dyke March Collective (CDMC), it is, according to its website, ‘a grassroots mobilisation and celebration of dyke, queer, bisexual and transgender resilience’. It is an ‘anti-racist, anti-violent, volunteer-led, grassroots effort with a goal to bridge together communities across race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, age, size, gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, culture, immigrant status, spirituality, and ability’.

Sounds like everyone is welcome at CDMC, doesn’t it? But it turns out some people aren’t. At Saturday’s annual Chicago Dyke March, three marchers were asked to leave for carrying Jewish Pride flags – the rainbow flag with a Star of David on it. A CDMC member told the Windy City Times that the women were asked to leave because the flags ‘made people feel unsafe’, and the march was ‘anti-Zionist’ and ‘pro-Palestinian’.

One of the women who was told to leave, Laurel Grauer, said: ‘It was a flag from my congregation which celebrates my queer, Jewish identity which I have done for over a decade, marching in the Dyke March with the same flag.’

CDMC posted an explanation for the expulsions on its Facebook page. ‘This decision was made after they [the Jewish Pride flag carriers] repeatedly expressed support for Zionism during conversations with Chicago Dyke March Collective members. We have since learned that at least one of these individuals is a regional director for A Wider Bridge, an organisation with connections to the Israeli state and right-wing pro-Israel interest groups.’

In case anyone was under any misapprehension, the post went on to say: ‘The Chicago Dyke March Collective is explicitly not anti-Semitic, we are anti-Zionist.’ An addition was later made: ‘We want to make clear that anti-Zionist Jewish volunteers and supporters are welcome at Dyke March.’ Not to worry CDMC, your message is loud and clear: Some Jews are welcome, other Jews are not.

With worrying predictability, it is always the Jews, or at least the ‘wrong’ Jews, who are the first to lose out in the identity-politics bubble. Another Jewish participant, who was asked to leave the march, said: ‘The Dyke March is supposed to be intersectional. I don’t know why my identity is excluded from that. I felt that, as a Jew, I am not welcome here.’

Clearly, intersectionality – where minority groups are subdivided down into social categorisations vulnerable to discrimination, such as race, gender and class – is all well and good until ‘intersectionists’ hit a group they are happy to discriminate against.

The ejection of pro-Israel marchers from the Dyke March neatly encapsulates the authoritarian, censorious nature of so many of these supposedly liberal groups, where ‘everyone’ is welcome so long as they adhere to certain political beliefs. Dissent is not tolerated. And so situations arise where being a proud ‘Dyke’ is not enough for taking part in a gay pride march.

Naomi Firsht is staff writer at spiked and co-author of The Parisians’ Guide to Cafés, Bars and Restaurants. Follow her on Twitter: @Naomi_theFirsht

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