As an organization dedicated to uplifting the needs of Black people and people of color existing at the margins of the margins, For the People Artists Collective (FTP) applauds the decision of Dyke March Chicago (DMC) to protect Palestinian participants of the march by removing a group of openly Zionist marchers from yesterday’s event in La Villita.
As artists and cultural organizers, we know that visuals are incredibly communicative tools that have the power to both help and harm us. Imagery that either intentionally or unintentionally invokes Zionism without any attempt to acknowledge or subvert those visual associations only serve to bolster support for Israel.
On June 24, a group of marchers at Dyke March carrying rainbow flags with a blue six-pointed star* in the center were approached and engaged by both Palestinian and Jewish anti-Zionist participants of the march. These individuals wanted to find out more about the intention behind the flags, as they are often seen at Israeli pride parades, are widely used in pinkwashing efforts, and were visually reminiscent of the Israeli flag due to the color and placement of the star*.
When the group began defending the state of Israel and Zionism as a whole, it became clear that the political position of the marchers was at odds with the anti-racist and anti-Zionist ethos of Dyke March Chicago. It also came to light that one of the individuals was a leader in A Wider Bridge, a Zionist organization whose participation at the Creating Change conference in Chicago was protested in 2016 for ties to right-wing Israeli interest groups and the Israeli government.
During an extended conversation during which Dyke March organizers and Jewish anti-Zionist attendees engaged the group, the marchers repeatedly expressed support for Zionism. Because of this, they were asked to leave by DMC organizers, and eventually did so.
In movements for justice and liberation, there is no room for Zionism of any kind. It is a racist and colonialist ideology that rationalizes violence against Black and brown people, particularly Palestinians. It is also an ideology that justifies violence toward Queer and Trans Palestinians while simultaneously touting Israel as a safe haven for LGBT rights in the Middle East. We know very well that there are no LGBT rights for those living under daily military occupation and violence.
For all of these reasons, FTP Artists Collective stands in solidarity with the organizers of Dyke March Chicago for taking concrete action steps to make their ideological position a tangible reality.
*We recognize and affirm that the Star of David is a Jewish symbol and not inherently connected to Israel or Zionism. As Ronen Shnidman has pointed out, the Zionist movement adopted the Star of David as its emblem in 1897. The cooptation of the star of David by the state of Israel, is deeply saddening and makes it hard to distinguish between imperialist ideology and non-state, religious belief. We celebrate the reality that Jewish communities, including jews of color and Black jews, are part of our queer and trans communities.
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