Lesbian activists take part in the Dyke March in Washington, DC, US. -AFP
Lesbians marched in Washington on Friday to protest gentrification even as controversy over a ban on a Jewish symbol threatened to overshadow the march, which was returning to the streets after a 12-year break.
Taking place a day before the city's annual Gay Pride parade and attended by hundreds of people in downtown Washington, the "DC Dyke March" was held from 1993 until 2007, returning this year to protest the rising cost of housing in the city.
But controversy emerged when the organizers of the event banned the Jewish pride flag, a rainbow banner bearing the Star of David that they said too closely resembles the Israeli flag and violated the march's ban on "nationalist symbols." The Israeli flag represents "settler colonial government, a lot of violence against Palestinians, a lot of things that I don't want at this march," organizer Yael Horowitz told AFP.
"There are so many other ways that we can represent our Jewishness, we just have to make that choice to be in solidarity with Palestine," said the 24-year-old who "proudly" wears a Star of David around her neck.
Jewish groups condemned the ban, saying it smacked of anti-Semitism and sowed division within the gay community. "Banning the Star of David in their parade is anti-Semitic, plain and simple," said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.Meanwhile the American Jewish Committee asked on Twitter, "How is the (DC Dyke March) inclusive when it excludes Israeli or Jewish Pride flags?"
Friday's Dyke March in Washington was picketed by a handful of protesters but was otherwise calm. The controversy in Washington came two years after Jewish activists were expelled from a lesbian protest in Chicago for sporting the Jewish pride flag, which event organizers had banned in solidarity with Palestinians. The Washington march's decision didn't sit well with the National LGBTQ Task Force.
Executive director Rea Carey said in a statement the advocacy group had withdrawn its partnership with the march after the flag was banned. "The Jewish Pride Flag is a symbol that represents the greater LGBTQ Jewish community," Carey wrote. "We are disappointed that this action distracts from the appropriate and needed focus on (Washington) residents and housing policies that favor gentrification," she said.
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