June 7, 2019

Jewish Voice for Peace - DC Metro Statement of Solidarity with the DC Dyke March

As a Jewish organization dedicated to building a world where everyone, from Washington, DC to Jerusalem, is treated with dignity and equality, Jewish Voice for Peace - DC Metro (JVP DC) stands in solidarity with the DC Dyke March as they face attacks from much of the pro-Israel Jewish community.

While some individuals, organizations, and publications are spreading misinformation about a supposed ban of Jewish symbols at the DC Dyke March, Yael Horowitz, one of its Jewish organizers, states that their policy actually affirms the opposite: “Jewish stars and other identifications and celebrations of Jewishness (yarmulkes, talit, other expressions of Judaism or Jewishness) are welcome and encouraged.” Organizers of the March, like Horowitz, have explicitly said that pro-Israel paraphernalia are prohibited, but that Jewish symbols are welcome. The DC Dyke March is not actually banning the Star of David, but is prohibiting flags that specifically reference the State of Israel, which depicts a large Star of David centered in front of horizontal stripes. Furthermore, while a Star of David is not exclusively a symbol of the State of Israel, its association with violence, displacement, and racism for so many—particularly many Palestinians—serves as a stark reminder of the destructive impact of Zionism’s use of Jewish symbols.

DC Dyke March’s restrictions around displays of pro-Israel paraphernalia are in line with narratives countering pinkwashing, when companies or states use pro-LGBTQ+ messaging in order to promote their own interests and obscure other conservative or repressive policies they support. Opposing pinkwashing is part of a broader set of commitments to not allow powerful and conservative institutions to abuse progressive values to promote their public image. DC Dyke March isn’t suppressing Jewish pride, it’s opposing pinkwashing. Illuminating and resisting pinkwashing is at the core of alternative Pride events across the world, as many official Pride events are sponsored by corporations, which more often than not support conservative policies that harm LGBTQ+ populations. This stance against pinkwashing is in line with Dyke March’s broader history as a demonstration that centers the political needs unmet by the mainstream Gay Rights movement.

DC Dyke March's theme this year is "Dykes Against Displacement." With this theme, DC Dyke March is centering those most impacted by homophobic, misogynist, and state violence, namely LGBTQ+ people of color who face displacement and homelessness at much higher rates than average. Accordingly, since DC Dyke March believes affordable housing is a LGBTQ+ issue, it follows that institutions that further displacement, locally and globally, would not be allowed at their event. Representations of, or in support of, corporations, police departments, and US and Israeli governments are not permitted because those institutions contribute to displacement, from LGBTQ+ people of color in D.C. to LGBTQ+ Palestinians in Israel/Palestine. To be clear, Israelis and Jews are welcome at the Dyke March, as it is committed to being an inclusive space for all who identify as dykes.

At JVP DC, we understand the pain that comes from being forced to obscure your identity. Our community is made up of people who have faced antisemitism, gender-based violence, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and so many other painful structures of violence. We are further pained to see pro-Israel Jews and Jewish organizations exploit our collective traumas in order to smear the DC Dyke March. Instead of debating the validity of bringing national flags to DC Dyke March, local community leaders should take this opportunity to confront DC’s dire need for more affordable housing. This act of mudslinging is a distraction from the important work DC Dyke March and its community partners are doing to fight for community safety, affordable housing, harm reduction, and racial and economic equity for everyone across DC.

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Jewish Voice for Peace - DC Metro is a local chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, a national, grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine.