Pride parades are some of the most inclusive events one could participate in. That is, unless you display your Jewish faith at a pride parade in Chicago.
At the alternative pride parade Chicago Dyke March, participants were kicked out for holding rainbow pride flags emblematized with a Jewish star, or Star of David, to highlight the intersection of LGBT identities and Judaism. Parade organizers said the people were removed because the march is a pro-Palestine environment, and a Jewish star can be regarded as a sign of Zionism and Palestinian occupation.
The events that took place Sunday, though, send a clear message: If you’re Jewish, and you put that Jewishness on display, you are not welcome.
While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will always cause tensions, conflating a religious symbol with a foreign government’s actions is wrong. The march is billed as a more inclusive event than traditional pride parades, yet ironically was the only event held during pride celebrations that outwardly excluded people because of their use of a religious symbol. We have to recognize that the people who took these anti-Semitic actions were largely the same people who will rally against the alt-right, and any sort of Muslim travel ban. But what they did is no better.
As a Jewish college student, I’ve seen liberal groups on my George Washington University campus argue that university ties to Israel makes Palestinian students and pro-Palestine students feel unsafe. But many times, that conversation turns into Jewish students being told that they are responsible for these feelings. Regardless of anyone’s take on Israeli-Palestinian relations, a person shouldn’t be targeted or forced to answer for something because of his or her religion. Those on the alt-right are wrong to burden all Muslims with the actions of terrorist Muslim groups. And those on the extreme left are wrong to discriminate against Jews because of Israel’s politics.
A Jewish star represents a faith, not a country. And we should be allowed to march with that faith on display, especially at an event that celebrates inclusion.
Melissa Holzberg is an intern with Newsday Opinion.