OP-ED: What is the opposite of pinkwashing?


The news out of Washington, D.C.  this week was not good for the Jewish community. Apparently, pro-Palestinian voices there within the LGBTQ community decided to ban Jewish Magen David symbols on “rainbow” or pride flags in the DC Dyke March.

Like other alternative “pride” marches, the Dyke March is not the Pride March, but another group of queer women who march during Pride Month. A similar dictum occurred in 2017 in the Chicago Slutwalk and in the 2017 and 2018 Chicago Dyke March.

While conflating Jewish symbols with Israeli symbols may be easily understood, permitting the Palestinian flag to be raised and promoted on these marches because it “is a symbol of hope for the Palestinian people” seems to be a clear signal that previously implied anti-Israel fervor within the the LGBTQ community is now full-fledged anti-Semitism.

There is no excuse for this kind of backlash against the State of Israel, which is the only country in the Middle East that provides support and civil rights for members of the LGBTQ community. Anti-Israel and pro-BDS supporters have claimed that to point this out is a form of “pinkwashing,” trumpeting Israel’s pro-LGBTQ support so they can get away with what they consider oppression of the Palestinian people.

That may be the case. Perhaps Israel is guilty of supporting gays and liberals and should just be quiet about it. Okay.

So, if we may make a further suggestion. Let’s get all of the pro-Palestinian marchers who denounce Israel and let them walk down a busy street in Gaza pronouncing their pride. Or make that Saudi Arabia. Or Qatar. Or the United Arab Emirates. We are not being picky here. Find one Middle Eastern country in which LGBTQ marchers can feel safe and where they can easily hold a pride march. We’re pretty certain that Shar’ia Law will trump political freedom every day of the week.

This precedent of many LGBTQ activists – sadly, many from the Jewish community – confusing feminism with pro-Palestinian stances at the denigration of Israel continues to amaze us in its utter illogic. Israel is not perfect, but to group all Jews who hold a “Jewish pride” flag in a march as being supportive of its policies is wrong.

But to be fair, if Israeli symbols aren’t allowed because they are nationalistic symbols, then the Palestinian flags should also be outlawed as they represent nationalistic intentions, many of whom deny the right of the State of Israel to exist.

That is wrong. LGBTQ leaders should be vigilant that this kind of vitriol and anti-Israel/anti-Semitic tropes do not rise within the ranks of our own New Orleans Pride March. (We’ve been assured that as of now, that is not the case.) But we need to be aware that what has happened in Chicago and, now, Washington, D.C. can repeat anywhere. We hope our New Orleans LGBTQ community is smarter than that.

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