Zionist group shunned at SlutWalk Chicago

Using red umbrellas, activists block the signs being held by Zioness Movement members, who leave the march early in protest

Jewish Voice for Peace representative Scout Bratt speaks at the SlutWalk Chicago rally on August 12, 2017. (Screen capture/YouTube)
Jewish Voice for Peace representative Scout Bratt speaks at the SlutWalk Chicago rally on August 12, 2017. (Screen capture/YouTube)

About a dozen activists from the Zioness Movement attempted to participate in SlutWalk Chicago on Saturday amidst protests from organizers.

The group, which calls itself progressive and Zionist, had announced prior to the demonstration that they would join in the annual SlutWalk against sexual violence to promote the idea that Zionism and liberal values are compatible.

SlutWalk Chicago organizers said prior to the march that they did not support the participation of the new Zioness initiative.

“SlutWalk Chicago does not support the ‘Zioness progressives’ planning on coming to the walk Saturday. We at SlutWalk Chicago stand with Jewish people, just as we stand for Palestinian human rights. Those two ideologies can exist in the same realm, and taking a stance against anti-Semitism is not an affirmation of support for the state of Israel and its occupation of Palestine,” the group wrote on its Facebook page.

“We oppose all oppressive governments whether they be the United States or Israel, as we recognize these regimes often disproportionately oppress women and femmes. We find it disgusting that any group would appropriate a day dedicated to survivors fighting rape culture in order to promote their own nationalist agenda,” the post also said.

The women joined the initial rally in a local park, carrying signs depicting a woman wearing a Star of David necklace and some wearing rainbow-colored T-shirts emblazoned with a Star of David, according to reports. During the rally, when the Zioness women waved their signs, SlutWalk participants would block them from view with the red umbrellas they were carrying, the symbol of solidarity with sex workers.

At the end of the speeches, which concluded with a Palestinian activist telling the crowd “you cannot be a Zionist and feminist,” the crowd began chanting “Free Palestine,” the Windy City Times reported.

The Zioness participants as well as others dropped off during the march through downtown Chicago, according to the Windy City Times. The march reportedly started with about 150 women and ended with about 60.

In front of Trump Tower marchers stopped to destroy a head of Donald Trump. Toward the end of the march, some participants scuffled with police, leading to the arrest of five marchers.

Organizers of the SlutWalk initially said that they would ban Stars of David from the event, but later altered their policy to allow religious symbols but not national flags.

The SlutWalk policy came in the wake of a controversy over the Chicago Dyke March in June, when three Jewish participants at the LGBTQ demonstration were ejected for carrying LGBTQ Pride flags adorned with the Star of David. Dyke March organizers said the women were advocating for Israel at an anti-Zionist event.

On Friday, SlutWalk Chicago released a statement titled “Palestinian Rights are a Feminist Cause.”

“As a feminist, transnational movement calling for an end to rape culture, we march in solidarity with all Palestinians suffering the impact of the State of Israel’s brutal policies. The reasons for this are simple. In the words of Linda Sarsour, one of the architects of the 2017 Women’s March who also organized A Day Without a Woman, ‘You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none.’ In a nutshell, women’s rights are human rights,” the statement said.

“If the rights of Palestinians are degraded by the State of Israel’s policies across the whole territory they control – including the West Bank as well as Gaza, where Israel controls all entry and exit in this tenth year of military blockade – the treatment of Palestinian women is particularly dehumanizing,” the statement also said.

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