Lexico, powered by Oxford, has this as its second definition of the word Pride: “Confidence and self-respect as expressed by members of a group, typically one that has been socially marginalized, on the basis of their shared identity, culture, and experience” and the following for its first definition of the word Discrimination, “The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.” Religious identity, we all know, is another category by which people and institutions discriminate. This past week, while we’ve also seen peoples come together to march, we’ve also sadly seen both pride and discrimination co-exist in the same space.
This is the story of four very, very different marches.
In Tel Aviv, Neil Patrick Harris will serve as the international ambassador to the Middle East’s largest Pride parade later this week in what is often called the most gay-friendly city. Last year’s parade set a record, drawing over a quarter million attendees, with visitors from all over the world. It is known as a party to which all are welcome. Complete acceptance.
This year’s Pride parade in Jerusalem brought a mix of interesting stories. Very strikingly was this moving account of an ultra-Orthodox woman who took her children to the parade, not to condemn, but to show support and love – and to teach her children to do the same. I also read Muhammed Zoabi’s Facebook post expressing appreciation for the parade and the way community support has impacted his life and his family. Zoabi is an Israeli Arab who had to go into hiding because of death threats when, as a teenager he publicly supported Israel. He later went on to serve in the IDF and attend university. He is also openly gay. And in his post was able to convey how, this year, he has finally been able to hear the words from relatives that he never thought he’d hear, “We accept and love you,” which, he says, wouldn’t have happened without the support he receives elsewhere. On the other hand, four years after an attendee was stabbed to death, security is still paramount. Over 2,000 undercover and plainclothes police ensured the 10,000-15,000 revelers were safe; a few dozen arrests were made. Perhaps more disturbing to me, during a parade meant to celebrate their shared identity pride, some found it necessary to boo the presence of Amir Ohana, a Likud member and Israel’s first openly gay cabinet member, because of political differences.
Far further along the spectrum of intolerance lies the Washington D.C. Dyke March. Back in 2017, the Chicago Dyke March ejected those flying a Jewish star pride flag. The star, the symbol of the Jewish religion, also appears on the flag of Israel, and in taking a pro-Palestinian stance, the march was decidedly anti-Israel. (As I’ve explained, this stance is extremely unhelpful. One can be both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel, and as I wrote in the context of another march, anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic). The following year, the parade was even more blatant. In Washington D.C. this year, Jews were told not to fly a Jewish star. The bias inherent in punishing a religion because the organizers disapprove of a country’s leadership – and whose country’s flag while similar, is different – while allowing another group whose government is corrupt and oppressive to fly its actual flag, its nationalist symbol, to me, screams hypocrisy and discrimination. One of the organizers actually saw no issue with wearing a Jewish star as a religious symbol around her neck while justifying its ban as a national symbol in the parade. Pride with discrimination is not inclusive. This piece, by Hen Mazzig, Israeli Mizrahi writer and LGBTQ+ activist, is a must read for getting a better understanding of how hurtful and hypocritical it is for those who hide behind a pro-Palestinian position to use an anti-Israel excuse to exclude Jews. Zionesses and others also recognize that “anti-Semitism distracts from and destroys movements.” Together with others, they counter-protested in Washington D.C.; their signage, to me, spoke volumes: “Let My People March.” LGBT news site back2stonewall stated it well too, “If this is what ‘QUEER’ really is. Perhaps those out there that call themselves and identify as ‘queer’ might want to think twice about that.”
Lastly, the Detroit Pride march had hate on full display. The National Socialist Movement, which I wrote about last year, expressed hate towards those marching in Pride. The police, instead of focusing on protecting the marchers as they did in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, caught criticism for appearing to be focused on accompanying the NSM. There are recent stories in the news, too, about police forces whose members include white supremacists. Hate should not be nurtured. The NSM went so far in their hate towards both Jewish and pro-Israel marchers as to urinate on an actual flag of Israel.
What is clear is that discrimination towards Jews comes from multiple places and directions. There should be no pride in that.
This post has been updated to include mention of and a link to Hen Mazzig’s heartfelt essay.