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Israeli-American LGBT reception disrupted by anti-Israel protesters

(RNS) In Chicago, pro-Palestinian protesters say Israeli and American gay Jews should be ashamed to support Israel.

Revelations-Series-Banner-770x150(RNS) About 200 anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted a post-Shabbat reception of Israeli and American Jews at a Chicago LGBT conference this past weekend.

The protesters chanted anti-Israel slogans in the hallway outside the gay Jewish community’s gathering at the Chicago Hilton, the venue for a major conference sponsored by the National LGBTQ Task Force.

“We’re going to challenge these Zionist, racist mother ******s!” yelled a protester captured in a video of the Friday (Jan 22) event.

Several protesters took the reception stage, drowning out speakers on a program co-hosted by A Wider Bridge — an American group that aims to foster connections with Israeli gays — and Jerusalem Open House, an Israeli gay rights group.

The protesters accused the reception organizers of “pinkwashing” — highlighting progress for gays in Israel to draw attention away from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.

The Anti-Defamation League decried the protesters’ “chilling words of hate and intimidation.”

“The protesters’ actions and messages reflect a dramatic lack of understanding about the right of LGBTQ people to not be defined by the political conflicts of their country and negates the essential work of Jerusalem Open House, a community organization that serves Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Muslims and Christians alike,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

The National LGBTQ Task Force organizers had earlier canceled the reception after pro-Palestinian activists argued that A Wider Bridge engages in pinkwashing and should not be permitted to participate.  But organizers decided to go ahead with it after objections from those who said it unfairly singled out Jewish gays.

(Lauren Markoe is a national reporter for RNS)