Star of David Still In, but Israeli Flags Now Out at Chicago SlutWalk

'Leave symbols of nationalism and oppression at home,' group now tells participants, while reiterating agreement to displays of faith, rejection of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

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Participant in the Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington, June 11, 2017 (illustrative photo).
Participant in the Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington, in June (illustrative photo).
Taly Krupkin
Taly Krupkin

NEW YORK – Organizers of SlutWalk Chicago will allow display of the Jewish star but are asking people not to bring not only the Israeli flag but also American and other national flags, as well as any other “symbols of oppression,” at their annual event on August 12. 

In an announcement on its official Facebook page on Monday, the group has further detailed the new policy first unveiled in a Haaretz interview on Friday, when SlutWalk Chicago organizer Red asserted that they “are not banning any symbols or any kind of ethnic or heritage flags” and welcome participants carrying Jewish symbols.

Red added that SlutWalk “has some apologizing to do” for earlier tweets relating to the display of Zionist symbols.

“The Star of David is welcome at our event, just as all symbols of faith and heritage are welcome,” organizers now say. While display of the Jewish symbol is still permitted, now participants are specifically being asked to refrain from bringing any national flags. 

“Some of the biggest perpetrators of rape culture are state governments, which not only create conditions for these oppressions but actively enforce them through unjust laws and practices," the new announcement stated. "We want to unite all oppressed people by fighting back against the forces of injustice, not divide people by the borders that we oppose as an anti-state collective that stands against the fear and divisions fomented by nationalism.”

It added, “Bring symbols of resistance, but leave symbols of nationalism and oppression at home.”

“Let us be clear,” the group reiterated on Monday, “We are as firmly against anti-Semitism as we are against Islamophobia.”

Responding to a Haaretz request for clarification, SlutWalk Chicago stated that, “because we an anti-state collective, we ask that people not bring the flags of any governments/nations, whether that be the U.S., Israel, or any other state. As we said in our statement, we recognize that governments are inherently oppressive, particularly in terms of the ways in which they uphold rape culture and patriarchy.”

The organization also apologized for its initial response to tweets by persons pressing for the display of religious and other Jewish symbols at the event, and said: “Our collective has not handled the situation as well as we could have, and we have things to apologize for, specifically, the blocking of Jewish activists asking if they would be welcome to display Stars of David at the march.

"We are working to correct this by unblocking the people who were asking legitimate questionsWe also apologize for two retweets posted to the SlutWalk twitter last weekend that stated that the Magen David was always a Zionist symbol and could not be claimed as a symbol of Jewish pride outside of the context of Zionism.” 

Added the organizers in their Facebook post: “This is not a position that we as a collective stand behind, the person responsible for the retweets has removed themselves from the group, and we are no longer organizing with them pending an accountability process.”

This year’s march sparked weeks of controversy following SlutWalk Chicago’s announcement that Zionist Symbols are banned from the event. The announcement was made following the controversy at the Chicago Dyke March in June, when three women were asked to leave the march for carrying rainbow flags with the Star of David. 

SlutWalk Chicago is one of the oldest SlutWalk events in the United States, and draws hundreds of participants annually to protest rape culture, sexual harassment and patriarchy. It describes itself, among other things, as being anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-transphobic, antifascist, anti-imperialist and pro-queer.

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