NEW YORK CITY (JTA) –About a dozen Zionist feminist activists participated in SlutWalk Chicago despite opposition to their presence.The new Zioness group had announced that it would join in the annual demonstration Saturday, Aug. 12, against sexual violence to promote the idea that Zionism and progressive values are compatible.
SlutWalk Chicago organizers said prior to the march that they did not support the Zioness initiative’s participation. “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 women joined a rally ahead of the march in a local park. According to reports, they carried signs depicting a woman wearing a Star of David necklace and in some cases wore rainbow-colored T-shirts emblazoned with a Star of David. When they waved their signs, other SlutWalk participants blocked them from view with the red umbrellas they were carrying as a 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 and others dropped out 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 replica of Donald Trump’s head. Toward the end of the march, some participants scuffled with police, leading to five arrests.
SlutWalk organizers initially said 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.
Prior to the event, 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.”