Has Creating Change taken on a New Meaning: Does that Change involve LGBTQ America Supporting Anti Semitism?
By Melanie Nathan, January 21, 2016.
This week will go down in history as one of the saddest and most destructive, ever, in the lives of LGBTQ Jews. We became the target of antisemitism disguised as protesting alleged “Israeli oppression.” Anyone who truly understands the history, the context and milieu will clearly access the bottom line and that came in the form of the chant that served to helm the onslaught by LGBTQ protesters at the Creating Change 2016 Conference, who yelled:
” From the river to the sea Palestine will be free.”
The chant reverberated through the halls of the Hilton Hotel in Chicago, as protesters eventually blocked access to attendees at a peaceful, all inclusive, religious Shabbat reception, held by A Wider Bridge (AWB) and to which Israeli LGBTQ guests had been invited.
Creating Change is an annual LGBTQ conference held by the National LGBTQ Task Force, a prominent LGBT organization based in Washington D.C. and led by Executive Director, Rea Carey. The organization notes that the purpose of the conference is for LGBTQ liberation, and that its intention is to be all inclusive.
Ironically the only LGBTQ liberation in the Middle East is fostered by Israel, often serving as a sanctuary for Palestinian LGBT who have been expelled from their homes and hunted by Hamas and Palestinian authority members, who believe gays should die for being gay!
At the beginning of this week we received the shocking news that National LGBTQ Task Force, with mere days to the event, cancelled the AWB Jewish religious event to be held at the Conference. The Shabbat ceremony and reception was then moved by AWB to a different venue. However after an enormous outcry from many people in the LGBT community, including prominent LGBT community leaders and activists, Rea Carey apologized for what she called a “mistake” and the Task Force reinstated the event. That story can be read HERE.
However, it seems that knowing protests were likely, Rea Carey and Creating Change failed to protect the Jewish participants and the protests led to bedlam. I am wondering if this protest was allowed to get out of control so that Carey could justify what she had stated in her initial excuse for cancelling the event? If it is true that Task Force had received threats that the event would be disrupted, then why was Task Force and Creating Change not prepared for what occurred? It is one thing to protest; it is another to call for the death of fellow LGBT Jews. It is one thing to proclaim a safe space for all; it another to allow it to be anything but a safe space for some. It is one thing to invite all voices; it is another to shut some down!
The protesters were not interested in dialogue, because if they were, surely they would have allowed the Jews and their guests a peaceful Shabbat and then attended the forum Creating Change asserts it had established for people to discuss their views on the issues at hand. Or at the very least protested in a respectful manner.
Chicago publication, Windy City Times wrote a flagrantly biased Article about the event, by failing to interview Jewish LGBT activists, to counter the radical assertions made by those quoted, which interviews all came across as ignorant, biased and anti-Semitic. The video used, and many others floating around the internet, serve as evidence of the antisemitism.
However, Windy City Times did quote Arthur Slepian, (not Slebian) the Executive Director of A Wider Bridge, about the disruption and not the issues:
“The crowd gathered outside the reception as guests tried to make their way in. A few protesters entered the room just as introductions were being made. The guests from Jerusalem Open House did not make their presentation…….
Creating Change rules dictate that anyone with a conference lanyard can be admitted to any session. The protesters stayed in the gathering space for the entire time, according to AWB Executive Director Arthur Slepian.
“We got our guests from Jerusalem out of there very quickly, to ensure their safety,” he said, adding, “We came here with a message we wanted to bring, and I think there are lessons to be learned here. What happened tonight was contrary to all the important liberal values our society holds dear. I also felt there was a strong undercurrent of anti-semitism.”
In a separate statement put out by AWB, Slepian noted:
“Last night the values of free speech and respectful communication that we all value and that should be the hallmark of the Creating Change conference were replaced by a disgraceful authoritarian-like action that seeks to silence the voices of anyone the protestors feel don’t adhere to their rigid dogma.”
Lies and gross distortions about A Wider Bridge and Israel were being repeated throughout the conference and at the protest.
Initially when cancelling the event, Task Force cited security concerns. It was clear that they had been threatened and protests were likely. But what did the organization do to protect the Jewish group and its guests when all hell broke loose and guests were denied entry or had to be shuttled out quickly for their safety?
I am not going to get into the merits of any arguments for or against Israel. And I do have a lot to say about the bogus notion of “Pinkwashing.” I am going to reserve that for later. Because the bottom line of what occurred is in that one chant – which says it all. I will say that from the chants and behavior of the protesters, all possible accusations against Israel fall by the wayside, when the chants call for the destruction of Israel and in effect all Jews. And that is what those protesters did, evidenced by the video at hand.
It was clear they were not interested in the all inclusive dialogue to which they had been invited. It was also clear that their purpose was not only to disrupt the event, but also to make it known that they did not believe the State of Israel should exist at all and that all Jews should be driven into the sea. I imagine they are clever enough to realize that includes tens of thousands of LGBTQI Jews in Israel including many Jews of color, and Palestinians and Arab LGBTI in Israel too.
In effect those LGBT chanters were there to voice the mission of Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and other known terrorist groups with the chant :
“ From the river to the sea Palestine will be free.”
Yes, that would mean free of gays too! The intended mission of Hamas and Hezbollah -What a bunch of hypocritical idiots! And Task Force and Hilton Hotels provided the platform.
This known chant that denotes the desire to drive all Jews into the sea, in effect is a genocidal chant that includes the only tiny bit of LGBTQ liberation in the Middle East. That is why they were there, to call for the death of Jews and Israel, and Task Force, through its failure to keep the space safe, was at best negligently complicit: Here is one comments I saw on Facebook by John Becker, a well known LGBT personality and equality activist:
“Assuming they mean the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, this chant would suggest that they do not support a two-state solution that preserves a vibrant, stable, and independent Jewish homeland. This is unacceptable and bigoted, and I’m disturbed and disgusted that this kind of anti-Semitism is embraced by some of my fellow LGBT progressives.”
While we here in America applaud and make room for protest, given the context, this crossed a line and should not have been allowed.
My own comment on Social media:
“The take over of Creating Change – an LGBT conference – by other outside agendas is disconcerting. It is a misuse of the event that Task Force should be able to control. The LGBT agenda should be at the fore of such event and those there for that purpose should be protected. Lack of control requires some serious revisiting about the event and its purpose. Those in charge should be accountable. No protest should ever be so seriously divisive to the point of it being unsafe to be in an LGBTQ space that was designed for all LGBTQ participate in.
I wonder how many of those protesters have ever lifted a finger to help a single LGBTI Palestinian who needed shelter and protection when escaping the wrath of parents and local authorities (Hamas) – just for being gay! Well I know many Israelis and Jews who have done just that! How many of those protesters have called on Hamas or ISIS or the Saudis or Egyptians or the Iranians to stop targeting their LGBT citizens for torture, arrest and death?
But they will call for the death of Jews who have fought off their own religious extremists in the Knesset to attain a large measure of equality for Israel’s vibrant LGBTI community. The only sense I can make of this is pure anti-semitism.
The USA LGBT community must ask for accountability from The National LGBTQ Task Force, with regard to the entire genesis and evolution of this tragedy and also insist on an explanation from Hilton Hotels.
Some in the Jewish Community are calling for Rea Carey’s resignation.
I do not agree with that at this point and I also do not agree with A Wider Bridge giving them a pass on this – as future events in our community are at stake. I would like a full report with full disclosure, to include all relevant communications prior to and during the event. I think LGBT Jewish America is owed this!
This could lead to new rules in place – finding ways to embrace our ever evolving issues while keeping this event well within its mission. Failing such, I anticipate the days of Creating Change may well be over! I do not know any sponsor who would want to be actively involved next year to endorse a cry for the destruction of Israel.
Anyone who is interested in forming a coalition to look further into this, is welcome to contact me at Commissionermnathan@gmail.com
By Melanie Nathan, Executive Director, The African Human Rights Coalition,
FULL STATEMENT FROM A WIDER BRIDGE added at 2.43 PM 1/21/2016:
Statement from A Wider Bridge
Our program last night featuring Jerusalem Open House (JOH) was an important victory for A Wider Bridge, as more than 100 people came to our reception at Creating Change to learn about our work and to hear from the leaders of JOH.
Sadly, part way through the reception, a handful of anti-Israel protestors entered the room and later commandeered the stage, denying the leaders of JOH the opportunity to tell their powerful story to the more than 100 participants, Jews and non Jews, who had assembled inside after JOH showed its powerful video. In the hallway outside our program, about 200 protestors blocked many others from entering the room, and turned the LGBT Task Force’s conference and the Hilton Hotel into a fire storm of hate that felt truly unsafe and threatening to many of our participants, and especially to our Israeli guests.
These remarkable LGBT leaders from Israel, who do great work in the very diverse and challenging city of Jerusalem, had spent the last six months helping their community heal and recover from the trauma of a barbaric act of anti-gay violence at last summer’s Jerusalem Pride March. They expected to be supported and embraced by the U.S. LGBT community at Creating Change. Instead, the protestors denied their humanity and silenced their voices, and the conference tragically did little to provide for their safety and security.
Last night the values of free speech and respectful communication that we all value and that should be the hallmark of the Creating Change conference were replaced by a disgraceful authoritarian-like action that seeks to silence the voices of anyone the protestors feel don’t adhere to their rigid dogma.
Lies and gross distortions about A Wider Bridge and Israel were being repeated throughout the conference and at the protest. We look forward to working with the leadership of the Task Force to ensure that Creating Change can be a welcoming and safe space for LGBT people, Jews and non-Jews, who care about Israel.
We will never be dissuaded from building bridges between the LGBTQ communities of North America and Israel.
Executive Director, A Wider Bridge
VIDEO ON YOU TUBE BY WINDY CITY TIMES from 3.40 the genocidal chant starts. It includes chants of “Ho Ho Wider Bridge must go” and leads into a chant of “SHUT IT DOWN” and “FIGHT BACK.”
In the meantime, here are the Board of Directors: I wonder how many of them applaud what happened at Creating Change 2016 and how many are abhorred by the takeover?
Board of Directors, National LGBTQ Task Force
Robert W. Baird, Inc.
Read Mary’s Bio
Miami Beach, FL
Read Roger’s Bio
Director of Leadership & Partnership Initiatives
Third Sector New England
Read Hez’s Bio
Squire Patton Boggs, LLP
New York, NY
Read Suman’s Bio
Media Marketing Manager
Read Sydney’s Bio
Marsha C. Botzer
Read Marsha’s Bio
Fortis Development Group
Miami Beach, FL
Read Brad’s Bio
Miami Beach, FL
Read Liebe’s Bio
Rev. J. Bennett Guess
Executive Minister, United Church of Christ
Read Bennett’s Bio
Senior Partner, RULESEVEN
Engineering Director, Research Organization at Google
San Francisco, CA
Read Rose’s Bio
Read Jeffery’s Bio
Law Office of Naomi E. Metz
Santa Rosa, CA
Read Naomi’s Bio
Karin J. Mitchell
Johnson, Graffe, Keay, Moniz & Wick, LLP
Read Karin’s Bio
Vice President, Programs and Loans
Marin Community Foundation
Read Sandra’s Bio
University of Washington
Read Shilpen’s Bio
David J. Price
Miami Beach, FL
Read David’s Bio
Color of Change
New York, NY
Read Rashad’s Bio
New York, NY
Read Andrew’s Bio
Senior Program Officer
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Read Ken’s Bio
Deputy Director of Policy & Community Relations
Found Animals Foundation
Los Angeles, CA
Read Vince’s Bio
National Action Council
Over the years, the Task Force has had a number of incredible advocates and supporters who have been committed above all others in helping the Task Force achieve its mission of building grassroots power for the LGBT community. The National Action Council recognizes these individuals who have been so critical to the organization.
Read Sue’s Bio
Vice President, Marketing
Showtime Networks Inc.
Los Angeles, CA
Director of Boards & Commissions
Office of Mayor Michael Hancock
Read Anthony’s Bio
President & CEO
Magpie Software Services Corp.
Read Margaret’s Bio
Pridelines Youth Services
Read Victor’s Bio
Director, Gay and Immigrant Rights Programs
Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund
San Francisco, CA
Read Matt’s Bio
McKinsey and Company
Legislative Affairs Director
SEIU Local 1000
Read Cordey’s Bio
Manager, Retail Sales
Kiehl’s Since 1851
Miami Beach, FL
Read Chad’s Bio
Lee H. Rubin
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Read Lee’s Bio
Read Christopher’s Bio
Michelle J. Stecker, Ph.D., J.D.
Lucy Cross Center for Women at Rollins College
Winter Park, FL
Read Michelle’s Bio
Multicultural Organizational Development
Read Beth’s Bio