AJC Outraged by Anti-Israel Protests at Creating Change LGBTQ Conference

Jan 24, 2016, 09:16 ET from American Jewish Committee

CHICAGO, Jan. 24, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  AJC is outraged that a pro-Israel LGBTQ organization's peaceful reception at the national Creating Change conference was invaded by hateful protestors, who interrupted the event and threatened people gathered to hear gay rights activists from Jerusalem.

"Groups hostile to Israel, aligned with the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement, have regularly disrupted efforts to tell Israel's story," said Amy Stoken, director of AJC Chicago. "We hope that Chicago government authorities take appropriate steps to punish those who organized and carried out this assault." 

A Wider Bridge, an American organization that builds bridges between LGBTQ North Americans and Israelis, hosted Friday evening a Shabbat service and program that featured representatives of Jerusalem Open House (JOH), a major gay rights group in Israel.

"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," said Arthur Slepian, executive director of A Wider Bridge, said in a statement. "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."

The National LGBTQ Task Force, which hosts the annual Creating Change conference, had canceled the long planned reception last week, but reinstated it after LGBTQ and Jewish leadership across the country spoke out in support of this important event.

"The National LGBTQ Task Force has the commendable mission to advocate for inclusivity, but their handling of A Wider Bridge's reception was disgraceful," said AJC's Stoken. "They have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for all Creating Change conference participants, but the safety and security of Jewish and other pro-Israel participants was shamefully disregarded."

SOURCE American Jewish Committee