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
For press inquiries, contact Tyler Gregory