70 LGBTQ Leaders Sign on Letter on Israel Inclusion at Halifax Pride

A Wider Bridge applauds the leadership of Member of Parliament Scott Brison (Kings-Hants, Nova Scotia) and all of the undersigned leaders from across Nova Scotia, Canada, and the US for standing up for the Atlantic Jewish Council (AJC) and freedom of speech at Halifax Pride for all LGBT people and allies.

Background:
Anti-Israel groups in Halifax, Nova Scotia are pushing to ban mentions of Israel from Halifax Pride. A Wider Bridge is in Halifax this week to support our local partner, the Atlantic Jewish Council (AJC), the main target of the discriminatory measure. A vote set for Wednesday evening would remove mentions of Israel and the Size Doesn’t Matter campaign from appearing at Halifax Pride next year. A Wider Bridge joins the AJC, CIJA, Liberal and Conservative Members of Canadian Parliament, and LGBT leaders across North America in calling on Halifax Pride to reject such a vote.

Letter to the Board of the Halifax Pride Society

October 1st, 2016

TO: Willem Blois, Chair, Halifax Pride Society

CC: Members of the Board, Halifax Pride Society

We are writing to you as leaders and activists within the LGBTQ+ community from a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. Many of us have long been active in LGBTQ+ advocacy and causes, and reflect in pride at the enormous strides that have been made in securing equality and social acceptance in the past generation.

While there is much work to do, it is an extraordinary sign of progress that our movement’s hallmark event – Pride – has become a place for many beyond our community to celebrate diversity, learn about LGBTQ+ achievements and culture, and stand in solidarity with our continued struggles. We are united in our commitment to ensuring that Pride celebrations remain vibrant, inclusive, and accessible for all – which is why we are writing to you today.

We are deeply concerned about – and totally opposed to – a resolution being brought forward at Halifax Pride’s upcoming annual general meeting (October 5th) regarding the participation of LGBTQ+ Jews and Jewish community organizations at Pride.

We have all read the resolution in question, which claims that references to Israel and the Israeli LGBTQ+ community create, “[a] barrier of [Queer Arabs of Halifax’s] full participation at the Halifax Pride Festival.”

As such, this resolution effectively calls for the complete censorship of any mention of Israel at Halifax Pride. This ultimately excludes most members of the Jewish community – including LGBTQ+ Jews – from celebrating Pride freely and in accordance with their identity.

We are aware that the concerns of Queer Arabs of Halifax and other marginalized LGBTQ+ communities, including LGBTQ+ Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities must be heard, and that our community must come together and do everything we can towards being inclusive to our most vulnerable segments. However, strengthening inclusion for one segment of our community can never be achieved by excluding others. We cannot start drawing lines in the sand when it comes to inclusion.

We therefore ask that Halifax Pride Society consider the following course of action:

Deem any resolution that would have the effect of censoring Pride participants inadmissible for consideration. All LGBTQ+ people and allies, including Queer Jews and Queer Arabs, should feel free to express their identities and political views at Pride;

Adopt a policy that confirms Pride’s commitment to freedom of expression, in keeping with the Halifax Pride Society’s mission to “produce a Pride Festival that is accessible to all” and commitment to the cause of “fostering liaisons and partnerships with all communities (including non-urban and non-queer)”;

Develop ways of engaging individuals from all communities (particularly minority and historically disadvantaged communities) on contentious topics for the purpose of achieving tolerance. In contrast, censorship, exclusion, and divisive resolutions are the antithesis of tolerance and unity.

We applaud your intent to include the voices of your membership in your decision-making about such a sensitive issue. Nevertheless, the resolution slated for consideration on Oct. 5th is unacceptable and in direct violation of the Halifax Pride Society’s aforementioned mission and values. Again, we therefore urge it be deemed inadmissible for consideration.

We close by observing the regrettable fact that, wherever efforts to exclude a community from Pride have taken place, these initiatives have only served to divide members, diminish Pride’s reputation, and distract Pride from its core mission of advancing inclusion and equality. We urge you to take effective steps to ensure that the wonderful movement you have established in Halifax remains true to Pride’s own values.

Sincerely,

The Honourable Scott Brison
President of the Treasury Board
Kings-Hants, Nova Scotia

LGBTory
BJ Dichter, Chairman
Dr. I Lichtenberg, President
Eric Lorenzen
Todd Langis
Yusuf Cheliyan
Viviene Ziner
Aurtur Conway

LGTBQ+ Jewish Leaders In Halifax
Howard Heyman
Schuyler Smith
Sherri Kasten

Ryan Crane, Passageway
Des Moines, Iowa

The Honourable Scott Weiner, San Francisco Board of Supervisors
San Francisco, CA

A Wider Bridge
Bruce Maxwell, Board Chair
Los Angeles, CA

James Moon, Miami Attorney and LGBT Leader
Miami, Florida

The Honourable Ritchie Torres, New York City Council
Bronx, NY

Ga’ava
Justin Margolis, Vice President
Montreal, Quebec

World Congress of GLBT Jews
Frank Giaoui, President
Jonathan Falk, Secretary; Halifax LGBT Jewish Leader

Rabbi Cindy Enger
Evanston, Illinois

Rabbi Zach Shapiro, Temple Akiba of Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA

Yad b’Yad
Jonathan Lerner
Vancouver, British Columbia

Rabbi Shoshanah Conover, Temple Sholom of Chicago
Chicago, IL

Judy Perloff, Chicago House and Social Service Agency
Chicago, IL

Kulanu Toronto
Sheri Krell, Executive Director
Jordan Glass
Melissa Green
Toronto, ON

Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann, Mishkan Chicago
Chicago, IL

Rabbi Avi Strausberg
Temple of Aaron, St. Paul, MN

Canadian LGTBQ Jewish leaders
Melissa Lantsman
Lauren Rakowski
David Belous
Janie Ginsberg
Paul Marai
Jamie Ellerton
Chana Steinberg

Edwards Buice, Am Keshet
Chicago, IL

Rabbi Jeremy Fine, Temple of Aaron
St. Paul, MN

The Honourable Kelly Cassidy, Illinois House of Representatives
Chicago, Illinois

Rabbi Denise L. Eger, President, Conference of American Rabbis
Congregation Kol Ami
Los Angeles, CA

Beth Chayim Chadashim
Rabbi Heather Miller
Rabbi Lisa Edwards
Cantor Juval Porat
Los Angeles, CA

Rabbi Laurence L. Edwards
Congregation Or Chadash
Chicago, IL

Victor Salvo
Founder and Executive Director, the Legacy Project
Chicago, IL

Dana Beyer
Board Chair, Freedom to Work
Chevy Chase, MD

American LGBT Jewish Leaders
Cindy Amberger, Minneapolis, MN
Jeff Goodman, New York, NY

Rabbi Ari Moffic
Director, Interfaith Family Chicago
Chicago, IL

Tony Lima
Executive Director, SAVE
Miami, FL

Mary Stefanidis
Coordinator, Living Learning, University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario

Herb Sosa
Director, Unity Coalition|Coalicion Unida
Miami, FL

Eshel
Miryam Kabakov, Executive Director
New York, NY

Jayson Littman
LGBT Jewish Leader
New York, NY

Alan Reiff: NYC LGBT Human Rights Activist
NYC DEPT of Education ESL Coordinator
New York, NY

Reverend Lynare Robbins
LGBTQ Activist
Miami, FL

Mark Thompson, Vice President, Capalino+Company
New York, NY

The Honourable Ryan Karben, Former New York State Assembly Member
New York, NY

Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City
Bob Zuckerman, Former President
Shlomo Ashkinazy
Juan Rosa
Matthew LeSieur
Matthew Bank
New York, NY

Dirk McCall, President, Powhatan Democratic Club
Former President, Stonewall Democratic Club
New York, NY

Andrew Ronan, Co-Chair, Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee
Queens, NY

Michael C. Brady, Director of Special Projects + Governmental Relations,
South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation
Bronx, NY

Melissa Sklarz
Former Board Co-Chair, Empire State Pride Agenda
New York, NY

Tanya Domi, Columbia University
New York, NY