Anti-Israel float in Pride parade called outrageous

Cinnamon Stillwell was watching television coverage of the June 29 Gay Pride parade, and what she saw made her furious.

So the contributor at Chronwatch, a media watchdog Web site, devoted her June 30 column to it.

International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Raciscm), the national group that organized the anti-war rallies before the United States went to war with Iraq, is aligned with the Socialist Workers World Party. Its float in the parade had a sign that read, "From Stonewall to Palestine."

Stonewall was the name of a gay bar in New York City, where in 1969, its clientele rioted against the police in what's come to be known as the beginning of the gay liberation movement.

Saul Kanowitz, an ANSWER volunteer who coordinated its participation in the parade, said this wasn't the first time the anti-war group drew that parallel.

"The Palestinian people are struggling for self- determination as are lesbian and gay people around the world to live and love as we please," said Kanowitz, who is both Jewish and gay.

Stillwell, who is also Jewish, wrote in her column: "The truth is, the only Palestinians who marched in Gay Pride parades this year did so in Israel, but the irony of this fact seems to have escaped [ANSWER]."

While Kanowitz did not deny that gays and lesbians have more rights in Israel than under the Palestinian Authority, he said, "The Palestinian people suffer under Israeli occupation, and the source of worldwide bigotry and reaction and racism really doesn't emanate from the Palestinian Authority, it emanates from the United States and the colonial occupation of the Middle East."

Rabbi Camille Angel, spiritual leader of San Francisco Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, a synagogue with strong gay outreach, said its delegation marched at the front of the parade, in honor of its 25th anniversary celebration, and no members reported seeing the ANSWER float. She did not want to comment on the float's message, other than to call it "outrageous."

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."