It could have been a scene from the early days of Nazi Germany: a raucous mob surrounding a gathering of Jews, chanting vicious slogans, screaming epithets, all the while their faces distorted by a hatred that is as irrational as it is stunning.
But this was not 1930s Berlin; it was the Hilton Chicago hotel just last week. Perhaps the so-called "progressive" liberal Jews and Israelis at the LGBT rights conference there thought that their prior public criticism of Israel would protect themselves from attack--a kind of verbal "Iron Dome" similar to Israel's ingenious missile defense system.
They were sadly mistaken. The 200 thugs who showed up Friday at a Jewish reception were not interested in dialogue. They comprised an enraged gang filled with Jew-hatred, bent on intimidating and silencing LGBT Jews who have any connection to the state of Israel. And the sponsor of the "Creating Change Conference," the National LGBTQ Task Force, knew full well the potential for violence, and did absolutely nothing to safeguard the lives of more than 100 participants at the reception.
The back-story is known to those who've been following the saga. One of the events at the 28th annual conference was a reception created by the Jewish LGBT group known as "A Wider Bridge." It was to feature leaders of "Jerusalem Open House," a left-wing organization whose then-leader, during the 2014 war in Gaza, called on Israeli soldiers to disobey their orders.
Despite those leftist bona fides, anti-Semitic radicals convinced the Task Force to cancel the event. The ensuing uproar over that decision prompted Task Force executive director Rea Carey to apologize for and reverse the cancellation.
But that humiliating debacle was soon overshadowed by the assault that took place against those at the Wider Bridge reception. As wild-eyed as they were ignorant, those in the horde cheered in support of one leader of the attack who yelled "We're going to challenge these Zionist racist motherfuckers!"
They blocked those who wanted to attend the reception from entering, and held prisoner those already inside the conference room. Several entered the room and commandeered the stage.
Despite that, A Wider Bridge's director of programs, Tyler Gregory, courageously tried to speak about the links between Israel's LGBT community and those around the world. As can be seen near the end of this video, however, he was shouted down by the hysterical screaming of an anti-Israel hater.
As that was taking place inside the room, in the hallway there were the usual cries of "End the occupation!" which in the twisted belief of the extreme left is the source of all evil in the Middle East, if not the world. There was a huge banner and smaller signs reading "Cancel Pinkwashing," the despicable, discredited and deeply moronic theory that Israel's stellar record on LGBT rights is simply a smokescreen to cover its treatment of Palestinians. And there were charges of Israeli "apartheid" from those who are clueless about what apartheid really means, and who don't understand what an insult that is to the South African blacks who truly suffered under that system.
It must be pointed out here that while criticism of Israeli government policies can be legitimate, the extreme left has crossed the line into anti-Semitism, a term from the 1800s that simply means hatred of Jews. The imbeciles yelling in the hallway of that Chicago hotel did not care that the leftist Jerusalem Open House works to protect Palestinian gays, because they don't really care about the Palestinians. Their entire obsession is with the only Jewish country in the world, Israel, and their desire to see the Jewish state and its inhabitants destroyed.
Israel is the only country in the region where gay people live openly, equally, with all the rights and protections of an enlightened society. Yet this is the country these radicals focus on. Have they ever protested outside the embassy of Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is outlawed and gays are flogged, imprisoned, and executed? Have they organized a demonstration outside the embassy of Iran, where gays are hanged for the crime of "consensual sodomy"? Did they show up to decry Russia's new anti-gay law in 2013? Do they attempt to derail events connected to countries that oppress gays?
Of course not. They are preoccupied with Israel and Israel alone. Why is that? Why are those brutal regimes, the true offenders, ignored by these extremists? The answer is clear. Throughout the course of history, Jews have been demonized, boycotted, and murdered. Now, Israel is the Jew among nations, subject to the same kind of baseless hatred, lies and mistreatment that we have seen for centuries. Coincidence? I think not.
The bullying, verbal abuse and threats aimed at those participating in the Jewish reception in Chicago (described by Bridge executive director Arthur Slepian as a "firestorm of hate") was, however, just half of that night's disgrace. The other half was the National LGBTQ Task Force's utter abandonment of the Jews who were attending its conference.
In a press release explaining why the Talk Force was reversing its initial decision to cancel the Jewish event, executive director Rea Carey wrote, "We want to make it quite clear that the Creating Change Conference will always be a safe space for inclusion and dialogue for people with often widely different views."
The Wider Bridge event at the conference, in reality, turned into exactly the opposite: a dangerous and intimidating space in which no dialogue was possible, a moment in which Jews, Israelis, and supporters of Israel were excluded from the wider community.
The responsibility for this outrageous failure lies squarely with the Task Force, which knew exactly where this was heading. In fact, in her statement, Carey wrote "I have been concerned about the intense escalation that has occurred over the last couple of days and the threats towards people who hold a range of views." In other words, she knew this could get of hand, yet did nothing.
In my opinion, there is only one logical explanation for the Task Force's inaction in relation to providing safety and security for the Jewish group, and that is the resentment and anger felt by its leadership over the events of the previous days. I believe there was a conscious decision to allow this mob of so-called "protestors" to shut down the Bridge event, and to let the Jewish participants and their allies fend for themselves.
This was, essentially, a punishment by the Task Force for the embarrassment of having to reverse its decision about the Bridge reception. The only reason the chaos did not culminate in physical violence was the admirable restraint on the part of A Wider Bridge and its supporters, who allowed their event to be ruined in order to protect those in attendance.
This was not simply a mistake by the Task Force leaders, and they must be held accountable for this obscene, shameful and inexcusable fiasco.
MICHAEL LUCAS is the creator of Lucas Entertainment, one of the largest studios producing all-male erotica, and the producer of two independent documentaries: Undressing Israel and Campaign of Hate. His essays and documentaries are available at MichaelLucas.com. This essay is the opinion of the writer, and does not reflect the views or opinions of Out.