Keshet UK and West London Synagogue’s boycott of Pride is pure cowardice

They have let Jewish Queers be bullied off the streets


Pride In London parade on July 1, 2023 (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

June 28, 2024 16:11

Pride parades are a minor exercise of power and a minor exercise of courage. We parade in order to demonstrate that LGBTQIA+ people and our friends can walk down the street in broad daylight just like everyone else. This is action: propaganda of the deed, even if it’s all got a bit glittery and corporate.

The chance of being harassed while marching down Regent Street wearing rainbows is not zero. I’ve marched at Pride with the Conservative Party contingent, and there were fairly explicit comments directed towards us. I’ve marched with the Armed Forces contingent, and we stared down reactionary phobic counter-protesters. Nonetheless, the positive energy of Pride is resilient.

Less resilient, however, is the courage of some of my fellow LGBTQIA+ Jews. Keshet UK and West London Synagogue imagined or anticipated harassment if they participated at Pride in London, and they bailed. In a spectacular failure of moral fibre they acted on the sum of their fears and chose not to exercise power and courage. They supported the idea that there are no-go areas for Yidn, that being “openly Jewish” is dangerous, and that — like Jews of old — we need to get behind the walls of the ghetto and stay there.

Letting the Jewish Queers get bullied off the street by our enemies would be bad. Letting the Jewish Queers get bullied off the street by Keshet UK and West London Synagogue is an absolute disgrace. Other Jewish groups and congregations now feel obligated to follow suit, as though Keshet is competent to give security advice; which Keshet is not. Rather than provide moral leadership to the LGBTQI+ Jewish community, they have done the opposite.

Keshet UK and West London Synagogue took counsel of their fears without taking advice from the Community Security Trust, which is the principal liaison between the Jewish Community, and the Metropolitan Police and security services.

Keshet UK claims a leadership role. Based on what I’m seeing, I don’t want them to lead me. I know that every Jewish community that had planned to join this year’s Pride march is wavering.

I’ve heard young people say that Pride parades are redundant: LGBTQI+ rights are protected by law, and being Queer is mainstream. The deplorable cowardice of Keshet UK and West London Synagogue is the opposite of Pride, and it shows why we need to be out and proud Jews this Shabbat and every Shabbat.

Lynette Nusbacher practises strategy at board level in the commercial world and in the National Health Service. She is an expert on strategic leadership and scenario planning.

June 28, 2024 16:11

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