Hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrators rioted outside a Shabbat reception for Jewish attendees of a gay activism conference in Chicago on Friday night, JTA reports Sunday.
The Creating Change conference was hosted by A Wider Bridge, a Jewish organization seeking to build ties between LGBT communities in Israel and North America.
The demonstrators chanted, "“Hey hey, ho ho, pinkwashing has got to go,” as they streamed through the Hilton Chicago hotel to disrupt the reception.
Pinkwashing is a term used in the anti-Israel community to describe the alleged practice of presenting Israel as gay-friendly in order to downplay or cover up its policy toward Palestinians.
The demonstrators took issue with the fact that the reception featured members of the Jerusalem Open House, a gay activist organization based in Israel's capital.
The National LGBTQ Task Force, which organizes the Creating Change conference, initially bowed to the demonstrators and cancelled the program featuring speakers from the Jerusalem Open House - but later reversed its decision.
According to A Wider Bridge, the anti-Israel protestors stormed into the reception and took over the stage, preventing the visiting Israelis from speaking.
“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 protesters feel don’t adhere to their rigid dogma,” the group said in a statement.
“Lies and gross distortions about A Wider Bridge and Israel were being repeated throughout the conference and at the protest," it added.
"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.”