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Pro-Palestine activists thrown out of White House Pride party for protesting Gaza

Abby Stein and Lily Greenberg Call
Abby Stein and Lily Greenberg Call Photo: Instagram screenshot

Abby Stein, a trans Jewish educator and rabbi, and Lily Greenberg Call, a former Biden administration staffer, were kicked out the White House Pride celebration two weeks ago after the women began chanting for an end to the United States’ support for Israel in its continuing war on Palestinians in Gaza.

“We addressed Dr. Biden and our fellow attendees respectfully, introduced ourselves as queer Jews, and chanted our support for a permanent ceasefire, an end to arming Israel, and asserted that there can be no pride in genocide,” Stein and Greenberg Call wrote in an essay for Autostraddle.

“Almost immediately, Abby was grabbed aggressively by a uniformed Secret Service officer. A White House staffer ran over and angrily informed us that we’d been formally disinvited from the event. We were escorted out and forbidden from returning to White House property that day,” they wrote.

It was Stein’s second White House invite, and she says she was surprised to receive it given how many other outspoken queer and Jewish activists calling for a ceasefire had not been invited back to the White House. Stein counts herself proudly among that group.

For Greenberg Call, whom Stein brought as her plus one for the evening celebration, it was her first return to the White House campus after becoming the first and only Jewish appointee in the Biden administration to publicly resign in protest over the president’s Gaza policy.

The women described the energy at the event as “celebratory and light-hearted,” but “both of us felt uncomfortable.”

“To be at an event celebrating queer liberation, taking place in the epicenter of power while knowing that this Administration has contributed to the abject suffering of the Palestinian people, was extremely unsettling,” the pair wrote.

“After we were unceremoniously dumped outside the White House gates, we went on Instagram Live to share what had just happened,” they said. “It was surreal to know that the party was continuing inside, business as usual, now that the disruptors had been dealt with. As we were recording, some attendees approached us, saying they’d left in disgust after seeing the reaction to our disruption.”

Referring to uprising at the Stonewall Inn in New York City 55 years ago, Stein and Greenberg Call wrote, “The floodgates of queer liberation in the United States were opened because of a riot – a brick thrown in protest. Pride was not given to us. It came because of a struggle and a fight. Throwing a pride celebration at the White House with the implicit agreement that there would be no discussion of the administration’s complicity in the suffering of Palestinians is counter to queer liberation. There can be no queer liberation under occupation.”

“What is lost when queer people turn away from the history of pride’s roots in protest and collective liberation for a pinkwashed, corporate ‘love is love’ celebration at the White House amidst a genocide?” the women asked. “Queer people in Palestine are being killed every day with American-made bombs in a war supported by American policymakers.”

“If we want to honor queer history and value queer lives today,” Stein and Greenberg Call concluded, “we cannot continue to be complicit in the pinkwashing of Israeli war crimes and the dehumanization of Palestinian people.”

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