Tensions Rise Ahead of J'Lem Pride

Haredim Hate on Homos

Approximately 10,000 Orthodox Jews of various sects marched through Jerusalem yesterday to protest the so-called holy city’s forthcoming gay pride. Scheduled for this Thursday, Jersualem’s gay pride’s one of the most contentious in the world.

All three major religions attack so-called gay pride attacks on Jerusalem’s “holy” history and righteous esteem.

The Haredim, however, may be losing steam of their own. Organizers projected 100,000 participants and yesterday’s crumpled numbers suggest a shift in how holy men deal with the homos.

According to Jerusalem Post, a number of conservative and Orthodox leaders are urging their constituents to stay away from anti-gay marches. Some say the seemingly extemist events cast Haredim in less than favorable light.

The relatively small number of protesters represented a stunning defeat for the haredi organizers of the protest, who had expected as many as 100,000 people to turn out in force, and reflected the differences of opinion in the haredi world whether clashes with police at the event would serve their cause, with some rabbis pointedly ordering their students to stay away from the event.

Previous demonstrations against Jerusalem pride have resulted in widespread violence and rioting. Yesterday’s march, however, remained relatively peaceful, with participants igniting rubbish bins and only five arrests.
Despite the low turnout, a Geocartography Knowledge Group poll conducted last week shows that the majority of Jerusalem residents oppose gay pride paraded in their sacred city. Again, the Jerusalem Post:

…64% [of people] either voiced complete opposition to the parade or agreed with the following statement: “Even if authorities permit the homo-lesbian pride parade in Tel Aviv or in other cities, it should be banned in Jerusalem due to the sanctity of the city in the eyes of many in Israel and in the world, and because of the sensitivity of more than half of Jerusalem’s population who are religious.”

Some of those religious folk blame the gays for last year’s war with Lebanon: an issue that resurfaced when Conservative leaders released the following statement:

The previous parade brought upon us the Second Lebanon War, with 150 dead and 1 million refugees… We call on all Jews to come to Jerusalem to use lawful means to stop the parade.

One of the signatories, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, leads the recently revived Sanhedrin – a Bible-born group who claim to have God-given legislative power. While some Sanhedrin have sought more state power, Steinsaltz dodged politics choosing instead to focus on religious matters. Whether he’s taking a harder stance against gays remains open to interpretation.
Yes, 64% counts as an enormous portion of the population, but gay activist Noa Satat of Jerusalem Open House sees a silver lining:

It is no small feat that since last year, support for the parade has risen by 25 percentage points. We believe that the Israeli public understands that the struggle for the right to have the parade and for tolerance is not only the struggle of the homo-lesbian community. Rather, it is the struggle of the entire Jewish people to protect the democratic character of the State of Israel.

And the state of Israel’s doing its duty of protecting the gay priders. Approximately 7,500 coppers will be sent into the streets on Thursday. No doubt Orthodox Rabbi Yitzhak Weiss thinks those officers will be damned. Weiss told yesterday’s protesters, “Anyone who helps the evil will be judged.”

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter’s certainly making some judgments. The politico understands the necessity of putting cops on the streets, but worries that gay and haredi demonstrations sap police power. He tells J’lem Post:

The police are ready with thousands of police in Jerusalem. But it will make it much harder for the police to fulfill its role of defending the citizens and their property.

Dichter also rightly points out that Israel’s not the most stable place on the planet, “Sunday to Thursday is a very long time. In Israel, there are more than 24 hours in a day.” These days especially.
Jerusalem’s city council plans to meet this week to discuss the event and whether it should go on. Mayor Uri Lupolianski wants more than anything than to see the parade canceled. He and his political peers released a statement saying it’s “absurd” that “democratically elected officials of the City Council have no ability to work in the name of the interests of the city and its residents.” Even if that means trampling on the rights of others.