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The real Jerusalem - earthly and holy

Opponents of the gay parade in Jerusalem should stay out of city affairs

I don’t know what’s worse: that conservative groups are lining up to condemn Jerusalem WorldPride 2005, the planned gay pride festival and parade in Jerusalem this year, or that conservative Jewish groups are finding common cause with conservative Christian groups on this issue.


You can guess the objections to the parade that are being trotted out by its opponents: homosexuals in immodest dress, wild parties, pornographic images. The coalition announced a petition drive against the parade this week.


Even Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, who does not have the authority to approve or cancel the parade (parade permits are controlled by the police) has weighed in on the matter, calling it “horrible,” “ugly” and a “provocation.”


Beyond what they claim would be offense to conservative religious sensibilities, parade opponents of Christian and Jewish persuasions seem to be singing from the same prayer book in their evocation of how the spiritual character of the holy Jerusalem would be harmed by such an event.


Real Jerusalem's real problems: joblessness, poverty


Texas evangelist Mike Evans, who has made praying for the kind of Jerusalem he wants a kind of second job, poured all of his rhetorical grandeur into his statement of condemnation: "Jerusalem is where heaven and earth met and will meet again. It is the holiest city. This event will bring to the streets homosexuals in immodest dress, in G-strings, with all kinds of pornographic images. They plan to fill the hotels and restaurants and party like Sodomites, while the world press takes pictures. It is a disgrace to the eternal holiness of Jerusalem and to its people."


This is what I, a resident of Jerusalem, find most troubling. Do Evans and the others decrying the event realize that a real, earthy and human Jerusalem exists alongside the spiritual theme park they want? Do they realize that the real disgrace to the eternal holiness of Jerusalem, the country’s largest city, and its people is that the city is awash in crumbling infrastructure, overflowing garbage bins, unemployment and crime?


Do they know how many people are fleeing the city for more hospitable locales, even as soaring real estate prices are pricing regular citizens out of the city?


Or that Mayor Lupolianski’s only visible additions to the city since being elected is a clock at the entrance to the city that gives Shabbat candlelighting times and a ridiculous sign on an iridescent green fake grass background along the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway that says “Welcome to Jerusalem?”


Kotel's spiritual uplift


I don’t deny the spiritual and heavenly beauty of Jerusalem. Every Friday afternoon the city’s daily hustle and bustle quiets and a peace descends on the city, even in those neighborhoods that don’t block off motor vehicle traffic.


We live within walking distance of the Western Wall and have been spiritually uplifted many times by walking the ancient path up Mt. Zion, entering the Old City and continuing down to the Kotel for Shabbat or holiday prayers.


Sorry, but I just don’t see that the gay community’s activities are going to disrupt that or ruin my contemplation of the heavenly aspects of Jerusalem.


Jerusalem undeniably belongs to Israel and the Jewish people, but it also belongs to the world in the same way that New York, Paris, London and a handful of other cities do. Like those cities, Jerusalem must remain a cultural, political, artistic and architectural crossroads.


To continue to develop as a cosmopolitan, global city, and not retreat to being the provincial, cultural backwater it was 100 years ago, Jerusalem needs the resources and support of a broad mix of people both from within and outside the country.


I do not want the heavenly city to overwhelm the earthly city, and I want the earthly city to be a place of pilgrimage for more than just political and religious extremists.


Make sure parade happens - and come to it


To the Israel Police, who are wavering on their parade permit with the possible excuse of saying they would be overwhelmed with other duties at the time (soon after the expected disengagement from Gaza), I say: make sure this parade happens - show that Jerusalem is a city for all.


To the Christians who want to retain an unrealistic image of Jerusalem, I say: enjoy your sites and your places, but stay out of the city’s affairs.


To the Jewish groups who are being brought into a problematic embrace with such groups, I say: be careful about who you take as allies.


To the thousands of Israeli, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim gays worldwide who are watching what happens with this parade and gathering, I say, make it happen, come to visit, and experience both the earthly and the spiritual Jerusalem. 


Alan D. Abbey is Managing Director and Editor of Ynetnews

פרסום ראשון: 03.16.05, 10:27
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