After Ultra-Orthodox rabbis declared a “holy war” on the Gay Pride Parade last week and following Jewish-Islamic cooperation to stop the planned Jerusalem parade, the campaign is moving in to the next stage: Distribution of leaflets and posting of ads.
Last weekend a leaflet published by the ultra-Orthodox community titled “Jerusalem is on fire” included statements by leading rabbis against the parade. The leaflet said plans are being made for a mass rally in protest of the “abomination parade in Jerusalem.”
The ultra-Orthodox community fears that holding the Gay Pride Parade in the capital would expose religious youth and children to homosexuality.
Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, head of the ultra-Orthodox community's religious court, said “this parade poses a real threat to the citizens of Israel," while leading haredi Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky suggested holding the parade in Sodom. His metaphoric suggestion was backed by Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
The leaflet quoted Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Lithuanian community, as saying “This (parade) will not take place. We must do everything to banish this disgrace from the Holy city.”
Members of the haredi community plan on holding a mass authorized demonstration on the day of the parade, which is scheduled for August, this after no protests were held prior to past parades held in the capital.
Previous Gay Pride Parade (Archive photo: Reuters)
Hundreds of rabbis signed a letter drafted by Rehovot Rabbi Simcha Hacohen kook calling on ultra-Orthodox to block roads on the day of the event and stop the parade “with your bodies.”
The cooperation between rabbis from such a wide range of Jewish sects is rare, as the community is plague by incessant internal disputes.
'Events will take place as scheduled'
During a recent meeting with Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky, Archbishop Antonio Franco, the Vatican’s ambassador to Israel, expressed concerns over plans to hold the annual Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem.
Franco said the parade amounts to "imposing the will of the few on the many." He added that Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders will issue a statement condemning the parade.
Noa Satat, chairwoman of the Open House organization in Jerusalem, said in response, “the Gay Pride events all over the world will demonstrate to the Israeli public and the world that Jerusalem is accepting of every human being created in God’s image; the events will present a tolerant, loving and respectful Jerusalem. During the events an inter-religious conference will be held.
She added: “The warm responses we receive on a daily basis teach us that Jerusalem residents and the Israeli public as a whole are not willing to give the city up; they do not want to see a fanatical Jerusalem. If there are sectors in Jerusalem that wish to hold a rally simultaneous to the Gay Pride events – then we respect that. Members of all segments of society have the right to express their opinions, so long as it is done in a democratic, legal and non-violent manner. The events will take place in August, as scheduled.”