What is the homosexual community trying to prove by renewing its insistance on holding a gay pride march through downtown Jerusalem?
Homosexual activists and their apologists claim they are "merely trying to realize their democratic rights," and in theory they are right: Gays have as much right to parade down Jaffa Road and King George Street as Jews have to march down Fifth Avenue.
But less than a month ago, the homosexual community demonstrated both its right to hold a gay pride festival in Jerusalem and its ability to do so in a way that caused little or no offense to the large majority of Jerusalemites who strongly opposd the march that was scheduled to cap off the festival but was cancelled due to the Lebanon War.
Last year's parade in Jerusalem (Photo: Reuters)
Jerusalem Open House director Noa Sattath described the festival as "amazing," and said the events did much "to advance the homosexual community in Jerusalem, and in Israel."
The festival's lectures, forums, drag performances and more were all well-publicized and well-attended, in public venues such as the Konrad Adenauer Center, the Knesset, nightclubs such as Yellow Submarine and The Ma'abada and others. Events were not held "in the closet."
No Orthodox moves
In addition, Jerusalem's Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox community made no moves to oppose the festival. There were no "incidents," no protests, no clashes, no violence. There were also no reports of nightclubs, lecture halls or other venues denying facilities to the Open House.
This would suggest "World Pride Week" was a rousing success, even without the parade. It would also suggest that Jerusalem is not the hate-filled, extremist den of homophobia gay activists insist it is.
Why, then, are they now insisting to put the parade back on the agenda? Could it be the peaceful Pride Week they already had didn't buy them enough media publicity (both because of the Lebanon War and the lack of ultra-Orthodox rioting?)
No, no, of course not, say Open House activists. "The march has become an annual event in Jerusalem," said Sattath. "It plays a central role in the ongoing struggle for the promotion of the freedom of expression."
But didn't the original gay festival accomplish all that? Did it not stand as a clear example that gays do not need to "struggle" for the freedom of expression? Did it not prove that "the rights of the (Gay and Lesbian) community in Jerusalem... and democratic and pluralistic values in and around the city" are strong and healthy?
If those really the community's goals, would the march not be extranneous following the highly sucessful events of Pride Week?
Include eastern Jerusalem
If the goals of the gay pride march really are to promote "tolerance" and "human rights," it seems to me the community should set about promoting it's "struggle" in Arab neighborhoods of the capital.
Furthermore, Sattath says the Open House views homosexual issues as one of "human rights," and insists Palestinians are "fully involved in all aspects" of Open House activities in general, and of Pride Week in particular.
So why were Arab neighborhoods of the capital routinely excluded from Pride Week activities? And why doesn't the Open House insist on the right to march through neighborhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah, just a short march from Jaffa Road and into western Jerusalem?
If the homosexual agenda is truly one of "human rights," what better chance to promote human rights in a (Arab) society in which active homosexuals are often brutally murdered? Why are drag queens on King George Street legitimate but out of bounds for Salah al-Din Street?
In a moment of uncharacteristic candor, Sattath provided the answer. "We don't want to offend them," she told me a couple of weeks ago. "But many Jews are also offended by the march," I responded. "Seems to me that means you are careful not to offend Arab residents, but feel it is your right to offend Jewish ones."
The silence in response was deafening, and greatly overshadowed whatever empty statement she had to say about "an integral part of our activities" once she regained her composure.
Despite claims by gay activists that the gay pride parade is not intended to be "in your face," that would in fact seem to be the only message to glean from the march in question.
Despite a Gay Pride Week that went off without a hitch, but failed to yield the public relations benefits of rioting haredim, activists seem to feel the week was incomplete without parading through the streets in order to offend a large majority of Jerusalemites (one survey suggested up to 65 percent of secular residents oppose the march).
That, not the march itself, is the true mark of shame for the homosexual community.