NY rabbi seeks Muslim aid on gay parade

Rabbi Yehuda Levin to meet with Islamic leaders in J'lem to protest pride march.

By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
November 2, 2006 20:20
4 minute read.

 
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An American Rabbi who has been a leading campaigner against homosexual events in Israel is enlisting the active support of senior Muslim religious leaders in the Holy Land against next week's planned gay parade in Jerusalem. The move, which aims to bring to the fore Muslim opposition to the parade, comes as Jerusalem police are set to make their final decision this weekend about banning the event due to mounting public opposition and threats of violence. Gay parade tensions rise in Tel Aviv Police are expected to notify the High Court of Justice on Sunday what their position is on holding the parade. The prerogative for issuing permits for public events rests with police, who could ban the move due to concerns over public safety. Jerusalem police chief Ilan Franco met with officials from the State Attorney's office late Wednesday night to discuss the legal justifications to banning the parade. The meeting was the latest public indication that police are planning to ban the parade in Jerusalem. A police veto will immediately be met with an appeal by Jerusalem's Gay and Lesbian Center which is organizing the event, the group's executive director Noa Sattath said this week. The parade, which was scheduled following an appeal to Israel's highest court, is slated to take place next Friday in central Jerusalem. Three consecutive nights of haredi rioting continued Thursday in Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood, with protesters pelting police with rocks, eggs and concrete blocks, and setting garbage bins on fire in the street. New York Rabbi Yehuda Levin, of the Orthodox Rabbinical Alliance of America and the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the US and Canada, will be holding a public meeting in Jerusalem with the chief Palestinian Islamic cleric Taisser Tamimi to denounce the parade. The event, which is scheduled to take place early next week with Israeli Arab parliamentarians, will include a speaker-phone address by the Mufti of Jerusalem. "If someone comes to my house my community to attack, my wife, daughter, children, Torah and God what do think my reaction is going to be," Levin said. "I hold the police and the High Court responsible for any violence that will almost certainly come at the parade because they didn't cancel this provocative act a long time ago," he added. Levin has been to eight Israel times in the last three years solely to campaign against what he dubs the "homosexualization of the Holy Land." The Muslim community in Israel have vehemently denounced the planned parade, but have so far not publicly indicated that they would actively take part in violent counter-protests. Meanwhile, Magen David Adom announced Thursday that they would be on high alert next Friday if the parade goes ahead as scheduled. The rescue service said that 200 medical personnel and 47 ambulances are being assigned to the event as well as a treatment station and 10 medics on motorcycles. Separately, Jerusalem police on Thursday questioned a Bar-Ilan university professor for comments he made against the parade in a TV interview last week that are suspected of constituting incitement to violence. Professor Hillel Weiss, who called for stopping the "monstrous" parade "with any means" was released on bail, with the State Attorney's Office slated to decide whether to press charges against him in the coming weeks. The debate over the parade mirrors a similar controversy over this summer's planned international gay parade in Jerusalem, which was eventually cancelled due to the war in Lebanon. The burgeoning opposition to the local city parade has again united an unusual cross-party and inter-faith coalition of Conservative Orthodox Rabbis, Muslims, and Christians who call the event a deliberate affront and provocation to millions of believers around the world. Supporters of the parade counter that freedom of speech enables them to hold the event in Jerusalem, as a symbol of tolerance and pluralism, even if theirs is the view of the minority of residents in the city. The two-year-old public debate over the holding the international gay parade in Jerusalem in the last two years has only served to intensify the struggle over the local parade. The annual local parade, which draws several thousand participants every year, has been the source of repeated debate, with many religious city councilors and a not insignificant number of largely-traditional city residents considering such an event inappropriate for a "holy" city. Nearly 70 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum have signed a petition against holding such a parade in Jerusalem. The bitter debate on the issue in the Knesset has created a rare alliance of ultra-nationalists, haredi and Arab Parties. On Thursday Labor MK Collette Avital, a long-time supporter of the homosexual and lesbian community in Jerusalem, became the latest parliamentarian to oppose holding the parade in Jerusalem. "The concern over expected clashes [at the parade] obligates us all to do everything we can to prevent the expected violence," she said. Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat on Thursday hosted a group of Rabbis and homosexual leaders at his city home in an effort to work out a compromise to the crisis. The meeting ended without any such agreement.

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