With rainbow flags waving and drums beating, more than 4,000 people marched in
Jerusalem’s 10th annual March for Pride and Tolerance on Thursday The event took
place with almost no incidents or violence.
The gay rights activists were
joined by other groups who have taken to the streets in the current “season of
protests,” including social workers, students, doctors and housing
Thousands march in Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade
“This is one day of the year that we can march through the
streets exactly as who we are and the way we are, and we’re marching hand in
hand with many of Israel’s struggling communities,” said Yonatan Gher, the
executive-director of Jerusalem Open House, which organized the
The theme of the march was “Intertwined Paths,” honoring the way
the gay struggle has merged with popular struggles for equal rights, housing,
minimum wage and other social issues. The theme was chosen four months ago, but
is especially resonant given the current tent protests sweeping across the
The event, which has been plagued by violence from extremists in
the past, went off almost without incident. Next to Kikar Paris near the Prime
Minister’s residence, eight people gathered to protest the parade. Police kept
them across the intersection and most of the marchers did not notice them. One
haredi counter-demonstrator was arrested after throwing bags at the marchers with
what seemed to be stink bombs.
Gher told The Jerusalem Post
that for the
past four years, gay rights leaders have been in “discreet negotiations” with
the ultra-Orthodox community before the march. Since through the discussions
haredi leaders came to the conclusion that anti-parade riots only draw more
attention to the issue, demonstrations and violence have noticeably diminished,
“They realized this has nothing to do with them, and our march
is not about sexual identity versus religious identity, but is about our
identity as Jerusalemites to march in this city,” Gher added.
Horowitz (Meretz), the second openly gay Knesset member, addressed the crowds
before the march started in Independence Park.
“We are marching under a
flag of equality for us and a flag of social justice for everyone in Israeli
society,” he said. “This parade is a symbol for this city that there are people
that want to turn it into Tehran. But we will march under our flag to say that
Jerusalem is free and will stay free and equal forever.”
Merav Cohen, a
Jerusalem city councilor who has been one of the leaders of the tent protest in
Jerusalem, announced early on Thursday that the tent protest would join the gay
Dozens of social workers and representatives from the
doctor’s strike also took part.
“The last few weeks, we’ve really been
feeling the social struggle and it really feels like things are changing,” said
24- year-old Meretz activist Chen Ozeri, who has attended every pride march
since he was 16.
“Every time I get excited again, and am encouraged by
all the people here,” he said.
“We’re marching to the Knesset for a
reason – the government needs to take us seriously because we’re part of the
country and they haven’t done anything for our community since it was founded,
they need to wake up.”
As if it weren’t enough that three separate
protests converged on Jerusalem Thursday afternoon – the doctor’s march, the
tent protest, and the gay pride parade – police stopped a procession of four
donkeys and a few dozen extreme right-wing demonstrators at the entrance to the
city. The demonstrators were attempting to get to the route of the annual pride
parade with the donkeys, to protest the “bestial” nature of
Meanwhile, in a parallel universe a few minutes away, a
few hundred haredim – many of them passersby and children – held a protest
against the march at Kikar Hashabat, in the heart of the capital’s
While the event was called for 4:30, only a handful
of people showed up at the intersection, but to Rabbi Ephraim Holtzberg, one of
the organizers, “even if ten people show up – at least we will have fulfilled
our obligation to protest.” “This is not San Francisco, the capital for
homosexuals. This is the Holy City, and the event is a provocation
against the entire world, all the religions, and God,” he said.
the fact that so few people had showed up at the initial stage of the protest,
Holtzberg said “we are being battled by very powerful people, who tore down all
our posters, and put up false ones with the wrong time on them.” He would not
say who these parties were.
The event, which included impassioned
speeches by Holtzberg and Rabbi Arie Shechter, among others, ended with the
attendants wearing sacks, sitting on the road and reading the Tikkun Hatzot, a
lamentation text focusing on the destruction of the Temples.
the Jerusalem pride march has been held in early June, closer to Tel Aviv’s
pride weekend, which drew 70,000 people this year. Open House decided to move
the event to coincide with the anniversary of the 2009 attack in Tel Aviv, which
claimed the lives of Nir Katz, 24, and Liz Troubashi, 17, when a masked gunman
burst into the Bar- Noar Center and started shooting. Fifteen were
wounded. The attacker still has not been caught.