Jerusalemites voice their opinions about the gay pride parade

Melted garbage cans and diversity of opinion both litter the streets of Jerusalem; the garbage cans evidence of the ongoing protests of the haredi community over the contested gay pride parade, the diversity of opinion testament to the conflicted feelings of those Jerusalemites not demonstrating. "The challenge here is balancing freedom with people's religious sensitivity. I would want to preserve freedom at the risk of offending someone," said Lauren, 37, on Jerusalem's Ben Yehuda boulevard. The feelings on Jerusalem's streets range from confusion to hard and fast support to disapproval. "This is God's home, you can't just walk into someone's home and desecrate it," said Ben, 29, a yeshiva student. "I've seen gay pride parades in other cities and I just don't understand why these things have to be so offensive; why does it have to be here?" Crown, a self declared observant Jew, however, was equally offended by the means of protest being employed, "I would passively protest this, but I don't see any religious justification for violence." Danielle, 23, also disapproved of the means of protest. "The haredi reaction is totally out of line," she said, "they are calling this an abomination but they are responding to it with sin, by throwing rocks at other Jews." Chana, 22, a student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was more supportive of the parade. "It's essential for this to happen here, the political capital of the country is the only place and the most appropriate place for the expression of gay rights and freedom in general," she said. Others, however, were supportive of the parade but questioned why it had to be in Jerusalem. "Tel Aviv is the cultural capital of Israel; it's the center of the gay community and the parade should be there. Holding the parade in Jerusalem is an affront to the religious sensibilities of the city," Danielle said. Aviva, 29, expressed a similar sentiment, "I would not like it in Tel Aviv but at least there it's not a provocation like it is in Jerusalem." Martin, 46, a lawyer in Jerusalem, said that "Jerusalem plays a dual role; it's the religious and the political center and therefore it has to be socially and emotionally prepared for these types of events."