Police arrest 40 anti-parade rioters

Chief Rabbinate urges non-violent protest; alternate route planned for march.

karadi pondering 298.88 (photo credit: Ori Porat)
karadi pondering 298.88
(photo credit: Ori Porat)
Just as protests Monday night seemed poised to become the most violent yet of any of the haredi demonstrations against the upcoming Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, a leading haredi rabbi called on the protesters to stand down. The head of the haredi Badatz, Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss, was reportedly behind announcements blaring from loudspeakers across Jerusalem's haredi neighborhoods Monday night, calling on protesters to cease and desist by 11:00 p.m.
  • Analysis: Worse than a gay parade Nevertheless, police in the capital arrested 40 haredim who took part in the violent protests, which were also reported for the first time in the predominantly secular neighborhood of Rehavia. In Ramot, a driver was moderately injured after rioters pushed a large burning dumpster into a main thoroughfare. Earlier Monday, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel called for any anti-parade demonstrations to be non-violent and not cause any damage.
  • Haredi riots continue throughout the night
  • Gays: We can't let violence, threats win
  • Is marching as a gay the greatest of sins? (op-ed) Representatives from the Jerusalem Open House, the sponsor of the annual parade, met with Jerusalem Police Cmdr. Ilan Franco Monday morning, a day after Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz instructed police to find an alternative route for the march. On Sunday, the police decided to cancel the march due to security concerns, but Mazuz said their decision represented a surrender to threats of violence. The organizers and Franco reached a compromise plan, by which the march would be held in the area surrounding the Knesset and continue on to a rally at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's stadium in its Givat Ram campus. Such a route would avoid haredi neighborhoods, would not pass by any houses of worship or even pass through streets with building from which marchers could be pelted by objects thrown from windows or balconies. Meanwhile, Herzliya mayor Yael Gelman called on her colleagues to hold pride parades in their cities, as well. "We want to call on all mayors to go to Jerusalem and march together with the marchers in the pride parade," she told Army Radio. "How could it even be imagined that violence could prevent an elementary right like this in the state of Israel? ... No public figure who fears threats has a right to [public office]." Former Shas leader Arye Deri responded angrily to Gelman's statements. "To go and take something that's forbidden by the Torah - and the Torah of Israel forbids these acts, it calls it an abominable act - and ... come and do these abominable acts, and say that we'll march and we're proud of these abominable acts, this is a provocation against the religious Jewish community," he said. Earlier, Police Chief Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi said that 12,000 policemen would be deployed to man the parade, which is scheduled for this Friday. Karadi told Israel Radio that his forces would need to receive reinforcements from elsewhere in the country, adding that the resultant weakening of forces in other areas was part of the consideration in urging a cancellation of the march. Israel's Police chief said that although he respected the right of any group's freedom of expression and its right to march, he advised against the Gay Pride Parade going ahead because the tremendous risk to public safety overrode this right. "We had to weigh up freedom of expression on the one hand against human life on the other, but unfortunately (Attorney-General Menahem) Mazuz told us to find another alternative to canceling the march altogether," Karadi told Israel Radio. While conceding that Mazuz's decision balanced the stances of the Police and the High Court, Karadi told Army Radio that "in this fine balance not every price if worth the expected clashes and the danger to human life." Open House representatives on Sunday praised Mazuz's decision, calling it "a victory for Israeli democracy."