Religious leaders protest gay parade

NY Rabbi warns of "bloodshed not just on that day, but for months afterward."

gay pride flag 88 (photo credit: )
gay pride flag 88
(photo credit: )
Even as the ties between Palestinian and Israeli politicians strained against the current crises in Gaza, religious officials from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities united Tuesday to oppose a gay pride parade in Jerusalem. More than 50 prominent religious figures visited the Knesset's Interior Committee to urge MKs to stop the World Pride event, scheduled to take place in Jerusalem next month. Several right-wing religious MKs brought the coalition to the Knesset, asserting that "never before has the Holy Land seen such a union of religious leaders." Representations of the gay-rights groups, including the Jerusalem Open House and the Coalition for Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian, and Transgender Rights called the coalition "dangerous" and "ugly." "We will have our event, and our rights as human beings will not be trampled," said Sol Lev, a gay rights activist promoting the event. "Their speech, what these people are saying, is a hate crime." During the meeting, the religious figures urged the event's organizers to consider moving the parade to another city or canceling it altogether. "I promise there's going to be bloodshed - not just on that day, but for months afterward," declared New York Rabbi Yehuda Levin, a representative of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. "In America, we are outraged and disgusted over this event. There are millions of people who, with their bodies, souls and money, will stand against this... I will be here afterwards to remind you and to say, 'I warned you and you did nothing.'" "If gays will dare approach the Temple Mount during the parade, they will do so over our dead bodies," said MK Ibrahim Sarsur (United Arab List- Ta'al). Last week, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar wrote to Pope Benedict XVI asking for the church to issue an official condemnation. While the pope has not commented on the event, an ambassador from the Vatican told the committee that "as a representative of the Holy See to Israel, I believe… holding this event would contradict the sacred nature of Jerusalem." Other religious figures, including imams and several representatives from the Coptic church, also spoke against holding the event in Jerusalem. "Go send them to parade somewhere else," said one Sufi cleric. "That place can become Sodom, and God can smite them there." The international gay festival, Jerusalem World Pride, is scheduled to run for a week starting on August 6. It was originally scheduled to take place last year but was postponed due to last summer's Gaza pullout. Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On called the group of religious leaders "a dangerous coalition." "It is a danger to democracy," she said. "Since when have we put Jerusalem on a pedestal?" Only the Meretz MKs and one Labor MK, Shelly Yachimovich, spoke in favor of the event's taking place in Jerusalem. MK Ibrahim Sarsur (United Arab List) told the committee that "these types of problems" don't exist in Muslim society. "Every man has the right to do what he pleases, but not if it offends others," he said. MK Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism promised that if organizers of the World Pride parade agreed to hold the march elsewhere, he would utilize the new coalition of Jewish, Muslim and Christian officials to promote peace and brotherhood in Israel.