Why talking is better than walking

You can't engage in dialogue while walking in a parade that raises such antagonism.

gay pride tel aviv (photo credit: AP)
gay pride tel aviv
(photo credit: AP)
I am not homophobic. I stand for and respect the gay community, and I openly fight the demonization its members suffer in Israeli society. Of course, like in the famous joke, some of my friends and family are homosexual and I am proud of that, but that's not my kashrut certificate. I believe that I have the right to disagree with the actions of the gay community in Jerusalem, in particular the management of the Open House community center. I am, and have been from the beginning some five years ago, against the gay pride parade taking place anywhere it raises strong opposition, in Jerusalem particularly. I am not against the parade because I think the haredi community should not be challenged. I respect the haredi community (some of my best friends and relatives are members of this community and here again, I am proud of it). My reasons are totally different. It is connected with the (sad) fact that respectful and productive dialogue is not a strong side of Israeli society. You only have to watch some of the most popular shows on local TV stations to realize that we do not listen and we do not even expect our conversation partners to listen to us. An average Israeli so-called dialogue would inevitably end with only two options for the opposing sides: Either you've crushed your opponent or you've been crushed yourself. Options of listening, understanding the other's point and perhaps even seeing it differently are totally out of question. In many ways, holding a gay parade in a place where so many people still think you might become gay or sick if you even look at gay people (I have heard this several times, and not only from haredim), is to engage in a dialogue Israeli style, meaning: a waste of time and energy. Some will probably never change their mind, but they are a minority. The vast majority is made up of people who ignore the facts, are indifferent and do not know how and where to find those facts. So roughly, they follow the leader. These are the people the homosexual activists and others who care about a free and democratic society should try to reach and talk to. But you can't engage in dialogue while walking in a parade that raises such antagonism. It just doesn't work. And there is another reason why I am opposed to the parade. People at the Open House say that after every parade lots of people call to ask for information. I believe them. But I am sure that many more people, including young people and especially teenagers who are confused about their sexual identity, won't call at all, because they already feel different and are afraid. Amid such hatred against the gay community, it is more difficult to get closer to the Open House and what it represents. And it can be a matter of life and death, because according to the Open House one-third of teen suicide attempts are connected to sexual identity. I have come to the conclusion that the only way to save those kids, and also many adults who are afraid of their identity, is not through parades and hatred and riots, but by education, advocacy and free information away from an agitated atmosphere. I would like the municipality and the state to use my taxes for this purpose, not for a parade that will ultimately cause only more hatred - not to mention the traffic jams.