WorldPride, city shame

Could it be that the entire evening was merely a performance and we, the residents of this city, were merely the extras, filling the set?

Gay jew symbol 88 (photo credit: )
Gay jew symbol 88
(photo credit: )
The past few council meetings have been calm. Too calm, in fact. So it was just a matter of time until the predictable noise hit City Hall. And hit it did, last week. The stage was set last Thursday evening for the big show. On the agenda: the proposal by City Councilman Netanel Sa'ar (Meretz) that the city vote to begin serious preparations for the event of the coming summer: WorldPride, the weeklong international lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender event. Now, "Vade retro, Satanas" (loosely translated as Go back, Satan) may not be a proper Talmudic saying. But I am fairly certain that it was the closest thing to the manner in which Mayor Uri Lupolianski and his haredi deputies responded as Sa'ar, a proud member of the homo-lesbian community of the city, put his proposal forward. The ensuing hullabaloo had been well-choreographed well ahead of time, but this time, the intensity went far beyond the expected. By the end of the rude and very non-parliamentary debate, someone had shut down all of the opposition members' microphones, leaving Sa'ar with little voice to respond to the nasty homophobic remarks addressed directly to him. For those of you, dear readers, who are not familiar with the development of the WorldPride, and especially the planned Gay Pride Parade, let me remind you: The parade had been scheduled to march in Jerusalem's hallowed streets last year. Lupolianski did everything that he could to prevent it. He failed, even in court. But when the organizers realized that the event had been inadvertently scheduled for the day before the Disengagement from the Gaza Strip, they postponed WorldPride to this year, on August 10. At this meeting of the city council, Sa'ar was trying to make a point. He wants the mayor and his coalition to understand that this time, the organizers have no intention of postponing or canceling, and that the city should be ready, on time, with budgets, flags, and goodwill. But Lupolianski doesn't see it that way, and he has little goodwill for this event. He even lost his temper. Of course, you ask, what did Sa'ar expect? He had to know that there was no chance that his proposal would be accepted or even discussed reasonably. So why bother? Could it be that the entire evening was merely a performance and we, the residents of this city, were merely the extras, filling the set? Or that at the end of the performance, after all the players had acted out their predictable roles and the evening had ended in predictable failure, each side would count gains? After all, there can be no doubt that each side earned plenty of political points last week. The mayor is now the hero of the haredi community, Sa'ar gained the sympathy that he has been looking for. And everyone is happy and satisfied. Except, perhaps, for the stand-in citizens, who weren't even invited to express their views. One would think that in a sensitive city such as ours, on an issue of human rights and freedom of expression (as defined by Israel's High Court of Justice), our representatives would want to hear what we, the public, have to say. But they didn't ask us and the microphones were shut down. Which may be for the better, given the intensity of the insults and accusations that flew through the air. But then that's what can happen during cynical performances. Sometimes someone decides to add words and lines that apparently were not in the original script.