July 31, 2015
The B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) has denounced the stabbing of six people during Jerusalem’s annual Gay Pride Parade. According to news reports, the suspect arrested by police, Yishai Shlissel, carried out a similar attack in 2005 in which three marchers were wounded.
Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the ADC, issued the following statement:
“We are shocked and outraged by this despicable and senseless hate crime. We agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu that, “In the State of Israel the freedom of personal choice is one of the basic values we cherish. We must guarantee that in Israel, every man and women will live in safety in any way they choose.” Individuals must never be deliberately singled out and attacked because of their sexual orientation, and it is the duty of every political and religious leader to speak out against such brutal violence. We commend the police for the quick arrest of the suspect and look forward to seeing those responsible for this heinous act prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims, their families, and the LGBTI community, and we wish the injured a full and speedy recovery.”
For more information, please contact Dr. Dvir Abramovich on, 9272-5677
Jerusalem’s Pride Divide
By Isi Leibler
The passionate controversy over the gay pride parade planned for Jerusalem earlier this month brought to a head the worst aspects of life in Israel. The storm can be viewed as a microcosm of the decadent trends that have steadily infiltrated our society, dramatically highlighting the ability of minority groups to polarize and hijack the national agenda.
The truth is that the vast majority of Jerusalemites — secular as well as religious — were opposed to holding a gay parade in their city. Had their views been taken into account, the ugly confrontation would have been stillborn.
Israel’s aggressively interventionist Supreme Court, which denies Jews the right to pray on the Temple Mount on the grounds that it infringes Muslim sensitivities, resolved that prohibiting such a parade represented a denial of freedom of expression. Despite being aware that last year three gay marchers were stabbed by hostile observers during a previous parade, the court merely added the caveat that the parade could be cancelled if it represented a threat to public order.
Not surprisingly, the police unequivocally recommended that the parade be cancelled, reaffirming that there was indeed a threat to public order and warning that virtually the entire regional police force — more than 12,000 officers — would have to be diverted to prevent violence from erupting.
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, who has come under considerable criticism for his alleged predilection of enabling political considerations to influence his decisions, rejected the police recommendation. Contrary to media expectations and even surprising the parade organizers, Mazuz insisted that freedom of expression was at stake and that the march would proceed, albeit with some adjustment in routing.
Only at the last minute, however, was the parade radically confined because of a security threat that arose in response to the killing of the civilians in Gaza. Even so, more than 3,000 policemen were required to protect 3,000 gays and lesbians and their supporters who rallied at Hebrew University’s stadium in Givat Ram. The underlying tragedy is that all this took place during a period of grave concern over the very future of the nation, when all responsible parties should have been setting aside their prejudices and concentrating on the promotion of national unity.
Jerusalem is a unique city, and the vast majority of the dominant Jewish and Muslim inhabitants, as well as Christians, do not accept homosexuality and lesbianism as equally legitimate alternative lifestyles. Their feelings are based on religious grounds, and cannot simply be dismissed.
Gay parades are regular events in some cities. But it was inevitable that emotions would become inflamed when gays targeted Jerusalem as an arena to publicly promote their agenda. Jerusalem is not San Francisco, and just as it would be inconceivable for gay activists to parade at the Vatican, such a march in Jerusalem should also have been regarded as provocative.
Nobody who believes in democracy can dispute the right of gays to promote their civil rights. Indeed, bearing in mind that it was only in the late 1980s that the Knesset formally repealed the laws designating homosexuality as a criminal offense, the fact that the law now bans discrimination against same sex couples demonstrates the extent of the gay movement’s political achievement.
But there are limits to what the general community should be expected to accept. Holding a triumphant gay parade in Jerusalem was deliberately confrontationist. The organizers knew it, but believed that such a parade, accompanied by militant opposition from Haredim, would provide them with the publicity they craved. In reality, they also lost out because by and large, most Israelis were disgusted by the whole affair.
The matter also widened beyond a controversy over a gay parade. It was hijacked by a small circle of secular activists as a vehicle to humiliate and discredit the religious. The vast majority of Orthodox opponents to the parade protested within the framework of the law.
Only a small minority of Haredim from the extremist Eda Haredit sect engaged in the violence, but they succeeded in creating the impression that virtually all of Jerusalem’s Orthodox community was party to the hooliganism and provided the Israeli public with yet another revolting anti-Orthodox hate fest. The outrageous behavior by the tire-burning Haredi zealots succeeded in making secular anti-Orthodox agitators the sole beneficiaries from the civil disorder by discrediting all Orthodox Jerusalemites as lawbreakers and thugs.
It was yet another example of the failure of Israeli leaders to prevent a needless schism. It was also due to the connivance and collaboration of the Supreme Court and attorney general who, instead of avoiding yet another painful and damaging confrontation, positively encouraged through their decisions the parade to proceed. The principal losers in this furor were the people of Israel. The ideals — of tolerance, of dialogue, of the efforts to restore harmony in a nation shattered by political corruption, a failed war and a lack of confidence in its elected leaders — simply slid one further step backwards.
Isi Leibler is chairman of the Diaspora-Israel Relations Committee at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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Thank you for your continual support,
-The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance
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The Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance is fast approaching, keeping the staff at Jerusalem Open House quite busy. In light of this exciting time, we wanted to reach out to you and let you know about what makes this year’s Pride special. We are celebrating our initiatives on the local, the national and the global sphere.
For the Jerusalem Open House, exposure around Pride helps to more effectively reach out to those struggling with their gender identity and sexual orientation. Many are inspired to leave their oppressive homes, search for accepting communities similar to the one provided by JOH. To learn more about the hustle and bustle surrounding Jerusalem Pride and to support our activities, please click HERE.
The Jerusalem Open House’s hard work to serve the needs of this community, despite extreme religious backlash, pays off in creating a safe community that serves as a strong example for the rest of the nation. To learn more about JOH initiatives on a national scale and to support our work, please click HERE.
Despite our location within the periphery of Israel, Jerusalem can and should continue it leading role within the international movement for gay liberation. To learn more about JOH’s engagement with the global sphere and to help us make a global impact, please click HERE.
Don’t forget, the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance will be August 2nd. If you are in Israel we would love for you to join us!
Thank you for your continued support; we could not do this without your help.
-Elinor Sidi, Executive Director
Please donate generously HERE.
|5:30pm – 6:30pm||A Progressive Alternative to Halakhic Deliberation|
The founding philosopher of the Reconstructionist movement Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan was fond of saying, “The past has a vote, not a veto.” Progressive Jews have often given the past a veto instead because we lack alternative tools for analysing religious and ritual problems from a contemporary perspective. This workshop will provide an introduction to Value-Based Decision Making and apply its teachings to the hot-button contemporary question of Jewish weddings for gay and lesbian couples.
|10:45am – 11:45am||Pride and Tolerance in Jerusalem|
Jerusalem is the most religious city in the world with an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender) centre. Learn more about the struggle for equality of the Jerusalem Open House, the LGBT center in Jerusalem – a small organization that withstood unprecedented attack by Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders.
|9:30am – 10:30am||
Homosexuality and Judaism
Throughout history, bigotry cloaked in religious idealism has been at the heart of campaigns against minority groups of all backgrounds including gay people, and sexual orientation continues to be one of the most contentious issues facing society even a decade into the 21st century. But is there an authentic view supported by Judaism? Join Rabbi Yaakov Glasman as he sensitively addresses this most important question facing our community today.