Daily Israel Report

First Anti-Pride Protest Held in Jerusalem

Thousands of hareidi-religious Jews protested Wednesday against the gay pride march scheduled for the Holy City next month - and say they will be out in force if the police don't cancel the march.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 10/19/2006, 4:54 PM / Last Update: 10/19/2006, 6:36 PM

The protest cut off all traffic through Sabbath Square in the Me'ah She'earim neighborhood of Jerusalem. Some of the speeches were in Yiddish, but were translated into Hebrew "for our Sephardic brothers," NFC reported.

One of the speakers said, "Everyone whom G-d has blessed with children must check the level of modesty in his own home. You can't say, 'I don't know about this, I'm not involved in it.' We must all unite against this plot that has fallen on us, and fight against it. All of us together will fight against this scheme."

Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, the head of the Eidah Hareidit Rabbinical Court, delivered a fiery speech, promising total dedication to the goal of stopping the march "in accordance with the rabbis' rulings." He quoted traditional Jewish sources saying that righteous people die because they fail to protest abominations. "We must protest against the filth [coming to] Jerusalem," he said.

Rabbi Sternbuch arned that the march "could lead, Heaven forbid, to the death of tens of thousands... We don't need a public inquiry to know why the war in Lebanon occurred and why we failed: Because of the abominations in the Holy Land." The gay pride march was originally scheduled for August, and was postponed because of the war.

"We have no intention of clashing with the police," Rabbi Sternbuch said, "but they should know in advance that if the march is held, we will arrive en-masse, with our rabbis and teachers out in front."

Hevron residents Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir wrote a letter to Jerusalem Police Chief Ilan Franco, asking him to cancel the march "because of the fear of violence that will certainly erupt." They wrote that they themselves have been banned from certain places, such as the Temple Mount, for fear that they would incite violence.

Many march opponents note that adding to the desecration is the fact that it is scheduled to be held on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass that presaged the Holocaust. On November 9-10 in 1938, gangs of Nazi youth roamed through Jewish neighborhoods in Germany, breaking windows of Jewish businesses and homes, burning synagogues and looting. Over 90 Jews were killed, almost 7,500 Jewish businesses were destroyed, 101 synagogues were destroyed and 26,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

Jerusalem City Councilwoman Mina Fenton (National Religious Party) told Arutz-7 Hebrew radio that the nation must not be silent. "The march is to be held," she said, "because of a compromise reached between the Jerusalem Open House [a homosexual center that is organizing the gay march] and the police - despite the strong objections of the mayor, the vast majority of the City Council, and many city residents. We must all fight to have this thing canceled - not just postponed."

Before the parade was postponed this past summer, Fenton worked to gather tens of thousands of signatures against the parade - many of them from non-Jews. "The Jews are against it, the Moslems are against it, and so are the Christians," she said, "and yet the police still approved it. The public cannot be trampled upon in the name of freedom of expression."

Fenton notes the provocative way in which the organizers have gone about preparing for the march - including the use of the Jerusalem municipal symbol of a lion in a provocative manner.

"They're not simply demanding equal rights," said IsraelNationalRadio's Tamar Yonah in a show on the topic several months ago, "which could be understandable. They're actually showing pride in their sexual choice, and based on photos from other parades, they dress very scantily and exhibit physical erotic contact on the streets. Is this what we want on the streets of Jerusalem?"