Efforts to Stop the Gay Parade

"Various actions are underway on behalf of Jerusalem Mayor Lupoliansky, both abroad and in Israel, to try to stop the Gay Pride parade from taking place in Jerusalem this summer." - City Councilman

, | updated: 13:13

The statement was made by Jerusalem City Councilman Shlomo Rosenstein, of Lupoliansky's Agudat Yisrael Party.

"Our clear and unambiguous position," Rosenstein told Arutz-7 this morning, "is that this parade is nothing more than a provocation, and that Jerusalem is not the place for it. The parade is an offense to the character and population of the city. The Mayor has said as much on many occasions."

Asked how this position is being backed up with actions, Rosenstein said, "We are involved in many activities, both abroad vis-a-vis the organizers, and here as well, in this matter. These include contacts with the government, police, etc."

Arutz-7 asked, "In light of the popular impression that the mayor is doing nothing to stop the parade, can you tell us what these actions are?"

Rosenstein, who said that Lupoliansky had asked him to oversee the efforts regarding the parade, responded, "This is precisely the impression we wish to give."

Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski (pictured above) has said he has no say on the matter, as public events are licensed by the police and not by the municipality.

Rosenstein did say, however, that the police have informed the organizers that the date they requested for the parade – in mid-August – was inconvenient, given the disengagement that is planned for this summer and the resultant heavy police involvement. "In a democracy," he explained, "the police must provide a solution for every group that wants to demonstrate. The police can say that it can't be on this particular date, or on this particular street, but they cannot say that the group cannot demonstrate at all."

The event is being organized by the International Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Coordinators. Tens of thousands of people are expected to show up from around the world, as was the case in the previous event of this nature in Rome in 2000.

Jewish, Moslem and Christian religious leaders held a press conference last week in which they expressed their strong opposition to the event. Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger requested of the organizers, "Please do not damage the holiness of Jerusalem. Preserve its character, preserve its peace."

On the same day as the press conference, the United Jewish Communities announced a mission to Israel to coincide with the Gay Pride event. The UJC represents 155 Jewish Federations and 400 Jewish communities across North America, according to its website. Mission participants, led by a "rabbi-in-residence," will "meet with leading politicians and activists from the LGBT community, participate in discussions on civil rights of gays and lesbians in Israel, enjoy dinners with members of the LGBT community, including politicians, business people, actors, musicians, educators, activists and others, [and] will join the opening of World Pride."

Reactions to the UJC decision in public Orthodox circles ranged from "pareve" to "against." Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, which works with UJC and federations across the country, said his organization was "concerned" and is still considering its final response.

Julius Berman, who has served as both president of the OU and on the board of the UJA-Federation of New York, was outspokenly against: "I certainly don't have a problem with taking a mission of Jews that includes gays and lesbians," he told the Forward, "but to relate to them as an isolated group [is wrong]... My problem is that the UJC is allowing itself to be used to integrate the gay and lesbian movement as part of normative Judaism."

"A federation mission of [gay and lesbian Jews] makes as much sense as a federation mission of shrimp aficionados or usurers," said Agudath Israel of America spokesman Rabbi Avi Shafran. "It's just another piece of evidence that the UJC is totally out of sync with the traditional Jewish community."

Rabbi Daniel Lapin of Toward Tradition, a conservative political group headquartered in Washington state, told JTA that the UJC mission "might be appealing, in a childish sort of way," but he was critical: "To undermine whatever precarious stability and unity remains in Israel’s population seems to be an act of childish self-indulgence rather than an act of concern for the Jewish people.”