Dozens of right-wing demonstrators associated with the Lehava anti-assimilation organization gathered in the capital Thursday to protest the Jerusalem gay parade now underway.
The demonstration was led Lehava chief Bentzi Gopstein, attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, and Hevron activist and 2015 Yahad candidate Baruch Marzel.
“You have no reason to [march] here,” Gopstein told parade participants. “You cannot have a [gay] pride march in the Land of Israel. If you have a problem, we will help you, we will treat you. This is not pride, it is an abomination.”
Gopstein claimed the parade offended residents, and said the marchers would not have held such an event in an Arab community.
“They would never let you hold such a march in Umm el-Fahm. Show your respect to Jerusalem residents, there’s nothing for you here [to march for].”
While only several dozen protesters were allowed to join the Lehava demonstration, Marzel claimed he and fellow demonstrators represented the majority opinion in Jerusalem.
“We came here to protest against these people who are desecrating Jerusalem and the Holy Land. These marchers are endangering all the Jews in Israel,” said Marzel.
Despite his rhetoric, Marzel insisted that he opposed the march but had no personal animus against the participants.
“I’m not fighting against these people personally, but against the parade and the phenomenon. We represent the overwhelming majority of people in Jerusalem, who oppose the parade in the holy city. The nuclear family is a holy thing, and it’s important to protect it.”
Thousands of marchers took part in the Jerusalem gay parade Thursday, which was secured by a large contingent of police officers and Border Police officers. Participants in the march were required to undergo security checks before being allowed into the parade’s security perimeter.
In 2005 and again in 2015, the Jerusalem gay parade was attacked by Yishai Schlissel, a resident of the haredi town of Modiin Illit. In both occasions, Schlissel stabbed marchers before being neutralized by police and arrested. During the 2005 march, Schlissel wounded three parade participants.
Three weeks after he was released in 2015, Schlissel attacked that year’s Jerusalem gay parade, killing one and wounding five more. He is now serving a life sentence.