Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade Reconsidered

Last week, I argued against the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem. In this post, I'm going to look at it from a different angle.

In my previous post, I asserted that
a gay pride parade in Jerusalem is a confrontational, provocative gesture. It will do nothing to improve the attitude of straight Israelis toward gay people.

My reasoning was that forcing the issue of a gay pride parade in Jerusalem would cause a backlash among moderate Israelis which would result in a net setback, rather than an advance, for gay rights in Israel. And this may very well be true.

But I think what was really bothering me about the parade was the knowledge that certain orthodox Jewish fanatics would resort to all kinds of thuggish tactics to protest the event. Last year, a fundamentalist fruitcake named Yishai Schlissel stabbed and injured three people at the 2005 Gay Pride event in Jerusalem. He was convicted of attempted murder. Yediot:
The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday convicted Yishai Schlissel, a resident of the ultra-Orthodox community of Kiryat Sefer, of attempted murder and severe injury for stabbing and injuring three people at a gay parade. About nine months ago, Schlissel arrived at the Gay Pride Parade which was held in Jerusalem, carrying a knife. He stabbed three people, who suffered light to moderate injuries. “I came to murder on behalf of God. We can’t have such abomination in the country,” Schlissel said during his police interrogation.

According to the charge sheet, the haredi assailant purchased the knife ahead of time in order to carry out the attack at the June 30 parade. "The accused displayed extreme fanatical behavior, and made up his mind not to let the parade end in peace at any cost," the judges wrote in their ruling. "He had no tolerance, not even minimal, toward the people who attended the parade because his worldview rejects any compromise. The accused was fully conscious and ready to pay a heavy personal price for his acts," the judges added.

Now this nutball was an extreme case, but not by far. As a Jew, I wince at this sort of thing. It means Jews looking bad in front of the whole world. And that was something I didn't want to see.

(Full disclosure: I was a practicing Orthodox Jew for a few years. And while I'm no longer frum, I do retain a considerable respect for the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism - as well as a certain sentimental attachment.)

But, you know what? The world does not revolve around what I want to see or don't want to see. Nobody expects the haredi Jews not to object to a gay parade in Jerusalem; that's a given. How they choose to express their disapproval, however, is up to them.

Looking back, I notice that I used the word "provocative". Well, of course we should try to avoid "provoking" people, right? But the idea of a "provocation" has a funny way of shifting the burden of responsibility. One must, after all, agree to be provoked. I'm not going to start talking about those Danish Mohammed cartoons, because I think you get the point.

So, if gay people march in Jerusalem, it will get ugly. Well, life is ugly. We have to deal with it.

I'm going to be following the Jerusalem Pride controversy closely here at Dreams Into Lightning. Stay tuned.