By Hilary WhiteÂ

TEL AVIV, November 6, 2006 ( – In an announcement on the weekend, the Israeli Attorney General has given the green light to the upcoming controversial Gay Pride parade, despite the growing protests of police over fears for public safety. Protests in Jerusalem and elsewhere have resulted in property damage and a synagogue has been desecrated by unidentified vandals.

Thursday morning, unidentified persons smashed windows of the Geulat Yisrael synagogue in Tel Aviv and sprayed graffiti reading, “If we don’t march in Jerusalem – you won’t walk in Tel Aviv.” Police in the upscale neighbourhood of Tel Aviv, which is home to both ultra-orthodox Jews and homosexuals, have warned that if the permission
  for the parade is not rescinded the situation could deteriorate.

Yitzhak Bir, the manager of the synagogue, told Israeli press agency Ynet News, “When I came here I saw that they sprayed hate messages on the walls, the place was filled with broken glass. I then found out that two heavy rocks were thrown through the windows. This is a desecration of the synagogue.”

Police, fearing for public safety in the volatile region, had asked the government to ban the parade and are consulting with the Attorney General’s office. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz of the officially secular state of Israel said there was no legal justification for banning the march. Mazuz made the decision, he said, “so that freedom of expression is respected” and said that to cancel the event would be to capitulate to threats of violence.

The “parade,” an international demonstration commonly characterized in North America and Europe by graphic sexual content and public nudity, had been staged somewhat more sedately in Jerusalem until it was banned. In September, the homosexual activist organization, Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, won a lengthy court battle to have the event allowed and had set a tentative date of November 11th.

Yehuda Meshi-Zahav chairman of ZAKA, Zihuy Korbanot Ason, a voluntary civil assistance organization that aids police and ambulance crews in emergencies, has filed a petition with the High Court to revisit the decision saying that there would be violence if the march were to proceed.

Orthodox Jews and other groups in Israel and around the world have protested the event since the summer saying it would desecrate the ancient city that is held holy by three of the world’s great religious traditions. Jewish protests have called the event a “parade of debauchery”.

The parade was planned for this summer to coincide with similar events staged in North America and Europe but plans were halted when hostilities broke out between south Lebanon and Israel.

At a conference this summer a prominent rabbi, Rabbi Fromen, told reporters that the parade would heighten tensions between Muslims and Jews in the country. “Holding such an event in Jerusalem validates the Muslim theory that the US sent the Zionist heretics to desecrate places holy to Islam, to negatively-influence Muslim youth and ruin the Muslim tradition,” Rabbi Fromen told Ynet.

In a statement, the group, Jerusalem Open House, said they would be meeting with police today to finalize the parade route and discuss security.

In an editorial in Jerusalem’s daily, Haaretz titled, “When tolerance is tyranny,” Ellen W. Horowitz called the handling of the situation by police, parliament and the courts “provocative negligence.”

“This isn’t about minority rights or freedoms of expression and assembly. It is about the deliberate trampling of the religious and moral sensitivities of the people of Jerusalem,” Horowitz writes.

“The pride movement’s peculiar parades have successfully reduced self-expression and freedom to nothing more than a promotion of voyeurism, hedonism, narcissism and exhibitionism. Homophobia is a misnomer, because we’re not afraid of the gay community – we’re afraid for them.”

In a poll taken in the early summer, residents of Jerusalem opposed the event with over 69 per cent against and 12 per cent expressing support.Â

Read related coverage:
  Thousands of Orthodox Jews Protest Gay Pride – Signs: “J’lem is not Sodom or New York”

Read Ellen Horowitz’ Editorial:
  When tolerance is tyranny

Read coverage in Ynet:
  Synagogue vandalized as gay parade controversy picks up steam,7340,L-3322809,00.html


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