Despite a high security alert all day and riots that lasted all week, Jerusalem’s gay pride event – reduced from a parade after a compromise reached yesterday – went on without any clashes today.
The event was held about three miles from downtown at Hebrew University’s Givat Ram outdoor stadium, adjacent to the government buildings closed today for Israel’s weekend. The enclosed area was more easily securable than city streets, where the parade was originally scheduled.
After a week of violent and fiery rioting by ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem’s religious neighborhoods, police petitioned the court to cancel the event. But Israel’s attorney general up held the event until a compromise was reached between religious Jews and leaders of the gay community.
The event uncovered the severe rift between secular and religious Jews in Israel. Several thousand people attended the event, many of them not gay, but who said they came to support free speech and democracy in Israel and came out against the violence displayed by the religious Jews in the days leading up to the event.
“I’m sure hatred and violence are also abominations,” said Talya Roth, a Modern Orthodox Jew who attended the event in support of the homosexual community.
No ultra-Orthodox Jews were allowed into the event, but Rabbi Yehuda Levin, one of the most vocal opponents of the parade for the last few months, stood outside the stadium giving press conferences and declaring that the religious Jews won this battle.
“It’s best to put this particular situation behind walls, keep it in the closet a little bit,” he said, happy that the event was taking place in an enclosed area.
Israel’s homosexuals and their supporters were not happy with that, however, and some felt betrayed by the state for being forced to downscale their event.
“This is a closed place, it’s not a parade,” said Tze’ela Taub. “It’s practically out of the city.”