Police Withhold Permits for Gay Pride Parade Amid ultra-Orthodox Protest

It is still unclear if the Gay Pride march will be held, and the police are withholding permits for next Friday's planned Jerusalem event, but the ultra-Orthodox community is bustling with protest activities. However, community sources believe they are mostly aimed at creating public pressure and deterring authorities from allowing the events to take place. The police had claimed the protests were to take place at the event itself.

Plans to hold the gay pride event generate rare moments of unity among various religious circles.

One of the Jerusalem "war rooms" this week houses cooperation between anti-Zionist extremists Neturei Karta and extreme right-wingers. Even more dramatic is a poster slated for publication today or tomorrow signed by the most important ultra-Orthodox rabbis. Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Sephardic ultra-Orthodox leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef will call for protest against "the evil mob seeking to defile the holy city of Jerusalem." They call on "every Jew who fears for the dignity of his holy Torah and the dignity of the holy city of Jerusalem to protest against the abomination in the holy city in particular and the holy land in general."

In the extreme ultra-Orthodox community, a poster was published yesterday by the heads of its own rabbinical court - the Eda Haredit rabbinical court - calling on the public to "protest and demonstrate against evildoers and their sponsors," alluding to Mayor Uri Lupolianski, Elyashiv's protege.

The rabbis, including Eda Haredit rabbinical court head Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss, call for demonstrations next Friday and doing everything possible to prevent the parade. They warn of "evil plots that the evil, impure and sinful people are scheming to defile and desecrate the holy city of Jerusalem with abomination and ugliness."

Yesterday anti-gay activist Rabbi Yehuda Levin landed in Israel claiming to represent U.S. rabbis who seek to prevent the parade. He was warmly welcomed in extreme Jerusalem circles and met with Eda Haredit leaders. Levin said he targets not just the parade but the "homosexual threat" and against the activities of parade-organizer Jerusalem Open House. "A large population wants to fight efforts to make our society homosexual," he said.

Last night small groups of youth congregated in Mea She'arim, and tried to block roads. A more organized protest is expected in the neighborhood today.

Senior ultra-Orthodox sources said there is some cooperation with the Muslim community, mostly from a distance, without any joint organization. But the ultra-Orthodox take pride in the understanding between conservative elements in both communities surrounding the pride parade. A Jerusalem poster recently stated "Arabs and Jews against the evil ones of the parade of filth," and one-time Shas house singer Nissim Shemia yesterday recorded a duet with an Arab performer. In the song, the pair threaten that "Jerusalem will burn" if the parade is held.