Leading Zionist Rabbis Protest 'Abomination' of Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade

Leaders of the Hardali faction have denounced Thursday’s event, though a number of religious-Zionists activists will take part.

Participants walk near the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, during a gay pride parade in Jerusalem.

Israeli rabbis who are both Zionist and ultra-Orthodox have published a letter opposing Thursday’s gay pride parade in Jerusalem, calling the event a “parade of abomination.”

The president of Jerusalem’s Har Hamor Yeshiva, Rabbi Zvi Tau, published the letter Wednesday with Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, the head of the Ateret Yerushalayim Yeshiva in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.

The two are Hardali, a Hebrew acronym for ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) and national religious. In their letter, they “protest the parade of abomination in our city, the holy city of Jerusalem.”

“We are protesting even more strongly the terrible desecration of God’s name; they are bringing in sinners from abroad to participate in this abomination in our holy city,” the rabbis wrote.

“And we are protesting even more strongly the fact that for the first time there is a government budget from the money of faithful Jews to encourage this abominable tourism in the heart of the world, our city of strength.”

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner.
Tomer Appelbaum

Jerusalem has held a gay pride parade since 2002; only in 2006 was there a stormy protest by the ultra-Orthodox.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat supports the holding of the parade but has said he will not take part for fear of insulting religious Jews. Barkat is secular but is considered close to the Hardali faction.

Several prominent religious-Zionist activists have declared they will attend the event, along with a number of religious people who have announced their participation on social networks.

Tau leads a Hardali stream that includes institutions such as the premilitary academy in the West Bank settlement of Eli. Its head, Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, has called gay people “perverts.”

Aviner, who belongs to the same stream, has posted on Facebook biblical verses and religious laws against gay relations. He also posted a promotion for Atzat Nefesh, the hotline he founded for religious gay young men to undergo “conversion therapy.”

Michael Yaacovson

“The expression ‘abomination’ emphasizes that this sin is not natural, not normal, not suitable for anyone, whether Jew or gentile,” Aviner wrote.

He told Haaretz that he does not remember whether this is the first time he has protested the Jerusalem parade. He said the letter was meant to protest the Tourism Ministry’s plan this year to allot 11 million shekels ($2.85 million) to a campaign encouraging foreign tourists to take part in the Tel Aviv gay pride parade.

This pIan, however, was frozen, and the Tel Aviv parade was held around six weeks ago.

Tau and Aviner join another leading Hardali rabbi, Dov Lior, who this week wrote a letter in favor of Lehava, a far-right anti-assimilation group that is organizing a demonstration against the Jerusalem parade.

“You are joining the great Jewish sages throughout the generations who by protesting such acts saved the Jewish people,” Lior said.