Jerusalem the Pink

Staying with the alleged “Holy City” of Jerusalem (see yesterday), the AP reports in Ha’aretz (link from The Revealer) on the upcoming WorldPride 2005 slated for the city:

A coalition of evangelical Christians from the United States and local ultra-Orthodox Jews said Wednesday it would try to prevent an international gay pride parade from being held in Jerusalem this summer, but the mayor of the holy city said he has no way of stopping it.

…The coalition, which includes Israeli lawmakers, said it wants to collect 1 million signatures against the parade. “Millions of people around the world pray for the peace of Jerusalem and are heartbroken by misguided attempts to divide, inflame and sow disunity,” said a statement by [California pastor Leo] Giovinetti.

Giovinetti is a former Las Vegas entertainer who now pastors the Mission Valley Christian Fellowship in San Diego (Rather oddly, on his church bio he dwells exclusively on his weight problems, including his gastric bypass). The church is Christian Zionist, although there has been some controversy in the past, as this article about Conservative Rabbi Arthur Zuckermann mentions in passing:

…in 2002, Zuckerman parted company with all other San Diego Jewish organizations and rabbis by attending a fundraiser sponsored by the Mission Valley Christian Fellowship, an evangelical group led by Pastor Leo Giovinetti. The dinner featured the then mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert, who is now Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister under leader Ariel Sharon.

“I was invited to participate in the event,” Zuckerman said. “It was a huge fundraiser – $1,000 per meal. They raised half a million dollars for the Jerusalem Foundation.”

But leading Jewish groups in town chose to boycott the affair, saying the money raised might be used to try to convert Jews to Christianity. “They felt there was too much proselytizing going on from this group in Israel,” Zuckerman said. “But the way I looked at it was that if the mayor of Jerusalem is coming to be honored by this group, he’s not turning it down. He’s not saying, ‘No, no. We don’t want the money.’ It was going to the Jerusalem Foundation. They would utilize it for appropriate programs in Jerusalem.”

The church also has particular links with the illegal Israeli West Bank settlement of Ariel. Giovinetti is leading the Christian end of the anti-gay pride event; according to the Jerusalem Post he was joined in a press conference with Knesset Members Benny Elon (who works closely with the Christian right) and Nissim Ze’ev (a member of the religious Shas party, which, when in control of the Interior Ministry, has used its visa-granting power to exclude Christian officials), as well as New York Rabbi Yehuda Levin, who called the event a “spiritual rape” of the Holy Land (Levin is the Jewish Fred Phelps – his previous claim to fame was when he urged a boycott of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum for daring to mention homosexual victims of the Nazis).

This is not the first gay pride event to take place in the city – Jerusalem Open House has details about previous parades. They are also organising WorldPride 2005, and write that:

Jerusalem is one of the cradles of Western and Middle Eastern civilization, but its glittering history has been overshadowed by its contemporary strife. In a city – and indeed, a world – where ethnic and religious tensions have become commonplace, it is easy for people to forget their common humanity, to neglect the basic human rights to dignity and freedom. Prejudice against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people in the Middle East is symptomatic of broader cultural and political intolerance.

Jerusalem WorldPride 2005 will gather people from all over the world to bring a message that is needed throughout the Middle East and beyond: that human rights transcend cultural and ethnic boundaries, that our differences can be respected peacefully, and that love knows no borders. There is no better place in the world than Jerusalem to make that statement, and perhaps no city that needs to hear it more.

The struggle for acceptance and pride is particularly pointed in Jerusalem, a city that is home to three of the world’s great religions. The greatest traditions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism affirm the dignity of all human beings and our creation in the divine image. Yet these same faiths have often been sources of hostility and intolerance for LGBT people.

The anti-gay pride coalition objects that this is a religious provocation.

The wretched Aaron Klein reported on the event for WorldNetDaily a few days ago (Thanks to Dispatches from the Culture Wars for the link); the ludicrous Mike Evans was cited as saying:

Jerusalem is where heaven and earth met and will meet again. It is the holiest city. This event will bring to the streets homosexuals in immodest dress, in G-strings, with all kinds of pornographic images. They plan to fill the hotels and restaurants and party like Sodomites, while the world press takes pictures. It is a disgrace to the eternal holiness of Jerusalem and to its people.

Well, actually, I’ve lived in Jerusalem. There are bars. There are nightclubs. There are office blocks. There’s a shopping mall. But I suppose that’s merely the mundane reality; for Evans and his like Jerusalem is rather some sort of magical place where the real world dissolves into a Messianic vision – and the same goes for the people who live there. The Christians opposing the gay pride event are not just objecting to homosexuality: they’re expressing bitter disappointment that Israel and Israelis are not acting according to the fantasy drama they have mapped out for them.

4 Responses

  1. […] on the Israeli far right have been lobbying them for support; MK Benny Elon has even managed to encourage a delusion among millions of American Christians that their views about Israel are more important than what […]

  2. […] Christians were perhaps the most vocal opponents of the gay pride march in 2005 (as I blogged at the time), and news of the 2006 World Pride event has not gone down well either. As is required these […]

  3. […] In fact, it’s just a re-run of what happened last year, and which I blogged on then. […]

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