Ronen Medzini YNET
The parade will begin in Jerusalem's Independence Park at 4 pm on June 26, and end in Liberty Bell Park with a ceremony presenting the gay community's call for equal rights, with the hope of promoting love and tolerance in the country's capital.
"This year we expect the parade to be accepted peacefully by Jerusalem," CEO of the city's Open House Jonathan Ger told Ynet. "We are working very hard with this aspiration in mind. It will be a meaningful and modest event in the center of Jerusalem, held in a way that will help to decrease the tension and violence surrounding the parade in the past few years."
Ger elaborated on the parade's significance: "I grew up in this city believing I was the only homosexual here, and the other members of the community also grew up in this manner.
"The parade is intended first and foremost to tell youths that we are not alone. We constitute ten percent of the city's population, and we are marching in order to strengthen each other and to be proud of who we are. As long as I am unable to walk hand in hand with my boyfriend through the streets without hearing abusive calls, this parade is necessary."
The religious community has already launched its protest against the parade. Two weeks ago religious and ultra-Orthodox Knesset Members met in order to form a unified front against the event planned. "The Pride Parade in Jerusalem is insufferable," the MKs determined.
The participants, including National Union (NRP)'s MKs Uri Ariel, Arieh Eldad, and Zvi Hendel, and United Torah Judaism's MKs Meir Porush and Moshe Gafni decided on a number of parliamentary, public, and legal steps set to sabotage the event. They also considered appealing to the High Court of Justice and holding numerous protest rallies running parallel to the parade.
One such protest rally took place on Monday, in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Beit Israel. Rabbi David Batzri called on the participants in the rally to "be zealous towards the lord, and to hate those that fail and the evil that they create. Zeal is atonement for all of Israel."
Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, who has headed the fight against the Jerusalem parade during previous years and succeeded in sweeping much of the ultra-Orthodox community into the protests, also spoke at the rally in Beit Israel. This year, however, he had to make do with only the few dozen demonstrators present.
"I asked my rabbi: How were so many righteous men murdered during the Holocaust – because they did not protest," Sternbuch called down from the balcony on which he stood. "Whoever does not protest is confessing with silence."
He explained the reason for the parade to his followers: "The lord is testing us in this world and wants to see if we protest. If we don't, there will be disasters. We are alone and they are many, but we are more in quality. They are evil criminals that have no place with the God of Israel."