BEIT EL, Israel – Are Israel’s troubles in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and the Hezbollah rockets slamming daily into major Israeli population centers here a result of the Jewish state’s tacit support for a homosexual parade slated for next month in Jerusalem?
Some rabbis seem to think so, and they are attempting to block the event from taking place in Judaism’s holiest city.
“Why does this war break out this week, all of sudden with little warning? Because this is the exact week the Jewish people are trying to decide whether the gay pride parade should take place in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv,” Pinchas Winston, a noted author, rabbi and lecturer based in Jerusalem told WND.
Winston is one of many rabbinic leaders here to blast the World Pride Parade, a mass international gathering of homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people scheduled Aug. 6-12.
The week-long homosexual celebration will feature a parade down the streets of central Jerusalem, a beach party, health conference and a “Youth Day” to take place in the Knesset, Israel’s main legislative government building.
The festival is being run by an organization called World Pride, which seeks to promote an atmosphere of “love without borders,” according to group’s website.
Yet many religious leaders believe the Israeli government’s decision to allow a world homosexual parade in Jerusalem is having real-life consequences.
“This [parade] is an attack against God himself,” Winston said. “God has told the Jewish people, ‘If you are not going to fight for my honor, you will be forced to fight for your own honor.'”
Winston points to the clashes that broke out after Hezbollah staged a raid last week in which two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped and eight more soldiers were killed. Israel has been retaliating inside Lebanon while the Lebanese terror group has fired hundreds of deadly Katyusha rockets at northern Israeli population centers, killing 18 civilians and wounding hundreds, some seriously.
On a second battlefront, Israel also recently sent ground troops into Gaza following the kidnapping by Hamas of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Hamas and other Gaza-based Palestinian Arab terror groups have launched hundreds of rockets into Jewish communities near Gaza, including Ashkelon, home to Israel’s major power stations and strategic oil and gas pipelines.
Lazer Brody, an author and dean of the Breslov Rabbinical College in Ashdod, Israel, concurred with Winston.
“When God’s presence is in the camp, nothing can happen to the Jewish people,” Brody stated. “But If the Jewish people bring impurity into the camp of Israel, this chases away God’s presence.”
Brody contends the “removal of God’s presence” led to the recent violence here, but he said he still feels the Jewish state is being protected.
“Over 1,000 Katyusha rockets have been fired thus far, and the damage has been equivalent to scratches,” Brody said.
Before becoming a rabbi, Brody served for many years in the Israeli army, where he fought in combat missions in Beirut during Israel’s incursion into Lebanon in the early 1980’s. He said the public display of homosexuality in Jerusalem “soils the camp of Israel with impurity, and pushes away the divine presence and protection.”
He cites Deuteronomy, [23:13-15]: “For the Lord, your God, goes along in the midst of your camp, to rescue you and to deliver your enemies before you. [Therefore,] your camp shall be holy, so that He should not see anything unseemly among you and would turn away from you.”
“The Torah is the ultimate book of human rights, giving each individual the right to free choice,” said Brody. “What a person does behind closed doors is at one’s own risk; but to partake of that behavior in public spreads the impurity to the entire camp.”
The Rabbinical Congress for Peace, a worldwide coalition of over 1200 rabbinic leaders and pulpit rabbis released a statement this week asking Israelis to “increase the holiness” of the country while it was at war by praying and among other thing cancelling the World Pride event.
The World Pride event previously was held in 2000 in Rome, where it attracted about a quarter of a million participants. Images of the Rome festivities, featured on various homosexual websites, show throngs of shirtless men in shorts and bikini briefs congregated on the streets, some of them holding hands.
Earlier this year, the Israeli Supreme Court granted tacit support for the event. The Israeli police department has thus far supported the parade, although some security officials have stated an upsurge in national violence can bog down police forces and force the event to cancel.
The police also are worried about violent protesters at any Jerusalem homosexual parade. Last year, at a smaller, local homosexual pride parade, three males were stabbed shortly after fellow paraders were seen kissing outside Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue.
Despite Judicial support, a recent poll shows that nearly 70 percent of all Jerusalemites oppose the march. Mayor Uri Lupolianski, an orthodox Jew, has filed a petition to prevent the event from taking place. About half of the Knesset’s 120 legislatures signed a petition against holding a homosexual parade in Jerusalem.
But activists from World Pride claim the event will “bring a new inner-faith message of equality and tolerance” to Israel’s populace. Event organizers say the parade in Jerusalem has been suited to the city’s nature in respect to the local religious population.
Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director of Jerusalem Open House, the main organizer of World Pride, is upset by attempts to move or cancel the weeklong event.
“An orchestrated campaign to sabotage Jerusalem World Pride has been launched by those who propagate the fallacy that only they have a right to claim faith as their mantle,” El-Ad said.
“This campaign will fail, as it has in previous years,” El-Ad stated, “but the news that the mayor of Jerusalem has signed a petition calling for the cancellation of World Pride, accompanied by reports that extremist Jewish preacher Amnon Yitzhak is planning a so-called ‘humility march’ in opposition of World Pride, should be troubling to anyone who believes in Jerusalem as a welcoming city for all people.”
Meanwhile, Yehuda Levin, a member of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, has come to Israel specifically to prevent the homosexual celebration from taking place. He said a homosexual parade is akin to a parade of “prostitutes promoting prostitution, or adulterers encouraging others to try adultery at least once in their life.”
“Israel is the Holy Land, not the homo-land,” Levin told WND.
Levin has been posting signs across Jerusalem urging citizens, politicians and Israel’s chief rabbinate to use all legal means to prevent the festival.
“We’ll use our bodies if we have to,” Levin says.
Sharon Kleinbaum, North American co-chair of the Jerusalem World Pride event, stated in response to Levin’s activities, “I am both outraged and saddened by American Rabbi Yehuda Levin’s efforts to undermine and threaten World Pride, its organizers and participants.”
Kleinbaum said, “Levin’s use of religion as a weapon of bigotry and violence is offensive to all who care about God and religion and morality. He blasphemes God’s name when he says that Jerusalem does not belong to all of us.
“Jerusalem was chosen as the site for World Pride because it represents a center of tolerance, pluralism and love for all humanity,” Kleinbaum added. “The thousands of World Pride participants, from Israel and all over the world and of diverse faiths will be the best answer to Levin’ display of intolerance and unholy values.”
World Pride organizers also are concerned about the current violence between Israel and Lebanon. A statement on the organization’ website reads, “Our hearts go to all the people affected by the violence, as we continue to hope that peace will prevail. As Jerusalemites, we are acutely aware of the complexities of the reality that we face in our city and in the region. We feel that these days optimistic messages speaking for tolerance and against violence, as are indeed the core messages of the Jerusalem World Pride events, are even more significant than during calmer times.”
Like some other rabbis here, Levin believes that there is a direct correlation between the homosexual parade scheduled to take place in Jerusalem and the recent onslaught of rockets raining from Lebanon and Gaza.
Citing Leviticus [18:22-28], Levin said the Torah relates to Israel’ current conflict.
Leviticus states, “You shall not lie down with a male, as with a woman: this is an abomination. For the nations, whom I am sending away from before you, have defiled themselves with all these things. And the land became defiled, and I visited its sin upon it, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. … For the people of the land who preceded you, did all of these abominations, and the land became defiled. And let the land not vomit you out for having defiled it, as it vomited out the nation that preceded you.'”
Said Levin, “The terrorists, the leaders of Israel’s enemies are working for the destruction of Israel, to wipe the Jewish people off the map.”
Levin believes their efforts are succeeding due to what he calls sexual promiscuity in the land of Israel.
“Lebanon is a part of biblical Israel, and we were forced to evacuate there,” he said. “Gaza is a part of biblical Israel, and last summer the land spit out over 8,000 Jewish residents.”
Levin notes that holding a gay pride parade in Israel is not a new idea.
“For years, local gay parades were held in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem,” he said. “This is like boiling water in a pot. First the water starts to simmer, and eventually it boils over.”
Last summer, according to Levin, the pot did indeed boil over. In August 2005, the international World Pride organization sought to hold its yearly event in Jerusalem. After giving initial approval, Israeli police were forced to cancel the event due to Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza. Israeli police would have been unable to carry out the forced expulsion of Jewish residents from the 21 communities of Gush Katif and at the same time provide the required protection for the tens of thousands of participants scheduled to take part in the Jerusalem parade.
Levin said the part of the event he finds most despicable is the “Youth Day,” which he charges is intended to present homosexuality as a viable life option to kids and young adults.
“Last time I checked, sexual contact of any nature with a minor under the age of 18 is illegal,” Levin stated.
“Homosexuality is wrong,” Levin said. “This is something every school kid knows.”
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Alex Traiman is a writer for WND’s Jerusalem bureau.