Anti-gay “prank” causes serious concerns

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Ahead of WorldPride in Jerusalem, a leaflet has been circulated offering a $4,500 reward to anyone who kills a gay person taking part in the pride march.

The leaflet, which is signed by a collective calling themselves the “Red Arm of Salvation” has understandably caused consternation amongst the gay community, though it was later revealed to be a prank.

The news website Ynet quoted the director of Jerusalem’s Open House, responding to the threat; “we reiterate our call to stop the inciting and criminal acts against the homo-lesbian community.”

Over 2000 leaflets were distributed overnight, reading; “During this parade, 300,000 corrupt animals are anticipated to march through the holy city of Jerusalem, waiting avidly for the chance to put themselves on display before our children and our sacred Torah. They will try as hard as they can to defile as many of our innocent children as they can.”

Haredi sources said that the Red Arm for Salvation’s leaflet was nothing to do with them, and that the people on the list were nothing to do with the Haredi community. The leaflet was apparently a “teenage prank”.

WorldPride’s organizers are currently riding the wave of suspicion that the event might be forced to move to Tel Aviv, as reported in the Israeli online news website, Ynet.

It quotes a police officer as saying that “Tel Aviv is more used to such events, and therefore it should take place there also this time”.

The Trade and Labour Minister Eli Yishai said that there was “an issue of freedom of expression, but on the other hand there is also the public’s benefit.” He said that he supported the idea of moving it to another city because ?leaders of the three religions are against it.”

Israel’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar wrote to Pope Benedict XVI asking for his condemnation, he said: “We ask your Excellency to issue an emotional, strong, and unequivocal call against this horrible phenomenon, in the hope that the amalgamation of protests being voiced by religious leaders… will prevent the wilful wrongdoers to damage and corrupt the ways of humanity.”

An Arab member of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset), Ibrahim Sarsur, said: ? If gays will dare approach the Temple Mount during the parade, they will do so over our dead bodies.?

Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch of the ultra-orthodox Beth Din (religious court) said: ?this parade poses a real threat to the citizens of Israel.?

The UK Coordinator of World Pride, said; “World Pride 2006 is a call for freedom, freedom of expression, freedom to be different, and tolerance. It seeks to embrace diversity, and is adamant that it will address and raise awareness of all forms of discrimination and injustice.

“We hope others will see their own specific struggles reflected in the struggle of LGBT people around the world and come and participate in this rallying cry for peace.”

Spokesperson Cathy Renna told PinkNews, “there is no change in any of our plans. We have applied for a license to hold the march as planned on August 10. It would be an astonishing setback for freedom of speech if the police opts to surrender in advance in the face of violent threats. I have faith in Israeli democracy, and if it comes to it we will appeal to the Supreme Court. In any case, there is no decision yet by the police, so hopefully, withstanding the many rumours, there will be no reason to appeal.

“This is our legal right, we are sure it will be respected. If it isn’t respected we will turn to the legal system.”