Jerusalem gay events begin despite Middle East tension

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Jerusalem World Pride starts this weekend amid an atmosphere of uncertainty in the Middle East as Hezbollah rocket attacks increase in Northern Israel and opposition mounts against the Israeli offensive in Lebanon.

But Alan Bolchover, chief executive of the New Israel Fund (NIF), says it is an important time to go to Israel to see what is going on beyond the conflict.

The NIF is organising a tour of Israel for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to coincide with the event.

The expedition promises to explore the “complexities, beauty and challenges of ancient and modern Israel.”

Participants will meet Israeli lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists and are due to visit the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, despite some opposition from local politicians.

Mr Bolchover told “The tour is still going ahead, but the itinerary in the North is restricted for security purposes.

“People always say never go to Israel when there is all this fighting, but it’s nice to see people going and seeing the good things about the country,

The group were also scheduled to attend the WorldPride parade, but it was cancelled after Jerusalem Open House (JOH,) the organisers of the event, decided it would be inappropriate at this time.

A JOH statement said: “This is not the time for celebrations. The parade, which requires extensive security, will not take place due to the situation.”

A JOH spokesman told “The week of events will go ahead, from 6-12 August, but will be toned down to suit the situation in Israel.

“All the conferences and congresses will go ahead as usual and there will also be some form of demonstration in favour of pluralism in Jerusalem.”

The Israeli army is reported to be considering its biggest push into Lebanon for 20 years in pursuit of Hezbollah militants, while the UN is still piecing together a ceasefire resolution.