Peace march planned in Jerusalem in wake of Pride attack

A mass peace rally is planned to take place in Jerusalem today, in response to stabbings that took place during this year’s Pride celebrations.

Under heavy police protection, the Jerusalem Open House – which also runs the city’s LGBT community centre – will hold a mass rally in Jerusalem city centre this evening (August 1).

Under the slogan “Love Alway Wins” the rally is being held to promote tolerance and to condemn violence in wake of the stabbing of six people Thursday’s Jerusalem Pride march.

The main speaker at the rally will be the President of Israel, Mr. Reuven Rivlin, with many high ranking government officials and religious leaders expected to also attend.

Sarah Kala, Executive Director of Jerusalem Open House, said: “We are here in Jerusalem, and we will stay in Jerusalem”

“Against violence – we will protest, against incitement – we will educate, against hatred – we will love.”

The rally will mark first time government officials in Jerusalem have worked in direct cooperation with the LGBT community.

Unlike Tel Aviv Pride, Israeli politicians do not usually attend or speak at Jerusalem Pride. Pride in Jerusalem remains a taboo event Israeli – one that leaders do not want to be associated with.

News of the rally comes after it was confirmed by police that the person arrested for the attack was the same man who stabbed four people at the same parade in 2005.

Yishai Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, was released three weeks ago after serving 10 years in prison for the previous attack.

According to the newspaper Maariv, Schlissel wrote a letter ahead of the attack saying: “It is the obligation of every Jew to keep his soul from punishment and stop this giant desecration of God’s name next Thursday.”

“Once again, the evildoers want to have a parade of sin and of all places, in Jerusalem — city of the king of kings blessed be he — in order to defile its holiness and desecrate its holy name on Thursday.

“They are always looking for ways to desecrate God’s name even more.”

Following the harrowing attack, politician MK Itzik Shmuli of the centre-left Zionist Union party came out as gay in a column for Hebrew-language newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

According to the Times of Israel, he wrote: “The knife was raised against my community. We stayed silent; I stayed silent. No more.

“We can no longer remain silent because the knife was raised high on the neck of the entire LGBT community, my community – it will not stop there.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also spoken out to condemn the attack.