Jerusalem Chief Rabbi calls for rainbow flags to be removed ahead of Pride march

Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbi has called for the city to remove rainbow flags from the vicinity of the city’s major Synagogues.

Decorations had been put up ahead of the city’s Pride parade on Thursday (August 2).

The event has long been a source of tension between LGBT residents and ultra-Orthodox elements of the city’s religious communities, with high levels of security in place for the event following a knife attack in 2015.

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern

The city’s Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern hit out at the Pride parade this week in  a letter to Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat.

In the letter, Stern wrote: “Unfortunately, this year it is planned to hold the march on which the spirit of the wise men does not look kindly.

We are already that it is impossible to prevent the march from being held, we do request not to fly the flags on King George Street in the section of the Great Synagogue and the Yeshurun ​​Synagogue, which are considered symbols of the sanctity of Jerusalem.

“Everyone is able to understand that flags, which unfortunately symboliwe the opposite, should not be flown there.”

It comes after more than 200 religious clerics signed a letter calling Pride marchers “perverts”.

The group of rabbis claimed that LGBT rights activists are leading an “aggressive terror [campaign] accompanied by non-stop media brainwashing, as if there is some sort of ‘family’ here, destroy the notion of a family and turn the perverts into heroes.”

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern

The letter went on to attack same-sex parenting, claiming the children of gay people “will be miserable if they aren’t adopted by normal families.”

16-year-old Shira Banki was killed at Jerusalem Pride in July 2015, when ultra-Orthadox Jewish man Yishai Schlissel went on a stabbing spree.

Schlissel was jailed for life plus 31 years for the attack.

Earlier this month anti-gay graffiti was discovered scrawled on a wall near the site of the attack.

The Hebrew message quotes the condemnation of homosexuality in Leviticus, saying: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: It is abomination.”

Local LGBT group Jerusalem Open House condemned the message.

In a Facebook post it said: “At the same place where Shira Banki was murdered during the Pride march in 2015, today hateful writing was spray painted that was meant to set the stage for the next murder.”

The group said that there had been heightened tensions with “radical elements who try to silence the struggle” of LGBT people, citing a string of recent incidents.

JOH added: “No one will drive us out of the streets. No one has the right to question our lives. We continue with all our might. Do not give in to extremism or fear.

“We are here together and we will not let anyone hurt us!

“We expect the authorities to act strongly and swiftly against vandalism and threats to the security of the gay community in Jerusalem.”

2017’s Pride event saw a string of arrests ahead of the march, following an alleged plan to attack the parade.