Illustration: Flags at Jerusalem Pride Parade by Andrew Ratto [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr
Thursday, June 6, was a significant day on the Jewish calendar. It was the anniversary of the first of three days that husbands and wives refrained from marital relations in preparation for achieving an exalted spiritual state and receiving the Torah at Har Sinai. At that time, every single Jew accepted the fundamental principle that marriage was a sacred union specifically between a man and a woman, and there was no confusion regarding the definition of "man" and "woman."
At the very same time we commemorated this date on our calendar, thousands of Jews and non-Jews came to the heart of Jerusalem from all over the world to wage war on all of the above, proudly marching in defiance of exalted spirituality, the Torah that was entrusted to us, marriage being a sacred union, and any notion of separation or distinction between the genders.
Of course, that's not how they framed it. Those who engage in warfare of any kind, physical or spiritual, always have a more self-righteous spin on the destruction they wreak and the conquest they seek. In this case we were treated to the usual slogans, but make no mistake about it; they knew exactly what they were marching for, and love and tolerance had nothing to do with it.
They appear to loathe anyone who stands for timeless principles and anyone who doesn't cheer and applaud anything and everything they do is marked for condemnation.
There is no freedom of thought or expression in this anti-tolerant movement, no self-reflection over whether anything they are doing is right or necessary. Those who support this movement refer to themselves as "progressives," of course, and progress never stops. They only move forward, constantly move forward, and we can be certain that whatever is acceptable to them today will be re-branded sometime in the future as offensive or worse. Indeed, it used to be called gay pride, but now that term is offensive as it is deemed not inclusive enough.
Blind adherence to religious principles is mocked as ignorant and closed-minded, yet only blind adherence is tolerated in the new religion of tolerance,
which has no scholars debating any internal principles or ideas at all. Their predecessors are admired only for pushing the envelope so that its current mob can push it further, but there is no reverence for them beyond that. Those same predecessors today would be considered outdated haters to be destroyed.
G-d-centered religions revere their predecessors and worshipers seek to emulate them. This religion, whose true purpose is to erase G-d from society, worships only the latest and newest push of the envelope, until such time as it is pushed further still.
For all the relentless coverage they receive in the mainstream media, I have never seen an editorial expressing even the slightest criticism or concern regarding this movement and those who participate in it. They are untouchable in a way no religious figure or world leader has ever achieved. To suggest that they have ever reached too far or gone too far is immediately branded as hatred that must be brutally stamped out (that is the only possible explanation for criticism of this movement), and by now nearly everyone has gotten the message. If you don't like what they are doing, best to just look the other way and hope they don't come for you eventually anyway.
“Enemies of Progress”
On June 6, while these mixed multitudes marched in defiance of any limits and boundaries save for pedophilia and incest, a small group of people gathered peacefully to send a different message. Maybe there were 70 of us in all, and probably as many police surrounding us ready to pounce. I will share what I experienced at this gathering and my reflections.
We were supposed to meet outside the Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, but getting there was not easy. All the roads leading to First Station were blocked by police and they weren't letting anyone through. Even residents who lived nearby and wanted to go home — even if they were elderly or with small children — were turned back and told to find a circuitous alternate way.
I live in Jerusalem and have been inconvenienced by numerous parades and public events that tie up the city, but there was nothing like this. No one asked the residents if they appreciated this; it was imposed on them for the greater good of religion, and you did not dare make much of a fuss about it. You just did what you were told.
I made the extra effort, and thankfully reached the meeting point. Then we stood around for a long time waiting to be granted permission from the heavy security forces to proceed to the park up the hill. There was no mistaking the fact that the police viewed us as the enemy. Last year we were forced to wait in a small area surrounded by barriers, with police on horseback and heavy forces with machine guns leering at us with hostility. I remarked to one that they could just open fire — boom boom boom — and it's all over. He replied, “That's a great idea, kol hakavod.”
Interestingly, one of the editors of the Jerusalem Post — which never met an alternative lifer it didn't like — wrote a piece complaining that he had too much difficulty finding an entrance to the parade itself. Ultimately he decided to forget it and just go for hummus and beer instead. He wrote:
The message seemed clear on Thursday: Pride is not wanted here. It’s barely tolerated… Should they always get to dictate the paradigm? Should the intolerant always get to decide? Should those who threaten violence always somehow succeed? Across the world, the message that democracies are sending is that religious extremists, the terrorists, those who will wield knives or guns or cars to attack, will always dictate how they should respond. Democracies respond by closing down areas that were once open, putting up cordons, and deploying masses of armed police. In a sense, democracies respond by becoming authoritarian. Why not make the angry extremist people stand behind the cordon?
This intrepid journalist seems oblivious to the fact that we religious extremists, nay, terrorists, were indeed standing behind a cordon calmly and peacefully, while he was already composing his inflammatory rant. He is also incapable of even considering the possibility that we had absolutely nothing to do with his difficulties in getting to the parade, or that his being inconvenienced was not the result of a premeditated hate-filled scheme against him.
Similarly, members of this new religion are incapable of considering the possibility that anyone can oppose anything they say or do without it stemming from hatred and extremism. It is simply impossible that anyone could oppose their marching through the streets of Jerusalem for any reason other than deep-rooted evil.
Of course, we know that's not true; there are many reasons why perfectly fine people might be against the idea of a parade celebrating "alternative" sexual lifestyles, gender re-definition, and dubious family structures that have nothing to do with ignorance, hatred, and bigotry. But these people won't even allow that possibility, let alone give the benefit of the doubt. You can't say no to anything these bullies posing as oppressed victims demand. For a movement that glorifies any sexual act so long as it is consensual, they have no compunctions about forcing themselves upon entire societies.
You won't find that notion anywhere in the mainstream media. It is intolerant and ignorant, not to mention very bad for business.
I am grateful to the organizers of this counter-rally, who surely had to jump through many hoops to secure authorization from the city and the police. We were not wanted or appreciated. We were the enemy.
Selective Police Crackdown
Indeed, while we waited to be allowed to proceed to the park, a middle-aged couple, apparently not Jewish, strolled by and the woman muttered in English: "Here are the troublemakers." I asked her what trouble we were causing and she paid me no attention.
Another woman, dressed like a circus freak and apparently trying to find
her way to the parade, noticed our group. She gleefully stopped to flaunt the sign she was carrying at our group, which superimposed the Biblical verse "Love your fellow like yourself" over the rainbow banner. This sign is a complete absurdity on many levels, which makes it most appropriate for this religion, and her provocative behavior — a mainstay of this religion — only further underscored the absurdity.
Needless to say, none of the security forces intervened and ushered her away from our group. If the roles were reversed, the provocateur would have been swiftly accosted by a swarm of police, violently dragged away, and prosecuted for incitement to violence, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, and whatever other vague statutes can be selectively applied to anyone the establishment wishes to target; statutes that exist specifically for this purpose.
This woman belonged to a protected class, one that can get away with pretty much anything, and is treated with kid gloves even if they commit real crimes. Our group — peaceful but sincere and determined religious people — belongs to the most hated class, one that is persecuted for fabricated crimes just to keep us in our place.
Fortunately, no one from our group took the bait and engaged the hateful provocateur, and she soon went on her way to celebrate her orgy of love and tolerance.
Not long after, three plain-clothes police came out of nowhere, stormed our group, and dragged off an 18-year old boy, whose only crime was having long side locks in the manner of the hated settler youth. He had been doing nothing whatsoever. My best guess — and it's only a guess — was that they had banned this particular youngster from entering Jerusalem lest he offend someone. Message sent, in the only democracy in the Middle East. At least they didn't beat him up, like they did an autistic religious boy a couple of weeks earlier who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Too bad for these youngsters that they weren't gay and proud of it.
A colorful Israeli fellow, a real sabra, appeared with a portable cooler and began loudly selling ices. In typical Middle Eastern fashion, he kept announcing that he was leaving soon (so you better buy a cold treat while you can), but of course he stayed put until he sold everything.
Finally, after about an hour of standing around, the police allowed us to walk up the path to the park. We were surrounded on all sides by security forces, with more security forces stationed every few meters along the way. If any of us planned on making a run for the park one minute too early, you can bet he thought better of it! At one point I drifted a little in front of the procession, and one of the policemen asked me if I was part of the group. When I answered in the affirmative, he instructed me to wait. A few seconds later they caught up. The massive security breach, this potential danger to all of society, had been contained. The ‘Pride’ marchers, et al., were safe.
Speaking With the Media Spin Machine
Our rally was situated so that no one marching in the parade could actually see us unless they wandered away from it to an adjacent street, and even then there was a large separation from the street filled with security forces and barricades. There was absolutely zero chance of us interacting directly with the marchers or vice versa. Consequently, our real audience was the security forces — themselves a captive audience — and the media that covered our demonstration. Those who spoke would have been wise to tailor their messages to those who would actually hear them, but unfortunately not all of them seemed cognizant of this, despite speaking well.
The importance of knowing one's audience cannot be emphasized enough if our goal is to win people to our side and not simply to stand our ground and make noise. We also have to understand that the aforementioned media is not impartial, and that even their news items are really editorials. Just because they smile at us and speak politely when requesting an interview should not seduce anyone into thinking that they have not already chosen a side and are actively attempting to support only that side, regardless of the facts.
This was illustrated by my encounters with the media at this rally. A woman who told me she was covering the rally for the BBC of Russia heard me speaking English and asked me to help her find someone to interview who
was part of the rally. I told her I was part of the rally and I would be happy to speak with her, but she requested someone else. After a little back and forth she explained that she wanted to interview someone "ultra-Orthodox." I told her I was ultra-Orthodox, and she sheepishly tried to explain to me what she really wanted, which was someone who looks a certain way that I do not.
I challenged her. Are we animals in a zoo? Do you want to speak to real people with minds, hearts, and ideas, or are you just looking for a stereotype? Obviously it was the latter — this "reporter" already knew what story she wanted to tell, how she wanted to portray the people protesting the parade, and she needed a prop. But she could not say that, of course. She assured me that she would speak with me as well.
She found her mascot, a Jew who looked sufficiently "religious" and who obliged her greatest hopes by railing against the marchers as pigs. Do you think he would be portrayed as a deeply religious person who was offended by people behaving in a vulgar fashion and showing gross insensitivity to timeless morals and values that were dear to him and so many others? Or do you think he would be portrayed as a dangerous religious nut who couldn't tolerate anyone outside his narrow sphere? She had already made up her mind, but he fell right into her trap, and her audience wouldn't have any reason to believe we weren't all a bunch of crazed killers waiting to strike.
She did interview me afterward, but I would be shocked if any part of it aired. While I made my points firmly, it wouldn't fit her agenda to show a religious Jew who spoke in a measured tone and made rational points.
For example, she asked me why I was at the rally. There were in fact several reasons, but the one I emphasized with her was as follows. I said that this sort of parade doesn't belong anywhere in Israel, or anywhere at all for that matter, but certainly not in the holiest city in the world. When I meet G-d, as all of us eventually do, He will want to know what I did to prevent this desecration of Jerusalem. I will say that I was not the mayor, nor the prime minister, nor a judge, and I didn't have the power to stop it. But the little I could do, I did, which was to show up and say that this is wrong.
She asked me to respond to the claim that the marchers had no choice, because that's the way G-d made them. I told her that every murderer could claim that he had no choice because he was created with a bad temper, but no one would accept such an argument. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and our challenge as human beings is to transcend and overcome our weaknesses.
In addition, I love many people, including children and my parents, but that doesn't mean I have to sleep with them. It's just an excuse to justify their behavior. I also noted that these same people now claim that genetics should not be relied upon even to determine one's gender — yet we are supposed to believe that the same genetics suddenly determine their sexual orientation and behavior?
I was later interviewed by the regular BBC as well. They thanked me afterward for making articulate points, which I assume means they will never actually air. The most interesting question they asked me — an obvious trap — was what message I would like to say to the people in the parade. I told him that, first of all, I doubt any of them would want to speak to me altogether, for their tolerance for ideas doesn't extend to any that are contrary to their own, but I would invite them to study Torah with me and see what it actually has to say on the subject.
He asked me what the Torah says, and I replied that it has a consistent message in numerous places that this sort of behavior is forbidden and morally wrong. The Torah says many other things too, and you can't just pick part of a verse that suits your agenda and run with it, while ignoring everything else. Many of the marchers flaunt the verse "Love your fellow like yourself," yet they probably couldn't even tell you where that verse is found, what the context is, or what its actual meaning is. So it's really just a meaningless slogan.
I also told the reporters that I was the one who had a real reason to be proud. I have a mother and father, grandparents and ancestors, who transmitted a true legacy to me, and I would do the same for my descendants. The people in the parade had none of that. If even one of their ancestors dating back thousands of years to Adam and Eve were like them, they would never have been born. The only children they could have would be produced in a science lab and foisted into an unnatural family situation, and their grandchildren — if they ever have any — would probably not even recognize them.
If anyone saw this on the BBC, please let me know. If you saw anything from them at all, I'm willing to bet it's people who look like stereotypes portrayed as raging maniacs ready to tear apart the poor, suffering, angelic lovers of love. Fake news at its best.
Anyone interested in the truth and simply reporting what was happening would have found the rally to be rather tame. There were a few short speeches, which mostly focused on the moral outrage of this parade taking place through the heart of Jerusalem, and various double standards between how this community was treated by the government and the media compared to the religious community. For example, paid advertisements stating simply that "Father plus mother equals a family: the courage to be normal" were ordered removed because they would hurt some people's feelings, while no one seemed the least bit concerned about the feelings of religious people, or even secular people with a sense of modesty and propriety.
One of the organizers of the program repeatedly noted that many people with same-sex attraction were able to receive assistance from organizations in overcoming this and becoming healthy spouses and parents. He said we harbor no hatred toward the marchers, and extend our hands in help for anyone who wants it, while we would resist efforts to redefine what is abnormal as normal and what is normal as abnormal. Between speeches there were occasional chants of "It's not pride, it's an abomination," based on the Torah's depiction of homosexual relations — that's as inflammatory as it got — recitation of Psalms, and two mincha services.
I'm willing to bet that there were more prayers recited by our "hate-filled extremist" group of a few dozen than all the tens of thousands of marchers put together. Somehow I doubt that even those who consider themselves "Orthodox" arranged a minyan during the late-afternoon parade. Let's be brutally honest, folks: G-d was not welcome there, and there wasn't a smidgen of fear of G-d in the whole spectacle.
If there were, someone on that side would have voiced the concern that
maybe, just MAYBE, this parade wasn't exactly what G-d wanted, and they should give the matter some serious thought, just for the sake of caution. Where were those responsible voices in the community of love and tolerance? They don't exist, and they never will. It runs counter to the whole ideology of wanton barrier-breaking that this community really worships.
Ironically, it is the Orthodox world which offers a panoply of views on how to respond to the challenges posed by these and other issues, all while holding steadfast to fundamental truths and principles.
Making the Journey to Make a Stand
I will conclude with what was the most fascinating encounter I had at the rally. I met a very nice Korean woman and asked her how she even found us. She told me she loves Israel and she traveled here to protest a ‘Pride’ parade in Tel Aviv. She then came to Jerusalem to pray, and she came across this parade, which she hadn't even known about. I still don't know how she managed to find our small protest; it seems miraculous to me.
I was amazed that she came all the way from Korea to Israel to protest the parade. She related that this movement is causing great damage in Korea as well. I asked her how long the trip was, and she said 17 hours to go to Israel, including multiple flights, and 15 hours to return.
Unbelievable! This unassuming gentile woman was willing to travel 32 hours round-trip at her own expense to protest the ‘Pride’ parade in the Holy Land, with no fanfare or even a travel companion.
At the same time, so many of us who live mere minutes away chose to ignore what was happening right under their noses. Do they really believe that if they ignore this assault on our society it will simply go away? Do they not yet realize that, like all our enemies both physical and spiritual, no concession small or large will be enough to satisfy the appetite of those who seek the destruction of our way of life? Do they think that if they are quiet today the rabble-rousers will not come for them tomorrow or the day after? Will they EVER learn?
I mentioned earlier that there were several reasons I attended this rally. Here they are:
I wanted to show my support for those who organized it on our behalf. They deserve at least that much.
I wanted to make our small crowd at least a little larger. There is no doubt that the politicians and the media were paying careful attention to our numbers and perceived importance. Every person counts, especially when there were hundreds of ‘Pride’ marchers for every one of us.
I hoped for an opportunity to speak with the media and perhaps educate and enlighten someone, even if that were only the person who interviewed me. This happened.
I wanted to do something to counter the spiritual impurity assaulting Jerusalem. We are all responsible for one another whether we like it or not, and what goes on among our people affects us all. There is no doubt that our small holy group did more to protect the Jewish people that day than all the security forces put together.
Finally, as I told the Russian BBC reporter, I wanted to have a clear conscience that I did what I could to stand up for what was right, even if that meant nothing more than simply showing up.
This point is the one that needs to be emphasized most of all. One lady traveled 17 hours from Korea just to show up. What a shame on our people that we couldn't make a much smaller sacrifice to do the same. She didn't make excuses that it wouldn't matter; she didn't calculate whether it was worth the time, money, and trouble. She did what she knew in her heart was right, and she didn't look back. She should be an inspiration to us all.
What would have happened if there were not tens, but tens of thousands of us standing up for the holiness of Jerusalem, Israel, and the Jewish people? It is easy to portray a few dozen random people as hate-filled extremists when the vast majority of their coreligionists don't seem to care. It is impossible to do so when a people stand up truly proud and unified for what is right and true.
This needs to happen, and it will only happen when we decide that what we believe in is worth showing up for. You don't need to be a leader and the head of a movement, and you don't need to do anything drastic. You just need to show up and be counted.
The longer it takes for people to wake up and realize this, the harder it will be to stand up to this movement that has no boundaries and will not be satisfied until anyone who proclaims G-d's truth is destroyed. It has already gotten out of control, and is unlike anything that could have been imagined just a few years ago.
One lady traveled 17 hours from Korea just to show up. Next time, will the Children of Israel take a short local trip to do the same?
Click here to read more of this writer's work in The Jerusalem Herald.
Rabbi Chananya Weissman is the founder of EndTheMadness and the author of seven books, including “Go Up Like a Wall” and "How to Not Get Married: Break These Rules and You Have a Chance," an illustrated book that is humorous yet serious in its examination of the issues facing singles.
Many of his writings are available here. He is also the director and producer of a documentary on the shidduch world, “Single Jewish Male,” and “The Shidduch Chronicles” available on YouTube by clicking here. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org