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Israel: Gay Pride demo under serious threat
Reactionary Jewish and Arab groups in homophobic campaign
A GAY Pride demo will be held in Jerusalem, on 10 November, against a background of vicious incitement and homophobic propaganda by reactionary Jewish and Arab organisations.
Shahar Benhar, Maavak Sozialisti, CWI Israel
This follows a similar campaign running up to the June 2005 Gay Pride demo, which lead to the stabbing of three demonstrators by an ultra right-wing settler (who was sentenced to 12 years in prison). These groups are attempting to whip up hatred and intimidation to prevent people from attending the demonstration.
Jewish religious-fundamentalist and extreme-rightwing groups - among them the followers of the neo-fascist leader, Meir Kahana - formed an alliance with the reactionary Islamic Movement and its political party Ra`am-Ta'al (which organises mainly among Israeli-Palestinians), to oppose the demonstration and organise a 'counter-action'.
The ideological settlers and Kahanists support the banishing and killings of Arabs. Now, they and the Islamic Movement have jointly plastered street lamp-posts and walls of Jerusalem with posters saying: "Jews and Arabs against the filthy parade"!
On last year's pride demo, Palestinians from the Occupied Territories managed to reach the march and demonstrate alongside Israeli Jews. However, they had to march with their faces covered because they feared attacks from reactionary Islamic fundamentalist organisations when they returned.
Recently, hundreds of Jewish orthodox fundamentalists rioted in Jerusalem. 70 (out of 120) members of the Knesset (parliament) signed a petition against the gay pride parade. Even before that, the government promised the Jerusalem municipality that it would use pressure to force a cancellation of the demo.
The news headlines are full of warnings of a 'blood-bath'. The right-wing reactionary Jewish organisations claimed they will mobilise one million people, in three counter-demos, and in nationwide protests.
The figure is obviously fictional and aimed to deter protesters from showing up. Still, even a crowd of 200,000 could be enough to dwarf the gay pride parade and to pose a serious threat.
Over 8,500 people demonstrated in 2005 on the Jerusalem Gay Pride demo but it is not clear what effect the intimidation campaign will have on the protesters this year.
The main prison that serves the Jerusalem region is being cleared of all its inmates in the run-up to the demo, to make space for 1,000 arrests the police expect to make. Over 8,000 riot police, and 2,000 border police (the paramilitary force normally used to guard checkpoints and attack Palestinians), will be positioned along the route.
Unfortunately, the organisers of the demo are expecting this traditionally reactionary force to protect the demonstrators. According to Haaretz some gay activists are willing to agree to a police proposal to hold a rally instead of a march. Others are prepared to cancel the event in return for the ultra-orthodox parties to abstain on a civil-marriage bill in the Knesset.
Maavak Sozialisti (CWI in Israel), which will be participating in the gay pride demonstration, is campaigning for proper stewarding to protect the event. We have produced leaflets outlining the reactionary role of the homophobic campaign against the demonstration.
Through our campaign leading up to the demo, and by our participation, we hope to show the importance of standing up against this vile reactionary propaganda. This is part of the struggle for a socialist world that ends oppression of all minorities, regardless of their ethnic or national background and their sexual orientation.
In The Socialist 9 November 2006:
War and terrorism
International socialist news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history