This past week, the vitriol on social media, mainly on Facebook, towards gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in Jerusalem was over the top. “Pork eaters” was my favorite, but some of the comments went right for the prurient with talk of anal sex and bestiality. If it was not so hateful and violent, it would have been funny.
Violent because some of these people, arguing against a bunch of people walking about a mile through a main street in Jerusalem, actually advocated for murder and stabbing. Jerusalem Pride is unlike other Pride events. More a march than a parade, there is no nudity, no provocative behavior other than couples holding hands (some of the couples were heterosexual, but I think the haters would still hate because they were walking with sodomites), and this year, it was pretty somber and low key.
The argument, based on Leviticus, (man shall not lie with man) came from people who seem to have forgotten that the miracle at Sinai included the ten commandments. Those posting from Jerusalem about the horror of the march attracted American Christian nuts who talked about disruption and kill them all. And none of these righteous Jews tried to temper the discussion. If someone posts something in response to me and advocates violence, I remove it.
Personally, it was suggested, when I responded, that I am not really a Jew, am a sodomite (huh?), and that I deserve to be stabbed. Nice. That night, I kept thinking, sh*t, do I need to be more afraid of a Jew stabbing me than I do of an Arab jumping out of a doorway on Yaffo going for my throat? I disengaged from Facebook not wanting to see what was the real filth….unbridled, uncensored hatred.
Then the good came through. A friend who had vociferously argued against gay people holding a march in Jerusalem, messaged me and after my emotional response, we found our way to conciliation. I was so angry with her for what I saw as insensitivity to Shira Banki’s parents, that I no longer understood why I would be friends with someone so cruel. But she came to me and she gets it and we will share drinks. And I know that she is a good woman with a righteous soul. An Orthodox rabbi, a learned man, messaged me to offer comfort and friendship and to reinforce what I already knew; that there is only one true judge. He pointed out that my commitment to a life with Torah was more important than other peoples’ words. Friends sent messages with blogs challenging the hate filled atmosphere around this march.
And then the march. I walked it with a friend. The security was tight, rooftops, every street corner, and copters. The police were professional and good natured and there were a lot of them. The march itself was low key and the Lahava anti-gay protestors (for Americans, they are kind of the Westboro Baptist Church, with Gopstein in the role of the Phelps of Israel) were kept far away. When we reached the corner of Washington and Keren Hayesod, Shira Banki looked down on us from a photograph that was surrounded by flowers. There were young people singing and some were crying.
What I saw on this march….grandparents, babies, young kids laughing and playing, young couples in love, rabbis, religious people, secular people…..was everyday Jerusalem. I saw one rabbi I know holding a Meretz banner, for which I will forgive him because he leads teffilot so nicely. And he’s a good guy. What I saw was Jerusalem, the city I love, at its best. Courtesy, smiles, tears, conversations with strangers, care for children; these are the qualities that make a community strong. And if some religious people (and I am religious) believe that these are bad qualities because of their own biases, then they really do not understand this city or this country. Yesterday, the haters took a back seat to kindness and respect.