Sneaky Jerusalem Activists Repaint City's Welcome Sign
This morning the citizens of Jerusalem awoke to an especially colorful salutation: A group of LGBT actisits had painted the Hebrew block letters that read "Welcome" at the entrance from its usual white to rainbow shades.
The act was timed to coincide with Jerusalem's 10th pride parade, which also happens today. About 5,000 people are expected to attend, with around 1,500 already gathered at the starting point in Gan Ha'azmaut, Jerusalem's Independence Park by the early morning. The parade will resume some of its original route which changed after 2005 when three participants were stabbed by a religious extremeist.
Elinor Sidi, the CEO of the Open House, Jerusalems defacto gay pride center, was not surprised by the paint but "opposes any expression of violence, including the vandalism of public property."
Dror Mizrahi, an LGBT leader in Meretz — the Israeli social democratic party that has long-supported gay rights — defended the paint job.
"The painting of the city gates in the colors of pride is not an act of vandalism but an impressive and brave act," Mizrahi, who is chairman of the Meretz Pride Forum, told the Jerusalem post.
"I'm only sorry that this act was done by private citizens instead of the Jerusalem Municipality."
There is often much pushback from the religious communities of Jerusalem against the parade, part of why it's a much more subdued affair that Tel Aviv's world-class gay pride bash, which happened last month (Tel Aviv is also just much more of a party town).
For example, activists from the extreme right-wing Jewish National Front are planning to bring eight live donkeys to the parade to protest the “bestiality” of the Pride and Tolerance parade." The plan may come back to kick them in the ass, however: Baruch Marzel, the Front's American-born leader, told the Jerusalem Post that the police “is currently giving us problems.”
Sidi, who said that Marzel tries to bring his donkeys every year, insisted that doing so was "...animal abuse, and we really hope the Agricultural Ministry will get involved to stop this."