Pride, cel­e­bra­tion and ar­rests

At least 22 pro­test­ers are de­tained at the an­nual gay rights march in Jerusalem.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Noga Tarnopol­sky Tarnopol­sky is a spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent.

JERUSALEM — At Jerusalem’s Lib­erty Bell Park, a nine-acre green space cre­ated in 1976 in trib­ute to the Amer­i­can peo­ple, “bears” gath­ered around a flag of var­ie­gated earth tones stamped with a bear paw and dis­trib­uted fliers that posed the ques­tion, “Who are we?”

A pam­phlet in He­brew and English ex­plained that “in male gay cul­ture, a bear is of­ten a larger, hairier man who projects a mas­cu­line im­age.”

Na­dav Knos­sow, 39, a PhD can­di­date in desert soil mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy who wrote the text, said the mes­sage was nec­es­sary be­cause, “oth­er­wise, ev­ery­one comes up to me and asks, ‘What’s that flag with the wrong col­ors?’”

To­gether with Adam Stovicek, 29, a fel­low doc­toral stu­dent from Ben-Gu­rion Univer­sity, and his part­ner, Doron Rosen­thal, also 29, a Shenkar Col­lege stu­dent of in­dus­trial de­sign, they made a friendly pack.

It was Stovicek’s fifth Is­raeli gay pride pa­rade. He re­ferred to him­self as “an ex­pe­ri­enced na­tive prider.”

Ev­ery year at the pride march, there is a sig­nif­i­cant po­lice pres­ence. There was no dif­fer­ence at this year’s, held Thurs­day. At least 22 pro­test­ers were ar­rested, among them one car­ry­ing a knife — a painful re­minder of Shira Banki, a 16-year-old girl who was stabbed to death at the gay pride march in 2015. The as­sailant, who also stabbed two other peo­ple, was re­cently re­leased on pa­role.

The Is­raeli daily Haaretz said 22,000 peo­ple pa­raded past Jerusalem’s Great Syn­a­gogue on King Ge­orge V Street and left white flow­ers at an in­for­mal me­mo­rial to honor Shira. But Is­raeli po­lice said about 12,000 pa­raded around the streets of the Holy City, a mile from the Tem­ple Mount, where Jews and Mus­lims — who call the site Al Aqsa Mosque — have long been in con­flict.

Avi Mayer, spokesman for the Jewish Agency, tweeted from a drag show and party the night be­fore the pa­rade that with “re­li­gious Jews in kip­pot and re­li­gious Mus­lims in hi­jabs, Jerusalem [is] more com­plex than you might imag­ine.”

Guy Frenkel, 34, an in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions spe­cial­ist from North Brunswick, N.J., said, “In an age where ho­mo­pho­bia is be­com­ing OK again, it’s im­por­tant to show sol­i­dar­ity. It’s not just Jerusalem. Even in New York in the age of Trump you can get your ass kicked. It’s hap­pened in Hell’s Kitchen, in Man­hat­tan.”

Stovicek was glad the 2017 pa­rade was “a bit more cheer­ful than last year’s. But still, you know, it’s very somber. We car­ried flow­ers to a girl’s me­mo­rial site.”

But Rosen­thal, re­mark­ing on the many fam­i­lies with young chil­dren parad­ing, said, “This is a pleas­ant, care­free pa­rade when you com­pare it to the Mardi Gras car­ni­val vibe in Tel Aviv. That is more about dis­play than march­ing in sol­i­dar­ity with rights and iden­tity. This is very re­laxed.”

He chuck­led at the “id­iot pick­eters,” a tiny clutch of four or five men, who had stood at a well-po­liced cor­ner chant­ing, “Jerusalem is not Sodom!”

The pick­eters were not wrong. Mt. Sodom is 80 miles away from Jerusalem, in the Judean desert.

Gali Tib­bon AFP/Getty Im­ages

MARCHERS pa­raded amid a heavy po­lice pres­ence. In 2015, a teenage marcher was stabbed to death.

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