Critics of Israel say the state touts its gay-rights record only to conceal its oppression of Palestinians. They call it pink washing. That’s nonsense.By James Kirchick
In June 2007, I marched in Jerusalem’s gay pride parade. To do so was a risk. A group of ultra-Orthodox rabbis had issued a hex on the event. “To all those involved, sinners in spirit, and whoever helps and protects them, may they feel a curse on their souls, may it plague them and may evil pursue them,” they declared ahead of the march. Two years earlier, a fanatical Orthodox Jew had stabbed three parade participants. And in 2006, a prominent Hebron sheikh had asserted that the parade was “a cancer whose objective is to destroy the Islamic nation through humiliating Jerusalem by demonstrating the perversions of gays and lesbians.” Gays serve an ecumenical purpose in the Holy Land: Extremist Jews and fundamentalist Muslims put aside their differences to join together in hating them.
Thankfully, no violence occurred at the 2007 parade, though hundreds of anti-gay activists lined the route shouting imprecations and holding hateful signs. “Go to a shrink,” one particularly blunt poster read. “Go Away. Your sickness should be healed, not flaunted,” declared another. Over 7,000 police and army officers protected the marchers, and snipers were placed on the rooftops of nearby buildings.