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Right-Wing Israeli Extremists Using Gay Rights to Justify Incursions Into Arab Villages

Gay Pride marches are being exploited by rabidly homophobic extremists who plan to parade through Arab towns, asserting their "Jewish pride."

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Ironically, many Muslim and Christian leaders in Israel have joined Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbis in opposing gay pride demonstrations, especially in the "Holy City."  This makes any asserted parallel between the "Jewish pride" and "gay pride" movements particularly bizarre, as well as Machiavellian and meretricious.

In summer 2006, the Jerusalem Post reported that threats of violence by ultra-Orthodox groups and these same extremists had caused authorities to consider  postponement of the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, scheduled for Aug. 6, for security reasons.

Marzel had called for a "holy war" against homosexuals" and threatened that a stabbing at the pride celebration in Jerusalem the previous year would be nothing compared to the violence that would ensue if the parade took place. Ben-Gvir declared that "Jerusalem is not Sodom," and "He who is not blotted out can expect punishment from the heavens."

In response, State Prosecutor Eranger Ettinger warned, "The price Israeli society will pay in the case of surrender to violence will be difficult to bear." 

Nevertheless, the event was put on hold until Nov. 10. When it took place, protests from ultra-Orthodox Jews and political extremists wounded seven policemen and a still-undetermined number of the thousands of protesters, but there were no fatalities.

Last December, a planned march through the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, a city of about 43,000 almost exclusively Arab residents, was organized by the National Union party. It was postponed when police received intelligence that rioting and violence were likely to break out if it took place. Arab and Jewish community leaders expressed relief at the police decision, although they would have preferred the outright cancellation of the event, rather than its postponement.

At the time, Umm al-Fahm's Deputy Mayor Mostafa Mahamid told the Jerusalem Post that such a march "was liable to destroy the fabric of a common life" that Arab and Jewish citizens have created in the area. "It's a bad feeling for our residents to have this kind of provocation," he said.

Marzel, an American-born adherent of the late Meir Kahane who lives in the Tel Rumeida settlement near Hebron, insisted he would petition the High Court of Justice, which had approved the march in October, to reverse the police decision.

"The government, the police and the leftists have proven that the rule of law does not interest them," he complained. "It doesn't interest them what the High Court of Justice says; they're only interested in what we are doing ... Despite everything, the march has to take place." The march was postponed.

In February 2009, Marzel arranged to be designated the elections supervisor of Umm al-Fahm and boasted he would "purify" the vote of the Arab town. Local leaders protested Marzel's appointment as a poll watcher, and Israel's Attorney General Menachem Mazuz sent an emergency petition to the Central Elections Commitee to replace Marzel on grounds that his presence could provoke a riot in the city.

The attorney general's petition was denied as "premature," despite concerns about security and public order expressed by Yuval Diskin, who heads the Shin Bet (Israel's equivalent of the FBI). 

At the last moment, as Marzel approached Umm al-Fahm with a cohort of thugs, the Elections Committee agreed to replace Marzel with a representative of another small right-wing party because of security concerns, calming tensions among Umm al-Fahm's residents. Marzel was furious. He accused the Elections Committee of yielding to "the Arab sector's violence, blackmail and treachery," and demanded that the ballots of all the city's voters be disqualified.

The postponed parade through Umm el-Fahm took place on March 24. Roughly 100 ultra-right-wing Jewish nationalists, waving flags and singing "Am Yisrael chai" ("the nation of Israel lives"), made their way through Umm el-Fahm in under an hour, protected by police.

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