The Blog of the Jerusalem Open House

Protest

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Saturday night saw a large protest in downtown Jerusalem, in which 1500 people marched down King George/Ben Yehuda to Kikar Tzion and rallied against Haredi control of Jerusalem. As an American with spotty Hebrew I had a lot of trouble understanding the speeches, but this is what I have come to understand in the time since the rally: besides the arrest of Nofrat Frenkel, the cause for which I was there, a bunch of Haredim have been (violently?) protesting an Intel factory which remains open on Shabbat, and non-Haridim said enough. This is our city, too.

I would like to pause here for a second, because this is not really an entry about the rally. Rather, I would like to think for a moment about what this means for Jerusalem’s queer community. If the Haredi community can shut down a factory on Shabbat (which really seems to be the likely outcome) and arrest a woman based solely on her clothing, what does that mean for us? Pride was relatively peaceful this year, but the history of violence is there; how long until the gay community steps out of line and the Haredim come after us (again)? Will anyone rally then, or are gay people just too much of a hot topic?

I don’t know the woman was who came to the protest with a gay pride flag, but seeing it there made an interesting point. Even if the protest wasn’t specifically about us, our fate is wrapped up in all of this. The political environment of this city matters to our safety and security and right to a peaceful existence. It shouldn’t–politics shouldn’t affect anyone’s right to existence–but it does. ככה זה בירושלים.

And this is one reason why I hate politics.

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Author: Dev Singer

Dev is a study abroad student at Hebrew University 2009-2010. She is also an intern at the Jerusalem Open House and one of the coordinators of the Engish Speakers Group.

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