The Tolerance and Gay Pride Parade 2017

Good evening,

It would have been much easier for me tonight had I spoken words of incitement; or had I turned one group against another. It would have been much easier to write a speech and get applause for choosing to speak against this or that Rabbi who said a think about homophobia. I could have told you what an enlightened and progressive audience you are, while others – well, are others. But that is not our way, and we don’t believe in such a message.

There is a reason why it is said “It is better to teach the good than condemn the evil” on Shira’s tombstone. It is much harder to speak of a complicated message such as this year’s parade: Religion and the LGTB community. Yet it is crucial to promote this issue not only as a theme, but as a symbol of tolerance that we are lacking in so many ways.

Shira wasn’t murdered because of the Jewish faith; she was murdered because of radicalism and homophobia. Harassing the LGBT community in the name of religion is a comfortable solution for anyone who wishes to incite the public against a weak minority. It is for a fact that desecrating Shabbat – and publicly, nonetheless – is a significant religious issue, yet is doesn’t involve incitement or encouraging violence in all platforms of social media.

Many of us take pride in being ‘tolerant,’ while “the camel,” so we are told, “cannot see its own hump.” The sad reality is that more than we would like to admit, we tolerate only those who are like us. Yet often the “others” differ from us: they wear different cloths, they irritate us, they are too promiscuous or too demure, true believers or heretics, primitive and ignorant or rebellious against what is sacred to Judaism. Tolerance, patience, and the ability to consume the other are not measured when we look in the mirror, but when we stand in front of what those different than us.

It is true, at times we have no choice but to protect ourselves. We have a red line, or red lines from which we will not move. And there are times when we cannot even accept a compromise – and that is a good thing. The problem is that when each of us in the Israeli society create more and more red lines, more and more frictions and disagreements are created as well. It will befit us to reflect on our red lines, on the principles we protect. It will befit us to refresh them and make a point of minimizing them – especially when our noble principles deal with how are interact with other people, or with other groups.

We all have feelings, but sometimes individuals and communities claim to have a higher sensitivity threshold while refusing to accept compromises in the public sphere. Perhaps a gay parade offends the feelings for orthodox people, perhaps the same way that an inauguration of a Torah scroll might offend the feelings of atheists. We must remember that our streets do not belong to orthodox nor to atheists, nor to any specific minority – and only when we will become less sensitive about being offended by others, the streets will belong to everyone.

Not everything is “transgress and do not be killed;” life is not black and white – it is diverse and colorful just as the LGBT flag. The diversity of the Israeli society, more than in other societies, is a given fact – like it or not, we are all here to stay: orthodox or secular, straight or gay, and many good others. No one is about to vanish, and in order for us to live together, we must know others, familiarize ourselves with them, and accept them instead of drawing red lines for every matter we disagree about.

We all know that radical voices set the tone, and that changing it is hard. But we must keep trying.

We were sorry to hear of the passing of Amir Frischer Guttman. His willingness to lead the parade this year and his appeal to the public to join the parade were a significant contribution to your presence tonight.

The Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance is not laud, but moderate. It has a distinct message regarding the equality of LGBT community, yet it allows so many other people to take part in it. The Jerusalem parade is complicated, just as life itself, and it is a great example for the way we should follow – the so colorful, the so-not-black-and-white way. Remember it, and spread it as you go.

Thank you for attending the parade this year. It is a wonderful way for us to remember Shira. Please continue coming, and bring with you at least one friend that is not here tonight.