When the 19th annual Pride Parade was held on the streets of Tel Aviv in the name of celebrating pluralism and “bisexual visibility,” it attracted 200,000 participants —including 30,000 from abroad — and was billed as the largest procession of its kind in the Middle East and Asia.
The municipality closed off roads disrupting the regular flow of typical Friday life in Tel Aviv while floats, dancers, multicolored body-painted, scantily clad revelers, music and no shortage of banners and rainbow flags in all sizes clogged the city’s main arteries.
The event was not warmly embraced by all the citizens of Tel Aviv and greater Israel. A survey following last year’s parade found that most Israelis despise these marches that bring the city to a halt for an agenda with which they do not necessarily agree. Similar complaints are lodged about various athletic events that affect normal movement within the city.
KNI spoke to some leaders from the Tel Aviv Messianic body regarding their response to the parade.
Baruch Maayan of Highway Gateway said he was initially tempted to leave the city that weekend, but that God gave him a different mandate: warn people and save their lives.
“‘When I say to the wicked, “You shall surely die,” and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.’” Ezekiel 3:18, 19
“I knew then that we had to do something to warn the people, but felt strongly it had to be done in silence, no matter what,” he said.
With collaboration from staff and volunteers from Trumpet of Salvation, the team worked together to make a visual object lesson. They stood at the end of the parade route where they felt they would have the best impact.
Yaakov Damkani, founder of Trumpet of Salvation, wore a long, white robe and donned a crown of thorns. He was flanked by two “centurions” bearing banners that read, “He was wounded for our transgressions,” and another, “Bruised for our iniquities.”
The rest of the group wore white robes with black blindfolds also holding posters saying, “All we like sheep have gone astray, but the Lord has laid on him the iniquities of us all,” and, “I will wipe away the sin of this land in one day.” They drew the attention of many revelers as they made their way to the entrance of the “after party.” The costumed team stood in silence at the gate and did not respond to questions from the marchers.
“At one point one of us put a bloodied cloak in front of Yaakov, then later Yaakov was emboldened to put it on himself. The atmosphere changed. The crowd started to chant ‘Shame!’ ‘Shame!’ ‘Shame!’ We stayed silent,” Maayan recounted.
Maayan said that the level of aggression escalated, but the police intervened and defended the believers.
“The police were amazing, truly keeping the law, they protected us. As the crowd grew bigger, we made way by moving back and the police even made a barrier which protected us,” he recalled.
The “after party” taking place inside the gated area hosted someone representing the devil, and witches dancing lewdly on the stage. Maayan and the team prayed as waves of young people flowed past them and into the gates.
Maayan prayed for these people who are “like sheep without a shepherd, streaming through the gate. ..Make it real to them, let the imagery and words that confronted them at the gate never leave them.”
Avi and Chaya Mizrachi, leaders of Adonai Roi Congregation, felt strongly to pray and intercede for the land. They intend next year to have a prayer walk along the route of the parade the night prior.
“This celebration of evil grieves God and we felt very clearly to pray and intercede for the lost,” Mizrachi said. “They are chasing a counterfeit love and only the love of truth and the knowledge of true love will set them free. We prayed for their eyes to be opened and their hearts to be softened.”
A 20-year-old religious Jew took his disdain for the event to an elevated level. He was arrested after posting on Facebook, “Who’s joining me to carry out a terror attack at the pride parade?”
Police remain on high alert during such events since the July 2015 fatal stabbing of a teenage girl in the Jerusalem pride parade.