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Israelis "not surprised" by Parade protest

Sun 23 Feb 2014 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Part of the Israeli entry in the Pride Parade The Israeli Embassy says its presence in last night's Pride Parade was not to make a political statement, but is not surprised there was a protest action against it. Shortly after the parade kicked off a group of gay protesters dressed in pink with placards and a bullhorn broke into the parade, criticising the presence of the Israeli entry, what they call its 'pinkwashing' of Israeli attitudes to human rights in the Middle East and a lack of safety for people in Israeli-administered Palestine. "We were just there because we are proud of who we are, the fact that we are the only country in the Middle East where gay people are accepted," says Embassy spokesperson Patricia Deen. "We were also there to promote the Tel Aviv gay parade... Their pride parade is one of the biggest parties in the whole wide world... We weren't there to make any political statement. We were just there because we are proud of who we are. We were there to celebrate the gay community. We have a proud Israeli and Jewish gay community in New Zealand and in Israel." A protester tries to break back through the security scrum Deen says the protesters actions were "inappropriate.... There is a time and a place for everything. I am not against protest and these people have the right also to speak their mind but to break into a parade was not an appropriate thing." Deen declined to address the political issues raised by the protesters, saying that there are "political parties who are doing this. There are two countries, the Israelis and our neighbours the Palestinians, which are around the negotiation table to sort things out. We are in negotiation at the moment and (USA) Secretary (of State John) Kerry is doing a fantastic job as a mediator... things are being discussed at the moment and I don't think it's appropriate for me to make any further statement regarding the situation." Asked by Daily News if it surprised her that there was protest when the Israeli Embassy decided to take a high-profile action like being in the Pride Parade, Deen replied "No. It doesn't matter what we do or where we are there is always somebody to blame Israel for something. I was expecting this." She says she discussed possible protest with the parade organisers and they were all comfortable with the Israeli entry going ahead. Deen feels it is important to point out that the protest group were the only people who had an issue with the Israeli presence in the parade. "Even though we were being disrupted it was in the beginning of the parade. But through the whole parade we were being cheered, people were saying 'Shalom'. Everybody was so happy to see our presence and when we finished the parade and we looked at each other and we were all so proud and so happy that our minority was actually cheered by all the people that were on the side of the road. Most New Zealanders, they loved Israel." She says that apart from herself all the participants in the Israeli parade entry were gay, mostly from the local glbti communities.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Sunday, 23rd February 2014 - 10:53am

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