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A new "Pink Jerusalem" campaign--sponsored in part by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism--angered religious legislators who threatened to file a no-confidence motion over the issue. The campaign looks to promote gay tourism in the capital city.
"I unequivocally reject the attempt to focus a state-sponsored campaign on a delusional minority that suffers from a normative defect," Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai said to the Middle East Times. "Jerusalem and Amsterdam are the same for these people. Therefore, those who fail to recognize Jerusalem's holiness had better stay away from it."
Tourism Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch attempted to wash his hands of the controversial campaign, claiming that it was designed by his predecessor, Abraham Hirchson. The ministry stressed that it is not seeking to attract gay visitors over other potential tourists.
"The Tourism Ministry regards all segments of the population as equals, and therefore each group...receives the same treatment," the ministry explained in a press release, reported The Jerusalem Post.
The controversy comes after the publication of a two-page spread in Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot outlining efforts made by the Ministry of Tourism to promote gay and lesbian tourism in Israel. The magenta headline, reading "Pink Jerusalem," was accompanied by photos from the campaign depicting gay couples and travel groups enjoying themselves in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and at the Dead Sea. Several of the photos depicted couples in intimate moments.
"The Jerusalem municipality and the haredi coalition are doing their utmost to maintain the peaceful atmosphere in town, which has proved itself in the last three years. Provocations will do no nothing for Jerusalem but undermine the status quo and coexistence within the fragile fabric of life and relations between the different sectors in Jerusalem," said Jerusalem city council member Shlomo Rosenstein, reported YnetNews.com.
"I'm surprised that the Tourism Ministry and the person heading it chose to destroy rather than build," Rosenstein continued. "This campaign is disgusting and will drive tourists away from Jerusalem and Israel." (The Advocate)