Israeli Consulate to pull back presence at NYC Pride

Israeli Consulate to pull back presence at NYC Pride

The Israeli Consulate of New York is cutting back on its presence at New York City’s Pride march this weekend due to safety concerns and the solemn mood in Israel following months of war, according to the consulate’s spokesperson.

Itay Milner, the consulate’s spokesperson, said in a phone call that a smaller number of representatives from the consulate will walk in the NYC Pride March on Sunday in comparison to years prior, without specifying exact numbers. Milner said that since 2007, “long before LGBTQ rights entered the political mainstream,” hundreds of diplomats, staffers and representatives from the consulate have marched in the event annually.

“This year, in light of the situation in Israel, we are slimming down our delegation to the parade,” Milner said, citing safety concerns as well. “But our commitment to the cause of equality for all remains foremost and unchanged.”

“From Tel Aviv to New York, Israel stands with the LGBTQ community,” he added.

The consulate’s decision was made in light of the monthslong war in Israel, Milner said, prompted by the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks that killed about 1,200 people in the country. In response, the Israeli military has killed more than 37,000 people in Gaza, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, and forced the wide-scale displacement of people living there.

The turnout at Jerusalem’s annual Pride parade this year was similarly smaller because of the war.

The decision to pare down also follows weeks of disruptions to some Pride parades by pro-Palestinian protesters in American cities this June. Pro-Palestinian activists have blocked Pride marches, including in Boston, Philadelphia and Denver, in protest of the Israel-Hamas war and the deaths and suffering it has caused.

Other than several scuffles between police and protesters, the war-related protests at Pride marches this month were nonviolent.

SF Pride, which runs San Francisco’s Pride march, drew backlash from the city’s Jewish community for a June 4 statement saying that an Israeli float would not be in the parade and that it welcomed pro-Palestinian groups to participate in the event. Two days later, SF Pride appeared to walk back the statement, saying that no groups were explicitly prohibited from registering a float in the parade and that it welcomed groups of all faiths, including Jews, Muslims and Israeli and Palestinian people.

Sandra Perez, the executive director of NYC Pride, said the group was “sticking with inclusivity” when asked about the Israeli consulate’s participation this year.

“It’s not to say that we didn’t weigh it as a board. We did,” Perez said. “And, again, we invite everybody to the table. That’s where we landed.”

Perez declined to comment on the Israeli Consulate’s decision to slim down its operations at the city’s Pride.

The New York City Police Department did not immediately return a request for comment regarding safety concerns for those marching with the Israeli Consulate.

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Matt Lavietes

Reporter, NBC OUT

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