Jerusalem just held its Pride parade, and over 4,000 people marched. There were protesters, and one person was arrested for throwing stink bombs, but on the whole Jerusalem's 10th annual March for Pride and Tolerance went well.
Because the asses never got there.
I shall explain. On the day of the parade, police stopped four donkeys and what The Jerusalem Post described as "a few dozen extreme right-wing demonstrators" from entering the city.
The humans intended to take their donkeys to the Pride parade. Not because the donkeys were gay or enjoyed a good parade. The animals were supposed to represent the "bestial" nature of homosexuality.
Being stopped at the entrance to the city put the kibosh on that protest plan. The asses didn't get to the parade route. The donkeys didn't either.
It wasn't the first time people tried to put donkeys to this particular symbolic use in Jerusalem. Last year Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus wanted to stage a "donkey parade" alongside the Pride march.
He planned to march 50 donkeys through the streets. I wonder if he also had a plan for cleaning up after them.
"This expresses what we think - that this is a beastly act," the ultra-Orthodox Pindrus told the Ynet news website.
He said plainly that he's not just anti-gay, but pro-donkey. "Doesn't a donkey have a right to be a donkey?" Pindrus asked innocently. "This is a democratic state, so we will not accept the claim that donkeys have no right to march. There are donkeys who are proud of their donkeyness and want to have a parade."
I think they'd find holding a flag a bit of a challenge.
The deputy mayor's spokesman wouldn't link this proposed parade of the donkeys with Pride. "Donkeys also have rights to be recognized as couples," he told AFP. "We are in favor of donkey rights."
Isn't it touching how these guys are so sympathetic to asses? It's as though they feel a kinship.
Ultimately the Holy City did not host Donkey Pride. Jerusalem police rejected Pindrus' request. But they also offered a compromise: Pindrus and his friends could hold cardboard cutouts of donkeys.
They did. Whether they also supplied the braying I can't say.
Police reported that two male members of Pindrus' band attacked a female carrying a pro-gay sign. Real donkeys would've behaved better.
According to Ynet, right-wingers and an assortment of religious figures had used donkeys as a means of protest prior to Pindrus, so this isn't new, this game of pin the symbol on the donkey.
What the donkeys think about it is unknown. But over thousands of years they've been put to so many uses in the Middle East - from pulling plows to carrying riders to dragging bomb-laden carts meant to be the death of them - that at this point I can't imagine they're surprised by anything humans choose to do with them.
Perhaps the next symbolic use will be running a donkey for the Knesset. The campaign slogan will be "Our ass beats your ass."
If Israelis are feeling at all about their politicians like we're feeling about ours right now, the donkey will win.
Next year, when Jerusalem's Pride rolls around again, I hope the donkeys display some of their famed stubbornness and refuse to represent bestiality, or anything else for that matter. easts of burden, yes. Beasts of symbolic burden, no.
Besides, the animals will essentially be saying, we don't hate gay people. Hate is a human thing. The way you humans keep nursing hate makes it clear you're more stubborn than we are.