Marco Cappato: To the Editor of the Jerusalem Post

Friday, as a Member of the European Parliament, and with a delegation of the Transnational Radical Party, we will march in Jerusalem for the World Pride. In the year 2000, when Rome was celebrating the Catholic Jubileum, together with thousands of people from all over the world, I took to the streets of the Eternal City not to protest, defy or deride cultures, traditions or religious beliefs, but to affirm the right to choose one's way of life.

On November 7, in a piece in the Jersusalem Post, the Mayor of the City wrote that "this is the time to show genuine tolerance and maturity and cancel this march in the heart of Jerusalem, for the sake of us all. Such a decision would strengthen anew the mutual recognition and understanding that has prevailed among residents of the city".

I fully understand the concerns of the First Citizen of a town that is at the crossroad of millenary cultures and religious traditions that is struggling daily to ascertain the peaceful coexistence of people with different backgrounds in one of the hottest spots in the world, but I would like to stress that it is not just "tolerance" that marchers are asking for - or should be treated with - rather the right of every and each citizen to live according to their personal desires as long as they do not harm anybody: a right that can be enjoyed only in a legal framework that does not discriminate them vis-à-vis the rest of society. The responsible way in which the organizers accepted all the conditions proposed by the police is a garanty that the parade will not be just about gay rights, but will be a respectful act in defence of liberalism and the rule of law.

Israel represents a solitary example of democratic governance in a tormented region and, throughout her existence, she has been able to face all sorts of aggressions coming from neighboring countries. This time Jerusalem is asked not to defend herself from malicious attacks from outside, but to host a peaceful demonstration that wants to emphasize the need to promote widespread reforms to allow the full enjoyment of individual rights for all, not special treatments for categories that need to be "tolerated" because not "in line" with the rest of society. To allow this to happen in a critically balanced context - especially in days where violence is ongoing - would represent yet another example of how Israel is capable, when put to the test, to respond participating rather than withdrawing or abstaining in a game that is vital to her concrete, as well as symbolic, survival.

For almost 20 years, Marco Pannella, founder of the Transnational Radical Party, has urged Brussels, as well as Jerusalem, to initiate a process to achieve Israel's full EU membership. After the conflict of this Summer, Mr. Pannella intends to launch an international nonviolent initiative to promote peace for, and from, the Middle East. Yet peace cannot be achieve simply defusing conflicts; in order to be durable, peace should be pursued in a dialog uebased not on the affirmation of national, ethnic or religious identities but on the ascertainment of a shared rule of law. This is the political wisdom and maturity that needs to be shown Friday, I am confident that in the end common sense will prevail and mutual understanding and cohabitation will remain the law of the holy land.