The tension in Israel with Lebanon and the Gaza Strip has nothing to do with foreign policy, the West, or terrorism, it is down to the gay community, according to some orthodox rabbis.

Religious clerics in the region have already spoken out against the upcoming Jerusalem WorldPride march, but now the event is being blamed as a cause of the latest tension in the Middle East.

Rabbi Pinchas Winston told the WorldNetDaily website, “Why does this war break out this week, all of sudden with little warning? Because this is the exact week the Jewish people are trying to decide whether the gay pride parade should take place in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

“God has told the Jewish people, ‘If you are not going to fight for my honour, you will be forced to fight for your own honour.'”

Rabbi Lazer Brody told the site, “When God’s presence is in the camp, nothing can happen to the Jewish people, but If the Jewish people bring impurity into the camp of Israel, this chases away God’s presence.

“The Torah is the ultimate book of human rights, giving each individual the right to free choice, what a person does behind closed doors is at one’s own risk, but to partake of that behaviour in public spreads the impurity to the entire camp.”

Gay Rabbi Mark Solomon earlier reacted to criticism of the event, he told PinkNews.co.uk: “The true sodomites, in Jewish tradition, are not homosexuals, but those who show selfish intolerance of visitors or anyone who is different. The recent history of Jerusalem has been of a gradual takeover by ultra-Orthodox Jews who make everyone else feel unwelcome.

“WorldPride is doing everyone a favour by reminding us that Jerusalem is a universal city, as the prophets foresaw, to which all the nations will stream seeking justice and peace.”

Jerusalem Open House, the organisers of the event reacted to the conflict earlier this week, a statement read, “Our hearts go to all the people affected by the violence, as we continue to hope that peace will prevail. As Jerusalemites, we are acutely aware of the complexities of the reality that we face in our city and in the region.

“We feel that these days, optimistic messages speaking for tolerance and against violence — as are indeed the core messages of the Jerusalem WorldPride events — are even more significant than during calmer times.”

Violence escalated in the region today as Israeli forces searched for the location of Hezbollah’s weapons, marking a week since the targeting of militants in Lebanon began.

WorldPride runs from August 6-12 2006