If anyone took to the Tel Aviv streets last weekend for Gay Pride they probably noticed the striking diversity of Tel Aviv’s gay community. Tel Aviv has long been one of the most gay friendly cities in the Middle East, but this year it has become the most popular gay travel destination. Travel experts cite Israel’s great weather, vibrant club culture, acceptance of the LGBT community, and a concerted effort by the Israeli government to attract gay visitors as factors leading to Tel Aviv’s popularity for gay tourists. It is estimated that the Municipality of Tel Aviv spends about one third of its marketing budget in targeting gay tourists. Jewish News of the honor has pleased many Tel Aviv residents who eagerly relish foreign travel revenue.
Jewish news of Tel Aviv’s gay friendly distinction has drawn heated responses from many pro-Palestinian groups who claim that Israel is using its tolerance of gays to hide its unfair treatment of Palestinians. Several intellectuals have written pieces on the subject for the New York Times, the New Republic, and other publications. It is true Palestinians do not enjoy the same rights as Israelis in Tel Aviv but that has not stopped many gay Palestinians from seeking refuge in the city siting extreme intolerance of homosexuality in the West Bank and Gaza.