Sunday, August 2, 2009

Protest after shooting at Israeli LBGT Youth Club, 2 deaths

"First it was violence against Palestinians, then it was violence against Israeli peace activists, now it is also violence against homosexuals. You know where it starts, but you have no idea where it ends!"

Joseph Dana/ibn Ezra

Yesterday there was a shocking and horrifying terrorist attack against the gay and lesbian community that killed 2 young people and injured 15 more at a gay community center in the heart of Tel Aviv. The shooter is still out on the loose so although we don’t know his identity yet, it is easy to speculate it is an extreme rightwing and/or religious person. This is a hate crime and the clearest example of a terrorist attack since the shooter entered an unmarked building where he knew a meeting was taking place and it was in a basement, where the youth had no where to run to. The Israeli media should and must call it that. It doesn’t have to be an Israeli-Palestinian clash for it to warrant the term “terrorist attack.”

At the recent gay pride parade in Jerusalem last month – massively diminished in size and vigor since the 2005 stabbing of several people by a religious Jew – a small but noisy crowd chanted anti-gay slurs and held signs calling gays beasts and perverts. Two prominent figures of the settlement movement that we am unfortunately all too familiar with were there. Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel, both of whom live in the Israeli-occupied Hebron area and have, on repeated occasions, attacked Jewish-Israeli peace activists. In addition to physical violence, we have seen and heard Ben-Gvir verbally abuse Ezra Nawi for being homosexual, calling him a pervert and accusing him of raping little children. This is not isolated. In most places where we have come into contact with settlers, we have heard them equate our leftwing views with homosexuality, calling us disgusting and wimpy liberals who like it “up the ass.”

This morning, just hours after last night’s terror attack in Tel Aviv, the Palestinian Hanoun family of Sheikh Jarrah was physically evicted from their home by Israeli police and in their place, Jewish settler families (comprised mostly of teenage boys resembling classic hilltop youth) entered in their place. It is no coincidence that these events happened so closely together, as clearly the police and settlers who took over these houses in East Jerusalem are aware the media would be dominated by the murders in Tel Aviv.

Take these recent incidents and add them to the violent weekly protests of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem against the opening of parking garages; the violent protests and death threats with regard to the ultra-Orthodox mother who obviously neglected her child; the pipe bomb that exploded at Professor and peace activist Ze’ev Sternhall’s home last September; rightwing Knesset members organizing protests in Arab villages and participating in rallies shouting racist slurs against Obama that include the presence of outlawed Kahane enthusiasts; the settlers continued violence against Palestinians and Israelis and the IDF in the occupied West Bank, which includes children barely potty-trained throwing rocks at fellow Jews; and the murder of Yitzhak Rabin by Yigal Amir – and what you get is a clear picture of a trend that combines religious, messianic Judaism with the settling of the Land of Israel with violent rejections of democracy, liberalism and equal rights that is being waged against gays, lesbians, peace activists, academics and of course all Palestinians.

First it was violence against Palestinians, then it was violence against Israeli peace activists, now it is also violence against homosexuals. You know where it starts, but you have no idea where it ends!

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