The Hebrew month of Elul heralds a period of introspection, culminating with Yom Kippur. Together with the regular new year ruminations of LGBTQ people in Israel, our community leaders must also reflect on the aftereffects of the Tel Aviv attack and what that means for our future.
By name the Open House, we are now also the “Locked House,” with a security guard checking people before allowing them in. The decision to adopt this security measure was complex: not just due to the added financial cost, but also because the JOH is home to Palestinian LGBTQ non-profit Alqaws. Safer, yet sending mixed messages to our public.
It is significant that the attack has drawn substantial attention to widespread homophobia in the country. Less important is “who” the killer is, or the motives (although these facts will also have an impact). We must translate this new awareness into an action plan to fight homophobia, in a way that will bring us closer as a society and not further polarize us.
Alongside keynote speaker President Shimon Peres, three government ministers turned up at the Tel Aviv rally a week after the attack. Can we transform the promises, made by the Education, Culture and Social Welfare ministers that evening, into actions that will fight homophobia and grant our community equal rights? Israeli society must also contend with our concerns, which will (hopefully) have implications on other issues under national debate.
There can be no doubt that this terrible, unthinkable attack at the Bar Noar (Youth Bar) in Tel Aviv will be a turning point for the LGBTQ community in Israel. Two young people were murdered, 13 physically wounded, and many more injured by shock and trauma.
The biggest sin of this outrageous murder will be allowing it to pass without bringing change for our community. The memory of Liz Trobishi and Nir Katz must not be lost through inaction, but should be kept alive through the advancement of civil and legal rights for LGBTQ people and the recruiting of all sectors of Israeli society against the homophobia.
On behalf of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, I wish you and your loved ones a Happy New Year, a year of safety, good health and freedom from the fetters with which others wish to restrain us. Shana Tova – Happy New Year!