By Melanie Nathan, July 30, 2015.
UPDATED: August 02, 2015. I am devastated to report that a beautiful young woman celebrating #PRIDE has been taken from us – Shira Banki, 17, has died of the stab wounds inflicted on her by an anti-gay radical right wing ultra religious fundamentalist at the Jerusalem Pride parade. May her memory be a blessing and hers be the last of such despicable murders. May G-d comfort he parents and the entire land of Israel – where the majority of people respect, accept and love the LGBT community.
The abject intolerance and hate that comes in the name of any form of extremism in religion must end. This is going on somewhere- somehow in every religion on every continent – right now, as we speak – someone is hating gays – and with every hateful breathe someone who deserves their full life – to live in love and peace – is closer to dying. It must end now.
There is much explaining to do on the part of the Israeli authroities – they released an extremist who had the propensity to repeat a crime he had committed previously, failing to provide surveillance or adequate security. The community must demand answers.
Famed U.S. attorney, Roberta Kaplan, who is Jewish, and who represented and won the Edie Windsor marriage equality case in the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. made this comment:
“This is a shonda. Israel is supposed to be a country for all Jews. And the word “all” means “all,” including LGBT people. I have rarely been so ashamed. Netanyahu needs to answer for why this murderer was released from prison without surveillance and why there wasn’t better security in a country with one of the best security services in the world.” READ MORE.
Six people have been injured in a stabbing attacker at Jersualem Gay Pride.
The suspect has been named as Yishai Schlissel, a radical right wing ultra-Orthodox Jew.
Schlissel was sentenced to 12 years in prison for a similar attack in 2005. he was released from prison only three weeks ago. It is believed that the he is the same person who stabbed three people at the same parade in 2005.
According to the ambulance services, two of the injured are in a serious condition
Schlissel was restrained and arrested.
Security was strong at the parade.
However it is quite disconcerting to note that this extremist was even allowed in the vicinity of the parade. One wonders about the conditions of his release, which may have been an early release, and why he was not being monitored considering his propensity to commit the same crime again.
The parade continued after the wounded were taken to a hospital, with protesters chanting “end the violence”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attack contradicted the country’s “basic values”.
“In the state of Israel the individual’s freedom of choice is one of basic values. We must ensure that in Israel, every man and woman lives in security in any way they choose. That’s how we acted in the past and how we’ll continue to act. I wish the wounded a speedy recovery,” he said in a statement.
President Reuven Rivlin condemned the stabbing as a “terrible hate crime”.
“People celebrating their freedom and expressing their identity were viciously stabbed,” he said.
“We must not be deluded, a lack of tolerance will lead us to disaster. We cannot allow such crimes, and we must condemn those who commit and support them.”
Hundreds of police are deployed along the parade route to prevent violence breaking out. Jerusalem police spokesman Asi Ahroni told Reuters there was a “massive presence” of police at the parade but “unfortunately the man managed to pull out a knife and attack”.
Based in the U.S.A. A Wider Bridge released this statement today:
Statement on Violence at Today’s Jerusalem Pride Parade
It is a tragedy that on a day that should be a moment of great pride in Israel, we are once again mourning an act of senseless violence. After a decade of marching with relatively little disturbance, the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance, was yet again the scene of an obscene act of violence, in which the same ultra-Orthodox perpetrator who stabbed three people in 2005, wounded six people in this year’s parade, one critically. A WIder Bridge joins with Jewish and LGBT leaders in Israel and around the world in condemning this horrific act. But we must do more than condemn the violence – we must also look to the ongoing inflammatory statements and rhetoric from some political and religious leaders that allow LGBT people to be seen as the other, as less than human, and to be demonized as the enemy. There is nothing Jewish or moral in the message of baseless hatred that still emanates from some leaders who should know better, and that helps to sow the seeds of violence such as occurred today.
The Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance has become an important symbol in the ongoing struggle for LGBT equality, not only in Israel, but around the world. It is not among the largest of gay pride marches – its 5,000 participants is dwarfed in size by the 180,000 who walked in Tel Aviv Pride last month, and pales in comparison to the millions who line the streets for gay pride in cities like Madrid, Sao Paolo, and San Francisco. The Jerusalem March has a significance far beyond its size. This march for gay pride, held annually since 2002, in the city that is Israel’s capital and the birthplace of the world’s three great religions, sends a message to the world about Israel, and about the possibilities for co-existence, diversity and pluralism in a city that so many different kinds of people treasure as their home. And unlike most large gay pride celebrations, the Jerusalem March is known for the seriousness in its tone and decorum, fitting for the city in which it is held. The march ends with a rally on the lawn outside the Knesset, as Israel’s LGBT community demands to be seen as an important part of the fabric of Israeli society. It is a message that LGBT people exist everywhere in Israel, not only in Tel Aviv, and justice and equality needs to be pervasive throughout the country.
This march would not be permitted in any other capital city in the Middle East. Those of us who love Israel have taken great pride in seeing this parade become such an important event for Israel and for the world. We must ensure not only that the attacker is once again brought to justice, but that the freedom to march peacefully in Jerusalem is protected, and that this parade can continue to be a message to the world that LGBT people are a vibrant and respected part of Israeli society.
By Melanie Nathan