Jerusalem LGBT Pride Murder Impacts the Reclaiming of Zion Square

Zion Square
Zion Square gathering, Jerusalem.

Zion Square, one of the landmarks of Jerusalem in Israel, is set to undergo a redesign project, embracing pluralism and tolerance, evolving through circumstances and the passionate activism of several organizations and individuals.

Diverse organizations, ad hoc groups and activists have worked together to bring this extraordinarily progressive plan to fruition, by meeting each Thursday night for over a year and a half, in Zion Square, where they have engaged in informal dialogue and created visibility.

According to an article in Haaretz, “Gay pride murder inspires grassroots movement to reclaim Jerusalem landmark”:

The Jerusalem municipality has decided that, as a major component of its call for a competition for a planned redesign of the square, Zion Square will be turned into “a place that promotes connections, tolerance and mutual respect.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 9.12.24 AMThe decision to brand and design the square this way was motivated in large part by the 2015 stabbing of Shira Banki, a 16-year-old Jerusalem high-school student, by an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man as she walked in the annual Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade in solidarity with the LGBT community. Banki died three days later; five others were wounded in the attack.

As explained on the municipality website:

“Over the past year, ever since the murder of Shira Banki, z”l , Zion Square has become a focus for meeting and dialogue between the different and varied communities that make up the city of Jerusalem, a view of the square as a space of tolerance and inclusion of the other.”

Sarah Weil, a Jerusalem LGBTQ activist, the director of the Women’s Gathering and Project Development Coordinator at the Yerushalmit Movement, a grass-roots organization promoting pluralism and the status of young families in Jerusalem:

“The experience in the square was transformative.  It changed my life and the lives of many people. Thanks to our project, the redesign will be dedicated to the memory of Shira Banki ז”ל, solidifying the values of pluralism and tolerance and giving the LGBTQ community constant recognition in the center of Jerusalem for years to come. “

This great article describes the history of Zion Square and how this plan evolved through the extraordinary activism of these diverse groups of people and organizations, working together:  READ HERE.

By Melanie Nathan, [email protected]


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