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Murder scene in Tel Aviv Photo: Avi Cohen
Murder scene in Tel Aviv Photo: Avi Cohen
Paying their respects Photo: George Ginsberg
Paying their respects Photo: George Ginsberg

World shocked by gay center attack

Foreign organizations appalled at Saturday's killing spree in gay lesbian youth center; quick to offer support, sympathy to Israeli gay community. Open House director says, 'From their point of view violence within Jewish people surprising, horrifying phenomenon'. Foreign media provide wide coverage of incident

Yael Levy
Published: 08.02.09, 16:47 / Israel News

The Israeli gay and lesbian community received wide-spread support on Sunday from several international organizations following the shooting attack at the gay and lesbian youth center in Tel Aviv Saturday night. The incident cost the lives of Nir Katz and Liz Trubeshi and injured many others. Prominent foreign media outlets covered the incident extensively.

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Yonatan Gher, director of Jerusalem's Open House Pride and Tolerance Organization told Ynet that he received sympathetic responses from several international organizations following the attack.


"The organization that expressed the most empathy was the Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST). They were very in tune with the level of violence we experienced in the past since they visited the 2005 gay parade in Jerusalem, in which marchers were stabbed," he said.


According to Gher, the world sees the murder attack on Saturday as a major step up in hostilities directed against the gay community. He said that in spite of the stabbing incident four years ago, up until now organizations such as CBST viewed Israel as a country that has not yet reached the violence level against the gay community seen in the US and the rest of the world.


"Now Israel is beginning to become more similar in their eyes to other places in the world, and they wish to share their experience. From their point of view, this type of violence within the Jewish people is a surprising and shocking phenomenon," he said.


Other Israeli gay and lesbian organizations received support from their international counterparts. The head of Israel's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth Association, Yaniv Weisman said that the European Outnow Organization has contacted its activists in order to lend support. In addition, a spokesman for Israel's Gay and Lesbian Naional Asociation said they received similar support from the GME Middle East gay community website, as well as from the World Congress of Gay Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews.


Adir Steiner, one of the central pillars in the gay community in Israel and coordinator of Tel Aviv pride events, got word of the shooting while in Copenhagen as a representative of the city of Tel Aviv to the gay Olympics. "Over the past week we have painted Israel on every possible podium as a wonderful place for homosexuals, lesbians and transgenders. This idyllic state which we wanted so badly to believe in exploded in our faces," he said.


Steiner further stated, "At this moment I think the main thing that should be voiced is that no murderer will get us back in the closet. We shall proudly keep fighting for our right to live our lives without fear, even if today the road before us seems longer than ever."


'Tel Aviv bubble burst'

Steiner also added that whoever shot at youths in the center meant to burst the "idyllic bubble" that is Tel Aviv. "These shots were directed at all of us. The message is clear: Someone, somewhere is lurking, waiting for all of us with a loaded gun, wishing us dead. This is very serious and is not just a problem of the community but of Israeli society at large."


The murderous killing spree on the gay and lesbian youth center in Tel Aviv received wide coverage in foreign media around the world. The Los Angels Times, which reported the incident on its website's homepage wrote, "The crime shook the freewheeling coastal city, which has a reputation as a relatively tolerant place for gay people and focused criticism on Israel's ultra-Orthodox religious community for calling homosexuality an abomination."


The British Broadcasting Corporation, which reported extensively on the manhunt after the shooter, also emphasized that the attack on the gay center was Israel's worst hate crime against the community. Swedish newspaper Sydsvenska Dagbladet reported the incident as the headlining story on its website.


Nir Magal contributed to this report


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