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Ayala Katz. 'Use disaster for positive things' Photo: Dalit Shacham
Ayala Katz. 'Use disaster for positive things' Photo: Dalit Shacham
 
Nir Katz. Remembered
Nir Katz. Remembered 
 
Shir Sela. 'No lessons drawn' Photo: Dalit Shacham
Shir Sela. 'No lessons drawn' Photo: Dalit Shacham
 
 

Gay community slams PM for breaking promise

Four months after youth center shooting attack, representatives of homosexual and lesbian community say Netanyahu pledged to recognize them as terror victims but failed to do so

Daniel Edelson
Published: 12.02.09, 08:59 / Israel News

Four months after two people were massacred at a gay and lesbian youth club in Tel Aviv, the friends and relatives of victim Nir Katz, who worked as a youth counsel, still have many reasons to be angry.

 

The shooter – who also murdered 16-year-old Liz Trubeshi – has not been caught, and the promise made to them by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – to recognize the people injured in the attack as terror victims – has not been kept. In addition, the public discourse about the rights of the homosexual and lesbian community in Israel has faded away.

 

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Despite all this, anger and frustration were not part of a seminar on tolerance held Tuesday in Katz's memory at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, where he had studied for a bachelor's degree in computer science.

 

"It's true that many things have not been solved, but this is not the time to launch struggles," Nir's mother, Ayala Katz, told Ynet. According to Katz, who lost her husband in the first Tze'elim Disaster in 1990, "I have never been in this place of rising up against the State. We must fight for, not against. We must find the way to fight and convince in the appropriate manner and in the right time."

 

Katz admits she did not expect the promises made by the prime minister to be realized. "Without being politically correct, I can say that I assumed the government would not make the next move… The government does not always help those it promised to help."

 

Shaul Gonen, the gay youth club's manager, made harsher statements at the seminar: "All of Netanyahu's promises have not been kept. Mr. Netanyahu, your word is worth nothing. All the promises for aid have not been realized."

 

According to Gonen, despite all the difficulties, the club's activities continue, and even more than before the attack. "We were afraid that the youth wouldn't come, but twice the number of people arrived. These teens have gone through enough crap in their life, so they couldn't care less about this shooting."

 

But not everyone is able to return to normal. One of Katz's Shir Sela, 16, of Ramat Gan, was at the youth club on that dreadful night, but left five minutes before the shooting. Since then she has only returned to the place once.

 

"I have this terrible fear which has not ceased, even four months later," she says. "I find it difficult to be there. I am angry with the police. They found the murderer of the Ushrenko family, but couldn't find Nir's murderer. I am also angry with the government for failing to draw lessons from this murder, as they did from the Rabin murder. True, this wasn't a prime minister's murder, but it was a murder of a citizen of the State of Israel."

 

Nir's mother, on the other hand, says that catching the murderer is not her top priority. In a way, she was even relieved when it turned out that Yaakov (Jack) Teitel, who the police initially suspected had committed the gay club murder, was not the shooter.

 

"I was worried by the rumors," she says, "because an affiliation of the murderer with a certain camp may have led to a war between sectors. It's important to find the murderer, and I believe this will happen, but my handling of the situation does not depend on this. I deal with the pain over the loss and the hope that we will be able to use this disaster for positive things, like this seminar."

 

Naama Lanir contributed to this report

 

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