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Windows were smashed Thursday morning
Photo: Yaron Brener
Violent protests Wednesday night - police fear situation will deteriorate
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Synagogue vandalized as gay parade controversy picks up steam
Tel Aviv police pursue unidentified persons who smashed windows of Geulat Yisrael synagogue in Tel Aviv. Left behind graffiti warning: 'If we don't march in J'lem – you won't walk in Tel Aviv'. High Court to deliberate issue again
The formidable snowball effect of the pride parade controversy reached the normally sedate Tel Aviv Sheinkin area early Thursday morning. An unidentified group of people smashed in the window panes of the Geulat Yisrael synagogue and sprayed graffiti on the wall warning the temple-goers that "If we don't march in Jerusalem – you won't walk in Tel Aviv."

 

Reports of anonymous persons hurling rocks at the synagogue starting coming in at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, police from the Yarkon district arrived at the scene and have opened an investigation into the incident. Searches are being conducted in the area for the vandals, who left behind considerable damage but no casualties.


The writing on the wall (Photo: Yaron Brener) 

Sheinkin street, renowned for its urban chic clothing boutiques and stylish cafés, is home to members of both the ultra-orthodox and gay communities. The issue is being treated with the utmost severity by Tel Aviv's police who fear a possible retaliation from the haredim. Security has been upped to the maximum in the final week before the Jerusalem parade next week.

 

Zaka chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav filed a petition against the parade with the High Court of Justice Thursday morning. Meshi-Zahav claims that the parade will result in violence, and therefore may jeopardize public safety. And so the proverbial hot-potato has been tossed back into the hands of the High Court, which authorized the parade in its current venue.

 

Dozens of haredim demonstrated against the parade on Wednesday night in Jerusalem. The protestors hurled rocks at police forces, injuring three policemen. Eight protestors were detained for questioning. Two additional protestors were arrested after they assaulted a taxi driver.

 

Jerusalem Police Chief Maj. Gen. Ilan Franco has held a series of legal consultations with the general attorney's office regarding the pride parade amidst growing concern within the police that the parade may lead to violent incidents.

 

'Synagogue was desecrated'

Worshippers who arrived at the synagogue for the morning prayer expressed shock over the act of vandalism. "I feel terrible," Aharon Dahuh told Ynet. "This is something that should not be done. This act crosses the red line."

 

Dahuh recounted: "I arrived at 5:05 a.m. to open the synagogue. I walked through the door and saw shards of broken glass and stones… why do such a thing in a synagogue? Good God, this is very painful for me. In the end, we are all Jews."

 

Yitzhak Bir, the manager of the synagogue, said: "When I came here I saw that they sprayed hate messages on the walls, the place was filled with broken glass. I then found out that two heavy rocks were thrown through the windows. This is a desecration of the synagogue."

 

"It's bewildering that this synagogue of all places was vandalized, a vibrant synagogue which serves all the young people in the area," he said. "I think that had such a thing happened in London or any other place in Europe, the State itself would have wreaked havoc and call for a stop to this lawlessness and vandalism," he added.

 

Itay Pinkas, a member of the Tel Aviv City Council and a homosexual himself, strongly condemned the act and said that "this is malicious vandalism and may even be a provocation aimed at muddying the community's name. The community's struggle has always promoted the values of tolerance, understanding and consideration for others, and acts of violence and vandalism such as this have never been and would never become a tool in the just struggle for full civil equality."

 

Aviram Zino contributed to this article

 


First published: 02.11.06, 11:45
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