Photo: Yaron Brener
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar
Photo: Yaron Brener

We won't turn into Iran

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar vows to protect freedom in wake of gay center attack

Until this murder case isn’t solved and the killer’s identity is discovered, we’ll continue to ask: What prompts a human being to massacre teenagers, children really? What was the motive for this demonic act?


At the site of the attack in the heart of Tel Aviv, a two-minute walk from my house, I mostly saw consternation and shock in the eyes of the crowd and passersby. Eyes were teary and hearts cried. As a Tel Avivian, and as a person who had only experienced magical moments on Nachmani Street, where the crime took place, I felt a sour sense of shame rising within me.


What’s happening to Israeli society that leads us from one horrific display to another? What can prompt a person to indiscriminately kill boys and girls who arrived at a site meant to grant them support and security?


We need to be cautious before police conclude the investigation. However, one way or another, waiting for the case to be solved cannot be a pretext for evading a moral obligation. For Israeli society, this is an opportunity to clearly and unequivocally define its commitment to freedom and tolerance. For public officials and leaders, this is the time to pledge that we will protect Israel’s character and future as a free society. Because wherever a person is attacked or humiliated because of his lifestyle, choices, tendencies, or indecision, it is not only the freedom and dignity of that person that are being undermined.  

Lighting a commemorative candle for the dead (Photo: George Ginsburg)


Freedom is the taste of life. The freedom of each and every one of us to choose how to live our lives, based on our choices. The willingness to defend a different way of life is the true test of a free society. The hatred, intolerance, zealotry, and violence –all related to each other – are the great enemies of freedom. We need to show intolerance to them. There can be no compromise between them and freedom. We must choose between them.


It isn’t simple. The enemies of freedom are known for their zealotry, while its lovers are known for their moderation. However, the protection of freedom requires determination. The struggle by members of the homo-lesbian community to live their lives based on their choices is not only their struggle. Just like the struggle for equality between the sexes is not only a matter for women. We shall keep that in mind.


Israeli society made significant progress in recent decades in accepting the other. Yet this does not mean the task had been completed. Under the surface simmer de-legitimization for various communities and their rights.


Many amongst us suffer from unbearable mental distress not because they sinned; only because of what they are. Let’s look at them, reach out to them, and tell them that we accept them the way they are. We are them, and they are us.


Israel will achieve great things only if it will be free. Israel is not Iran and it will not turn into Iran. This is what we’ll promise our children. This is what we’ll promise the children who survived the massacre Saturday night. This is what we shall promise to those murdered on Nachmani Street. And we’ll deliver on this promise.


Gideon Sa’ar is Israel’s education minister


פרסום ראשון: 08.04.09, 07:00
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