A year after the bloody shooting attack at the gay and lesbian youth center in Tel Aviv, some 15 teens who were present at the night of the attack participated in an organized trip to Germany.
As part of their trip, the young delegates will meet with Berlin police officials, speak with authority representatives, visit tourist attractions and meet members of the local LGBT community.
The trip, which kicked off last weekend, was initiated by German organization Maneo, as part of a campaign to support Tel Aviv's gay community after last year's fatal attack.
On Wednesday, the organizers held a memorial ceremony for those killed in the attack – instructor Nir Katz and Liz Trubishi – near a monument commemorating the gay homosexual victims of the Nazi regime.
Nir Katz's mother, Ayala, who joined the delegation, said her son visited Berlin a number of times and was extremely touched by the monument that commemorated the European Jews killed by the Nazis.
'Berlin also deals with homophobia' (Photo: Assaf Uni)
Katz added that just as the Third Reich murdered Jews for their religion, her son was killed because he was a homosexual.
"I wait for the day when everyone understands that all people are human beings," she said in front of a small audience, mainly consisting of German teenagers, journalists and delegation members. "Only idiots murder people for who they are," she added.
"The mere fact we are here, together, united once again, more than a year after (the attack), sends a message of triumph," said one of the teens who witnessed the attack, "We see this visit as a symbolic event, the complete opposite from the attack."
Another delegation member noted that "Berlin has a feeling of openness – much more than in Israel."
'Homophobia threatens democracy'But a Berlin municipality official noted that his city was also dealing with violence directed against the gay community. "Just because our mayor is a declared homosexual, doesn't mean we don't have problems of homophobia," he said.
These issues are also being addressed by Maneo. "We run anti-racism programs in schools, which include workshops where students create signs and posters against homophobia," said Maneo Director Bastian Finke.
Maneo also tries to constantly encourage police to seriously address attacks on members of the gay community. "For the past 18 years, Berlin's police have been employing special officers that deal with complaints related to homophobia-related attacks," he said.
"One of the community's biggest achievements was legislation that requires every police officer to report on cases of homophobia to the central authority, which is in charge of preserving the German constitution," Finke noted.
"This way, we send a message to the public that homophobia threatens the democratic foundations of Germany," he said.
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