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Homophobic Attack in Jerusalem after the Pride Parade

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My name is Gil. I am a former Jerusalemite and currently live in Tel-Aviv. Yesterday, shortly after the pride parade in Jerusalem, I was attacked by two young boys with their fists and a metal object  in the city center of West-Jerusalem because I leaned my head on the lap of my partner. Around 22:00 a large group of us had sat down in a Restaurant in Hillel Street. The street was full of people who came directly from the parade, identified by flyers and ribbons that were around, and the make-up of our table was fairly diverse: two gay couples, a lesbian couple, and also some straight people. At the next table two young boys aged 14, bare-headed (not-religous), sat and stared at us. I noticed their discomfort, and watched them back, making eye contact. They did not eat anything, just sat and watched. At some point they went. Half an hour later, two other friends of mine appeared, Orr and Rotem, and I got up to say hello. Then I saw the boys coming back. It seemed a little suspicious. One of them moved between me and Orr and stood behind me, and a moment later the other boy hit me with his fist: one in the ear, one in the neck. Immediately after belancing myself, I picked up my feet and ran into the restaurant. When I came out a moment later Orr was gone, the table looked stunned. While I  escaped into the restaurant, one boy hit Orr's head with a  metal object, possibly a belt, and the other boy pushed the table. Then they started running away and shouted at the table: "Death to gays, kill all of you." I wasn't present to hear this, following the tradition of my grandma who tought me 'if they hit you, run'.

Orr's neck bled from the blow. My ears were ringing and a red mark appeared on my neck. "Just" a blow. We went to a police car parked nearby and asked to complain. I told the officer that I could easily identify the boys because I watched them for a long time. Orr asked for Polydine. The officer didn't offer to look after the attackers. Instead, he told us to go to the Russian Compound, where one can file a complaint and get medical help. In the Russian Compound the cops announced they didn't have any first-aid bags, and after waiting an hour we gave our testimonies to the duty officer, who promised to do his best.

A fist is just a fist and obviously I'm not the first on to get beaten up in Jerusalem, Israel or Palestine. Also I have no illusions that these boys will not be caught and won't have to explain their actions to anyone. What's the big deal? just A few blows and some dry blood. It could have been much worse. And that's exactly the point: it can get much worse. The pride parade a few hours earlier marked the murder of Liz and Nir in the Tel Aviv gay youth-club last year. Five years ago, exactly in the same parade, a man was stabbed and fortunately survived. One of the best speakers in the rally last night after the march was a trans guy named Ido. He tried to remind the public that the shooting in the youth-club wasn't as unusual as the general public and many members of the LGBT community would like to think. Without ignoring the fact that life in this country is full of violence and oppression directed against many communities and individuals, I would like to say: Do not think that we have achieved that much. Yes, there are some gay men on prime-time TV, the Supreme Court pressured a rejectionist state to accept some LGBT rights, and there are many parties in Tel Aviv. But the change is superficial: like Teflon, it's only a thin lining covering the depths of hostility and hatred incited openly and without apology by politicians, clergy, journalists, teachers and educators and many many others.

I'm angry about the fist that was slammed into my face, but I do not know if I can be angry with these young boys: they just dowhat is being done to them from all directions. As long as 'gay' is a common curse in school yards , as long as the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem marches cattle in the face of the pride parade, denying our humanity, as long as the humanity of trans, gay lesbian and bisexual people is constantly being doubted, maybe it is impossible to be really angry on these two boys, who were just acting out their subordinate role.

It is important and necessary to say that there are some who suffer more then the others from the threat of getting punched next. Many tend to forget that trans men and women, and all of who cross the standard gender norms, are always considered as having to justify themselves, to straighten up or to get a punch or just a juicy curse. Sometimes even from gays (as I've seen more than once). So it is important to mention solidarity is not a luxury, it is a necessity. So when we get to tolerate someone who says' Why do you have to walk in  Jerusalem? Go to Tel Aviv!' or 'do whatever you want at home, but why do you have to brag about it?' We are making a mistake. Those who do not want us in the streets of Jerusalem do not want us anywhere, even if we lock ourselves at home until the end of times. This is what punching someone means: you should disappear. I've lived more years in Jerusalem than these two boys have, and they have no more rights on these streets then I do. Today I no longer live there. It is clear to me that I could also be attacked in Tel Aviv, but at least there, elected officials do not support such attacks.

Public exposure is not easy for me, but I wish to convey these words despite that. I'm not asking for sympathy, or for a faint condemnation of violence (everyone can condemn an act of violence, even Eli Yishai, the head of the religous Shas Party), but for something different: Solidarity and a personal examination of where we give up and open the door for hatred. This punch is also aimed at you, from various LGBT groups and also straight people, as it hit my straight friend Orr, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I did yesterday what I could: I filed a complaint to the police, and I tried unsuccessfully to contact the media. The only thing left for me to do is to ask you to pass these words on and disturb the tranquility of those who think everything is just fine. A punch in the face might have a more immediate effect, as I learned, but words are all I have.

Gil. 30/7/2010


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