Tel Aviv Commemorates Gay Youth Center Shooting Anniversary

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Aug 3, 2010

Marchers in Tel Aviv marked the first anniversary of the shooting rampage at a gay youth center that left two dead and injured thirteen.

A masked gunman burst into Tel Aviv's Barnoar gay and lesbian youth club on Aug. 1, 2009, and opened fire on the teens that were meeting there at the time. The attack left 26-year-old Nir Katz and 16-year old Liz Trobishi dead, and another thirteen youths injured--some so badly that a year later they remain physically incapacitated.

Thousands partook in the march, reported on Aug. 1 of this year. The route led through the city and terminated at a rally, which was attended by some of the survivors of the shooting attack, a government official, and families members of the two murdered youths.

Israel's education minister, Gideon Sa'ar, addressed the crowd at the rally, announcing that the nation's school curriculum would address the issue of bias crimes. "We are working to ensure that violence due to homophobia will be recognized as violence based on hatred of the other, of the different," Sa'ar told the rally's attendees. "Educational material has been and is being prepared for studying sexual identity and gender in schools and high schools."

Sa'ar was heckled by some of those who attended the rally because no government officials had attended the annual Pride march in Jerusalem a few days before, reported Y Net News.

"Why didn't you come to Jerusalem?" hecklers shouted at Sa'ar. "We should have rights in Jerusalem too. Youths have a right to be gay in Jerusalem too."

The July 29 Pride march in Jerusalem--described in an Associated Press article as "the longest gay pride parade" to take place in Israel--was, said one organizer, "first of all a march of mourning" that marked the first anniversary of the lethal attack in Tel Aviv. Said the organizer, Yonatan Gher, "and at the end we will try to put the mourning behind us and look forward to the coming year, and declare tonight the beginning of gay rights year."

The gunman has never been identified, and no arrests have been made in the case, but Israeli authorities continue to work on the case. Reports of an unspecified clue as to the killer's identity have appeared in the GLBT online press; claimed in a June 22 posting that some sort of evidence had been obtained from the crime scene, but said that authorities have imposed a "gag order" on the case. The article speculated that the evidence may have been biological in nature, and may have pointed toward an individual belonging to the Kohan tribe.

Meantime, the survivors have moved forward in their lives. Twelve of the attack's victims expressed their pain, grief, and trauma through art, reported Y Net News in a June 11 article. The artwork was collected into an exhibit of forty paintings and drawings.

"The drawings have no gloomy images," said artist Ziv Tidhar, who served as a mentor for the youths as they undertook the project. "The teenagers grabbed onto life in a surprising way; I have never seen such levels of honesty, even in artists' exhibitions." Added Tidhar, "There is a very wide spectrum of expressions--from the murder itself, and all the way to the experiences that happened later, including a first romantic encounter after the murder.

"The youths were very open and frank, and even expressed happiness and joy of life," Tidhar continued. "I entered this project with many apprehensions, because it is a process that requires walking on eggshells, but I came out encouraged."

"In fact it was the first time most of us got together after the incident," said one young woman, a 17-year-old survivor of the attack identified only as A, who created her artwork using her non-dominant hand due to nerve damage that has left several fingers of her dominant hand paralyzed. "We started drawing and sharing; we were asked to draw the things we remember most about that night and focus on them," added the young woman. "I drew the Microwave that was shattered by a bullet, after it went through Nir's body."

The young woman continued, "The physical pain is almost gone, but the feeling of loss never leaves me. Once in a while I go through fits of rage and I wait until they pass. Sometimes I look behind me, fearing the murderer might be there, waiting for me."

Next: The Right Weighs In


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