Two people were killed and 13 injured on Saturday night when a masked man opened fire in a refuge for gay people in Tel Aviv. The attack has stunned the gay community there, leading to a mass movement both in the city and on the Net.
A 17-year-old girl and a 26-year-old counsellor were killed when the gunman opened fire. He then fled on foot and has yet to be identified by police. If he targeted the gay community specifically as is thought, the incident will be Israel's worst ever homophobic attack.
"No bar has closed but there are no big parties going on"
Alon Rom is a Time Out reporter in Tel Aviv. He participated in the march that took place after the shooting.
I arrived at the gay centre after midnight. When people heard on TV what happened, they started flocking to the centre and sending messages through Facebook to call for a protest. At 1am between 800 and a thousand people marched in Allenby Street, the main street of Tel Aviv, from the place of the shooting to the main gay centre and spontaneous speeches were made. The gay nightlife here has adjusted itself since the shooting. The bars aren't closed but there are no big parties going on, just quiet music to allow people to come, meet and talk about what happened.
We feel that people are responding with the gay community, that we are not alone. People know the importance of the gay community for Tel Aviv, and its enormous economic contribution. The gay community in Tel Aviv is the biggest in Israel.
For politicians, the tendency is usually not to identify themselves with the community but Tzipi Livni, who attended the rally on Sunday, is acting quite differently and showing her support. There hasn't been much support from the Likud however although the minister of education was at one of the funerals and came to the scene of the shooting just after the crime. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn't even use the term ‘gay' or ‘lesbian'. And then you have the ridiculous allegations from members of the Shas party who blamed an earthquake and bird flu on homosexuals a few years ago".
In front of the centre just after the shooting. Published August 2 by Lizzy the Lezzy.
Gathering in Tel Aviv the day after. Published August 2 by Lizzy the Lezzy.
"Tel Aviv is a liberal city where gays and lesbians are free to hold hands"
Ruth Solwyn is a film maker and web designer in Tel Aviv.
We're in shock because this is the first time that it happens in Tel Aviv. A few years ago there was a stabbing during gay pride in Jerusalem but we felt safe in Tel Aviv - it's a liberal city where gays and lesbians are free to hold hands. They have a few bars, a new gay centre (the one where the shooting took place is just a basement rented out for gay youths) and a gay-friendly medical clinic. They also get a good rap in the media. In my opinion, this is an isolated incident and does not reflect a homophobic atmosphere in Tel Aviv.
On the contrary, Jerusalem is much more religious and thus conservative in terms of sexuality. The gay community there tends to keep a low profile. They have pride marches but often have problems with the Orthodox Jews who do not like it at all.
Around three years ago I created cartoon character Lizzy the Lezzy because I thought there wasn't enough lesbian-friendly content by lesbians and for lesbians. I receive a lot encouragement from gays and lesbians but I also get some nasty comments from homophobic people and recently received a death threat."
The march in Tel Aviv just after the shooting
The gathering that Tzipi Livni attended on Sunday
An extract from Livni’s speech: “We need to give strength to children who have to tell their parents ‘I’m gay’ or ‘I’m a lesbian’. This day should also give strength to all members of the gay community for them to live their lives”. Published August 2 by "MrYuvikk"
Solidarity gathering in Jerusalem