The Bar Noar gay youth center murders changed the reality of life not only for
many LGBTQ people in Israel, but also for civil society
Last week we were informed that three suspects had been
apprehended by the police, and a gag order was imposed by the court. Despite the
gag order, police officers leaked information to the press at a rate that made
people suggest the police should be getting their own float in the Tel Aviv
Pride Parade, which took place two days later.
We now know that four
years ago the murderer – a small-time offender – became convinced one of his
family members had been sexually abused by an activist at the Bar Noar center.
The suspect is accused of committing the shooting in the Bar
Noar that Saturday night after not finding Ganon there.
The case was
solved after one of the accomplices, currently a prisoner, came to the police
and confessed the crime.
The murder at the Bar Noar shook the Israeli
LGBTQ community in a way that can be felt even now, four years later.
an individual level the sense of personal safety was compromised – many people
do not feel safe when they attend social events or public LGBTQ gatherings. In
addition, dramatic influence on the level of civil society organizations was
When I first came to the JOH (Jerusalem Open House for
Pride and Tolerance) 10 years ago, the door was open, as its name suggested, and
anyone could enter. Today the door is shut and an intercom system locks it
Entrance is permitted only after identification by a staff
member and a check by a security guard. The Open House is not only closed but
also sealed behind lock and key.
This effect is not unique to the
Jerusalem organization. All around the country LGBTQ organizations were amazed
to discover that their security costs had jumped overnight in a way that put the
longevity of the organizations at risk. Organizations’ budgets dramatically
changed: the bulk now not being directed toward activities, but rather to
Eternal disgrace is reserved for the Phoenix insurance
company, which refused to provide insurance to IGY (Israeli Gay
The capture of Jack Tytell was supposed to bring back the peace
if the LGBTQ community.
Tytell had sent mail threats to JOH in 2005 and
2006, as well as envelopes containing white powder, and handed out leaflets
explaining how to build your very own Molotov cocktail (the “Schlissel Special”
was named after Yishai Schlissel, who stabbed three marchers during the
Jerusalem Pride Parade in 2005).
On top of all that, Tytell was also
charged with placing a bomb on the street of Noa Sattath’s (former JOH executive
director) parents’ home.
Despite all the charges Tytell was facing, the
Bar Noar murders remained unsolved until last week when an incarcerated
small-time offender who felt he had been neglected by his felon friends came to
the police to rat them out.
In the LGBTQ community we pray and hope this
tragic episode is behind us. After justice is served the healing process will
finally begin. It started four years ago, when JOH lay leadership decided to
move Jerusalem Pride to August 1 to commemorate the murder annually, and when
Tel Aviv’s Aguda opened the Nir Center and called on people to report homophobic
attacks and violence.
Many years will pass before the door of the Open
House re-opens, but I hope this week’s publication will bring us one step
closer.The writer is executive director of The Jerusalem Open House for
Pride and Tolerance.
The Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance will take place
on Thursday, August 1.
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