As Israel reels from the aftermath of the Jerusalem gay pride parade stabbing and prepares to lay to rest 16-year-old victim Shira Banki, one leader in the religious gay community says that preventing further attacks like this will require a huge change in the Israeli religious establishment.
Daniel Jonas, the chairperson of Havruta, an organization for the religious gay community in Israel, said that stabber Yishai Shlissel "did not operate alone." In an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Monday, he said that the attack was committed with the backing of rabbis, members of Knesset and leaders in the religious community who have failed in the past to denounce anti-gay sentiment and continue to criticize the gay pride parade's existence. For example, Jonas described a recent article after the attack which said "two horrible things happened on Thursday: the pride [parade] and the stabbings."
He said that this mindset leads people to believe that violence is an acceptable way to stop a gay pride march.
He demanded that leaders in the religious community allow the gay people to have the place they deserve. "Religious leaders have to accept us as part of the society," he said. "You have to start and come to talk to us."
Though Jonas did not comment on Shlissel's religion-based motives for the attack, he did criticize police for not keeping track of the attacker, who publicly published a letter saying he would attack the parade
following h. "How come a person who was released from jail just a few weeks before and published statements ... [how come] police just let him walk around next to the pride parade?"
Jonas mourned Banki's death and all the others who were injured in the stabbings. He said that he can only hope some good will come from all this tragedy and that it will spur "a new chapter for LGBT society in Israel and religious society in particular."
He praised Rabbi Benny Lau and others for going on stage in front of a crowd Saturday night to denounce the attacks. He also noted that he was part of a group on Sunday that was invited to meet with Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett
, who Jonas said was very interested in hearing what the gay community had to say.
"People maybe are starting to realize that something needs to change," he said. "I hope we will succeed to see a better place for all of us."