The effect of the Bar Noar killings

The murder at the Bar Noar shook the Israeli LGBTQ community in a way that can be felt even now, four years later.

Bar Noar gay youth center in Tel Aviv 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Bar Noar gay youth center in Tel Aviv 370
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
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 organizations.
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.
On 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 also apparent.
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 automatically.
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 insurance.
Eternal disgrace is reserved for the Phoenix insurance company, which refused to provide insurance to IGY (Israeli Gay Youth).
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.