Only 20 MKs attend Knesset debate on gay center attack

Gay MK Horowitz calls on PM and education minister to give the education system the tools to deal with prejudices.

police gay shooting 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
police gay shooting 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Only 20 MKs attended Monday's special Knesset plenum debate on Saturday night's deadly shooting attack at a Tel Aviv center for gay youth. Gay MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar to give the education system the tools to deal with prejudices for the sake of education, democracy and tolerance. "It's inconceivable that in the state of Israel, there are entire sectors in which the issue is taboo in their education establishments," he said. During an interview on Army Radio Sunday morning, Horovitz had said, "The Knesset must declare that this was a terror attack against the whole of Israeli society and our right to live freely." "I get weekly complaints from people in various sectors, mainly haredi and Arab, of threats, discrimination and attacks," Horovitz said. "If you just take a look at certain Web sites and talkbacks, hear the public discourse and hear what educators say, you are shocked by the level of incitement." He said the fact that the location of the center had been disclosed and that the murderer knew exactly where to go were serious blows to the gay community. "We are always trying to find a discreet place... it isn't a pub or a club, it's a basement apartment used for many years as a community center... the murderer knew exactly where to go," he said, adding that the secrecy of the destination "blew up in our faces." Stressing that the murderer had not been caught and the motive had still not been determined, the Meretz MK said, however, that the attack appeared to be "the result of incitement of entire communities against us" Netanyahu on Sunday condemned the shooting attack and promised to bring the perpetrator to justice. "I unequivocally condemn the shocking murder," Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. "I have spoken with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and stand by the police in searching for and finding the killer. We will bring him to justice and will prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law." Netanyahu sent his condolences to the families of the two people killed in the attack and wished the wounded a speedy recovery. "I say to the Israeli people: We are a democratic country, we are a country of tolerance, a country of laws, and we must respect every person, whoever and wherever he is," he said. President Shimon Peres released a statement condemning "the dreadful murder committed yesterday in Tel Aviv against teenagers and young people" as "a murder that a cultured and enlightened people cannot accept." "Murder and hate are the two most terrible crimes in society," Peres continued. "Police must make a supreme effort to capture the loathsome murderer and the people must join together in condemning this despicable act." Ministers rushed to join in the condemnation, with Vice Premier Silvan Shalom describing the incident as a "terror attack." "This is a terrible and grave incident, where young people are hurt for no fault of their own," he added. "This cannot be called anything other than a terror attack, and it necessitates thorough investigation and the bringing of the murderer to justice." Defense Minister Ehud Barak urged police to "do their utmost to suppress this type of criminal action" while opposition leader Tzipi Livni also expressed her "sadness and shock" Sunday morning. "Even if the details are not yet fully known, hate exists and we must deal with it," Livni said in a statement. "This difficult event must bring society to shake off prejudice, and to accept and recognize the right of every person to live in respect and safety." Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said the shooting would not deter the city's residents, who would continue to support the gay community. "Tel Aviv has always been a bastion of pluralism, tolerance and openness, and no one will succeed in hurting the city's character," he said. "Our city will continue to be a home for the gay community, and we will fight for the right of every person to live his life in the city according to his beliefs and conscience."