Two youth were killed and dozens injured when a masked, black-clad man opened fire with an M-16 at a community center for GLBT youth in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, hours after the Sabbath ended.
It’s highly reminiscent of a time when Palestinian terror attacks targeted Tel Aviv nightclubs and gathering spots (most famously, the Dolphinarium in 2001; most recently the Tel Aviv central bus station in 2006). Although the manhunt for the killer is still ongoing, the GLBT community in Israel is already pointing fingers at the environment of hatred and bigotry fostered by the Orthodox Jewish community, and specifically the Shas party (which has publicly condemned the killing, to be fair). Some are pointing to a pattern of attacks against gay community centers and even accuse Shas of organizing the beating of gay youth.
So, will we see a roundup of prominent Orthodox politicians? Will those who incite violence be arrested? The leaders of Shas, as noted, have condemned the killing, but I am sure there are many rabbis who are taking more equivocal stances, but won’t be interviewed by the media. Furthermore, I am sure that many who are condemning the violence now will again preach hatred once the spotlight is off them (remember how Arafat was always accused of speaking out of both sides of his mouth?) When the killer is caught, will his family’s house be demolished, to "teach a lesson" to others? If they can’t catch the gunman, will they bomb his neighborhood to rubble? After all, like the shootings of Dr. George Tiller in the United States, this is clearly a terrorist attack–a politically motivated act of violence designed to further a cause at the expense of innocent lives.
Yet because it likely wasn’t committed by an Arab or a Muslim, it is being treated in Israel as a "criminal" matter. This occurs weeks after Jews rioted and pelted police officers with stones and dirty diapers and lit barricades on fire in Jerusalem, and were not suppressed with tear gas and live ammunition.
Or, rather than start treating the ultra-Orthodox like Palestinians, what if Israel started treating the Palestinians like humans?
Ethan Heitner is a member of Adalah-NY.