.Now is the time to read the signs and say it like it is: this is not just a struggle for the LGBTQ community of for the rights of Palestinians. We are part of a social struggle for the entire Israeli society. It is Israeli society at-large that needs a “Tikkun”. Mickey Gitzin, Managing director of Be Free Israel, on the events of the last two very sad days for the Israeli society
Last night I was among the people marching in Jerusalem. The gay pride parade in Jerusalem always has a special resonance, and is a particularly moving, colorful and political manifestation. I feel that it’s always the Jerusalem Pride where we demand a change and equal rights in contrast to the vibrant Tel-Aviv style parade. Both types of Pride are highly important, but it’s the Jerusalem version where I feel most at home. On my way to the parade, me and my friends discussed the amazing changes the LGBTQ community has gone through, and how gay youth today have some amazing frameworks and opportunities that weren’t there when we were young.
And then it happened. About 60 ft. away from me. I didn’t see stabbings, but I clearly saw the shock that quickly turned into anger and despair. I was with our dedicated activists, with friends that spend hours and years towards a more pluralistic Jerusalem and Israel, and in a flash of a second, a single moment, we felt as if everything was crumbling down and falling to pieces. But nothing happened in “one single moment”. It has been building up steadily and loudly, so no one here can honestly say that we didn’t see it coming. The hatred, disrespect, shamelessness and wickedness have been flooding Israel public sphere for quite some time now. People who incite to violence such as Bentzi Gopstein are free and incessantly express their hatred though all media. Politicians such as MK Bezalel Smotrich and Minister Uri Ariel create an atmosphere in which it is legitimate to be homophobia or hatred towards anything or anyone that is different.
Today, I travelled to the Palestinian village of Duma, close to Nablus. Last night and 18 month old boy has been burnt to death there. We went there to tell the people of the village that these horrible actions do not represent us, not as Israelis and not as Jews. I must admit that as we approached the village, we became a bit anxious. We live in a tense and often dangerous environment after all. But our will to convey our message was stronger than our fear and we met with the governor of the Nablus district when we reached the village. The governor promised to convey our message to the family who had lost its dear child and house and to the rest of the village.
There is a terrible red thread that connects these two gruesome events. It is the thread of hatred and discrimination, and unfortunately this is something that is on the rise in Israeli society. In some place this dangerous hatred is being fully legitimized. We aren’t talking here about some esoteric religious sect or a raving rabbi. If that was the case, things would have been much, much simpler. What we are dealing with, is an all-encompassing social phenomenon that comes to the fore in schools, community centers, streets and even the Knesset.
It is therefor that now is the time to read the signs and say it like it is: this is not just a struggle for the LGBTQ community of for the rights of Palestinians. We are part of a social struggle for the entire Israeli society. It is Israeli society at-large that needs a “Tikkun”. We are the ones that need to figure out time and again how to best work together towards a pluralistic Israeli society that is open for e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y.
In many ways, that is what Israel Hofsheet is about.
I hope to see you all tomorrow at the memorial events in Jerusalem, Tel aviv and Haifa
Sending all of you my warm regards
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