June 18, 2013

I’ve heard it all my life:

“If some pervert ever laid a hand on my kid, I’d kill them!”

Yet how frequently is such blowhardiness translated into action?

I can think of a grand total of three cases: last year’s Texas dad, that shady-sounding California mom, and this unforgettable incident from back in the 1980s that was captured on video.

Now there may be a fourth such case, if rumors about what happened at Tel Aviv’s Barnoar social club for gay youth turn out to be true.

The barest facts are not in dispute: A masked individual entered the youth center the night of August 1, 2009 and started shooting, killing two (a 26-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl), injuring 11 others, then escaping into the night.

“€œHaving insisted for decades that homosexuals are “€˜just like everyone else,”€™ few gay activists in Israel or abroad seem prepared to admit that those “€˜everyones”€™ are bound to include sinners as well as saints.”€

The reaction offers a glimpse into the Tel Aviv psyche. Whereas the average foreign observer, Jew or gentile, might automatically guess that the killer was yet another Muslim terrorist, Tel Aviv’s intelligentsia immediately pointed the finger at the Jewish religious right.

(Sound familiar?)

After all, liberal secular Jews pointed out, hadn’t Haredi Yishai Schlissel stabbed three marchers during the 2005 Pride Parade in Jerusalem?

And what about equal-opportunity hater Jack Tytell, who, among many other things, once distributed instructions for building “your very own Molotov cocktail,” which he nicknamed the “Schlissel Special”?

Such homophobic ignorance was practically to be expected from those backward (and badly dressed) religious barbarians in Jerusalem”€”but Tel Aviv? The Barnoar massacre literally hit Israel’s elite where they lived.

Labour and Likud quickly issued official expressions of outrage so laden with the mandatory therapeutic jargon about “tolerance” and “homophobia” that their statements were virtually indistinguishable”€”a rare (and revealing) display of political unity.

Candlelight vigils popped up across the city, then around the world, culminating in a 20,000-strong rally in Tel Aviv a week after the shooting. A bipartisan array of Knesset members was conspicuously present, including President Shimon Peres himself.

And then…nothing.

That is, until last week, when”€”just before the annual Tel Aviv Pride Parade”€”police announced they’d finally arrested four people in connection with the lukewarm case.

One of those detained was Shaul Ganon, Barnoar’s high-profile and very homosexual founder.


I struggled to piece together a sensible narrative out of vague, often contradictory English-language versions of Israeli news stories that were written under the constraints of a judge’s short-lived gag order.


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