Friday, July 31, 2015

Dispersing Jerusalem's Gays : Same Time, Same Place?

"I do think that homophobia is rooted in the city, but that's the point of the parade."
"We are trying to change that. And hopefully we will change that. It takes one man to create a scene like this. Hopefully he's a minority."
Benny Zupick, 21, Jerusalem

"People celebrating their freedom and expressing their identity were viciously stabbed."
"We must not be deluded a lack of tolerance will lead us to disaster. We cannot allow such crimes and we must condemn those who commit to support them."
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

"The battle is not over. Those unclean people want to continue defiling Jerusalem."
"To protest is an obligation in my opinion, but it is not enough.  [The goal must be] to disperse them, even by force."
Yishai Schissel, ultraorthodox Jerusalem resident

"All we ask and expect is that LGBTQ people are free and safe to live in Jerusalem. This is only a sign we need to continue our work and our marches."
Jerusalem Open House
Security forces moved to arrest Yishai Schlissel, who carried out a similar attack 10 years ago. Credit Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press
Most certainly Gay Pride parading through the streets of Tel Aviv would find enthusiasm greeting them along with disinterested city dwellers going about their business, none caring that gays were embarking on their annual visual presentation to the public. In Jerusalem, where ultraorthodox Jews and pious Muslims and Christian Palestinians dominate in many quarters with their obvious distaste for anything remotely 'abnormal' according to their religious tenets, the surprise is that a similar atrocity isn't a regular feature of the parade.

It would seem that one man, however, who finds such exhibitionism utterly detestable, has staged a repeat performance. He may have pledged that once every decade he would embark on a mission to carry out a violently repulsive act that his deranged mind may feel is equal to the public presence of gays celebrating their gender-otherness. He did so in 2005, stabbing a handful of parade participants and paid the penalty of a prison sentence.

And his repeat performance took place this week in Jerusalem. Israeli justice should find him as a repeat offender someone who is not amenable to learning from the punishment originally meted out to him. As a recidivist he has more than adequately demonstrated that he is a man deserving of institutionalized separation from mainstream society. His fervent fanaticism marks him as a man incapable of restraining his murderous impulse.

Yishai Schlissel, as a result, will and should be returned to prison after a court of law finds him guilty of stabbing six young people, leaving two of them in serious condition. He is said to have hid his presence as the excited, happy parade-goers marched past a supermarket. When he appeared, withdrawing his knife, catching everyone by dismayed surprise at his fearful presence, his swift attack even caught police by surprise.

Asi Ahroni speaking for the Jerusalem police spoke of a "massive presence" of police meant to secure the safety of those taking part in the parade. "Unfortunately the man managed to pull out a knife and attack." Once the wounded were taken to hospital the parade continued but the spontaneous air of gaiety was hugely subdued.

On the other hand, thousands of residents of the city who hadn't taken part in the parade and under other circumstances likely would never have envisioned themselves going anywhere near such an unorthodox spectacle, saw it fit and needful that they flood into the street by their thousands, offering solidarity and support to the marchers.

The police arrested a man identified as Yishai Schlissel after an attack on a gay pride parade in Jerusalem on Thursday. Credit Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press

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