Monday, July 04, 2005

Yishai Schlissel Stabs 3 at Jerusalem Gay Pride March in 2005

The gay pride parade in Jerusalem last Thursday night was disrupted when a protester stabbed 3 marchers.
The stabbing attack was the most serious in a series of incidents involving opponents of the gay and lesbian gathering. Police said that some 200 religious protesters gathered at the parade's starting point, the downtown offices of the Jerusalem Open House, the gay and lesbian community center that organized the fourth annual parade.

Protesters tried to stop the march by throwing a stink bomb, but some 2,000 participants marched on through the center of Jerusalem regardless, braving shouts and insults from protesters, most of them young ultra-Orthodox men.

"Homo sex is immoral," read one protester's sign. As the parade neared a main intersection, the attacker jumped into the first group of marchers and stabbed a man. Blood from the victim's chest seeped through his shirt as he sat, dazed, at the side of the road before an ambulance came to take him to a hospital, where he was said to be in serious condition.
The organized protest, I am sure, came about because of the determined opposition of the ultra-Orthodox leadership to this parade - including Mayor Lupolianski's trying to ban it (the ban was overturned by the court). It's hard to imagine that the stabbing was unrelated to the extreme rhetoric used by the ultra-Orthodox and to the general atmosphere of violent protest against the disengagement from Gaza.

In my experience of demonstrations in Israel, I never saw a weapon used against demonstrators (I mostly went to demonstrations against the Israeli occupation), but I was tear-gassed four times (by the police), and many times experienced horrible curses being directed against us by right-wing passersby. One in particular sticks in my mind - when participating in the weekly "Women in Black" anti-occupation demonstration in Paris Sq. in Jerusalem (this would have been in the late 1980s, during the first intifada), we were cursed by someone wishing that Hitler had killed us too. And this was a curse uttered by a Jew against fellow Jews! I also remember going to prayers organized by the Women of the Wall for Ta'anit Esther in 1989, when we were met by a determined band of about 50 ultra-Orthodox men yelling at us and threatening us. The police fired a tear-gas canister at them, and one man picked the canister up and threw it at us in the women's section of the Kotel. We all had to leave, since it was impossible to breathe.

According to the weekly e-mail that I receive from the Open House in Jerusalem (the Jerusalem gay and lesbian center), they are planning a protest vigil against the stabbing, at the same place where it occurred (on King George St.). I'm not sure when the vigil is planned for, since a date isn't given. The notice reads: "A community demonstration to protest the incitement, violence, and the stabbings that occurred at the Pride March on Thursday." It says that it will be guarded by the police. "It is important for us to emphasize the connection between incitement and violence, and to protest in a dignified way against hatred." They were also planning for buses to bring people from Tel Aviv to participate in the protest vigil. I looked at the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz web sites, but didn't see anything about this protest vigil, so I don't if it occurred already.

For more information, see also: Gay Stabbing Victim Blames Negative Publicity, Court extends remand of suspect in Gay Pride stabbing. To see some pictures, see Gay Pride Marchers Attacked in Israel, but ignore the anti-Zionist ravings in the comments. For an example of incitement see this story from Arutz Sheva: MK Yishai: Gay Parade is a Contamination. Yishai is the chairman of the Shas party, the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party.

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