Sarah Kala-Meir, Executive Director of the Jerusalem Open House, says that the attack in Orlando should be a wake up call. Our community has to do some soul searching, to see what can be done to prevent the next hate crime.
The fact that the Islamic State group has taken responsibility for the horrific massacre in Orlando means the attack has been labeled Islamic terrorism, but when a murderer enters a club filled with members of the LGBT community and kills 49 partygoers, it is also a homophobic event. Add to this attack the arrest several hours later of a man on his way to the Los Angeles Pride Parade after multiple guns and explosives were discovered in his car.
We need to wake up! If we continue to turn a blind eye, incidents such as this will continue to occur. The fear is part of our daily struggle, and the tragedy in Orlando reopens the wounds that have not yet healed from the murder of Shira Banki at last year’s Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem. There were those at the time who condemned the terrible murder and called for equality and tolerance. Unfortunately, in reality, nothing has changed. For members of Jerusalem’s LGBT community, life is accompanied by a great deal of prejudice, homophobic remarks and incitement to violence.
The attack in Orlando is proof that an entire community is calling out, and there is no one to listen. Just two weeks ago, an Israeli was arrested for inciting violence against the Jerusalem’s gay community, and now we hear the police has investigated “suspicious” citizens in an attempt to find out if they are planning to attend the various Pride events. We cannot remain calm. We no longer feel safe when we walk down the street. When an attack such as yesterday’s takes place, we, the victims of trauma, relive our experiences from last year, along with all the others we must endure throughout the year.