Why Are Gay People Unprotected Here?

Gay activist and former member of the governing committee of the Open House in Jerusalem in an open letter to Jerusalem Mayor: No more empty words about tolerance and acceptance of the other, Nir Barkat, and no expressions of fake contrition that aren’t backed up by action.

A rally for tolerance will be held today in Jerusalem under the banner “A city suffused with light,” in memory of Shira Banki, the 16-year old girl murdered at the city’s Gay Pride Parade. Mayor Nir Barkat was featured as the keynote speaker in every announcement of this event, organized by the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, with the help of the Jerusalem municipality and in coordination with the Banki family. I don’t know whose idea it was to feature the mayor so prominently and it doesn’t really matter. In his speech Barkat has to provide some explanations – no more hollow words about the unified city, which in fact is divided and torn; no more empty words about tolerance and acceptance of the other; and no expressions of fake contrition that aren’t backed up by action. What is required of you, honorable mayor, is to provide explanations.

It’s time to explain why you didn’t cut short your vacation abroad when a horrific hate crime was committed in the heart of the city you lead. Maybe you could explain why some of your spokesmen said you were on vacation while others said you were on an official visit. It’s your turn to tell us why the rally at Zion Square, attended by President Reuven Rivlin, was beneath your dignity. You must tell your city’s inhabitants why you sent your deputies to mumble some of your office’s insufficient explanations, why you abandoned them to contend with the crowd that angrily, and justifiably, cut off their words with cries of: “Where is the mayor?”

It’s time you explained why you haven’t visited the Open House even once since you assumed office. Ehud Olmert, who as mayor was the closest political ally of the ultra-Orthodox community, came when he was invited.

Mayor Barkat, it’s time you explained why members of the Open House had to beg for years, to no avail, to be granted positions for social workers at the community center. Only after the murderous attack that made waves around the world were three social workers quickly dispatched there.

Continue reading in Ha’aretz (some browsers require logging in)