Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stonewall, Tel Aviv, August 2009

Forty years and some change after the Stonewall riots in New York's Greenwich Village, Israel's LGBT epicenter was hit. It may or may not matter that the instigator was a yet-to-be identified private person, and that the police in this case are "on our side." It may or may not matter that some of the youths who attended the blood-bathed meeting at the headquarters of Israel's LGBT Association will, in a year or two or three or four be ordered to barge into Palestinian homes in Gaza or Nablus or Ramallah or Qaliqilya and threaten and humiliate and maybe even shoot at Palestinian children, women and men just for being Palestinians.

I just heard a mother on the radio, whose 18-year old son was among those hospitalized following last night's shooting. He wasn't injured physically, she said, but for the first time she understood what a shock victim was. Her son, reportedly a sturdy young man with phenomenal memory, can barely recall the details of the events he had witnessed just a few hours ago. We know much more about post-traumatic stress disorder now than we ever did. Hopefully, that knowledge will be put to good use in the case of these distressed teenagers. So much so that they will know better than to act like their assailant when they are put in uniform.

When something horrific like this happens, we want to blame someone. Or better, some-many. The term "hate-crime" was used in the local media here in Israel. Not a common phrase here (in Hebrew pesha sin'a) and therefore perhaps linguistically clumsy. Until some reporters and anchors were reminded that Hebrew has a word – pigua – used for "terror attacks," which all of a sudden seemed fit, and very PC, for this instance.

Truth be told, there have recently been all sorts of expressions of violence in this country that made headlines: a driver who ran over a parking lot attendant rather than paying his parking fee, soccer players accused of sexual assault, another soccer player almost shot to death over an alleged organized crime dispute, a former prime minister and former president accused of all sorts of bullying – fiscal, sexual and other abuses of power, friends and family of a negligent mother burning police cars and dumpsters in Jerusalem, and even the infamous Israeli "road rage" once attributed to our hot blood combined with hot muggy weather. Of course, all cars are now legally required to have air conditioners, but let's not be confused by the facts.

Cause and effect are a tricky thing to prove. Yet it's hard not to notice how violence in Israel transcends from everyday civilian activities to harsh military operations and back again to our own streets.

People have asked me recently whether I was OK following last night's shooting of innocent queer youths in Tel Aviv. Technically I am, and I am grateful of my friends' concerns. But the large picture is, people, we're in some deep deep shit.

1 comment:

  1. Your post got me thinking about what exactly the difference is between a 'hate crime' and a 'terror attack'. I suppose in practice the difference is one of scale: the latter is used for 'big' attacks against governments/nations, the former for 'small' crimes against possibly just an individual (qua representative of some ethnic/gender/religious/etc group). But the result seems to be the same: instilling fear in a larger group represented by the unlucky direct victims of the attack.


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