Australia’s Jewish community has responded with “shock and revulsion” after an Israeli teen was stabbed at a Tel Aviv LGBTQI youth hostel nearly ten years to the day after a notorious mass shooting took place at another LGBTQI youth centre in the city.
On Friday, a 16 year-old from the Arab-Israeli city of Tamara was allegedly stabbed by his brother at the Beit Bror emergency support centre for LGBTI adolescents where he had been staying after fleeing his home.
The victim had reportedly gone to the centre after being pressured by relatives to live a religious life.
The brother fled the scene in a motor vehicle after the attack and is yet to be apprehended.
Responding to the attack, Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett called it “a chilling reminder of how much harder we need to work to break down the intolerance and ignorance that exists in many communities.”
“The 2009 attack in Tel Aviv was the catalyst for a remarkable transformation in the Jewish community in Australia, and as a result our community has come to value the importance of including and embracing its LGBTIQ+ people” Barnett told J-Wire.
“We are a better, stronger and more cohesive community as a result, although we also know there is much more work to do. Beliefs and attitudes that incite hate and violence are never acceptable, and we must call them out in all their forms. Our thoughts are with the injured boy and wish him a full and speedy recovery.”
Co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, described Friday’s stabbing as “extremely disturbing.”
“Israel has made great strides in recent years in encouraging respect for and acceptance of LGBTIQ+ people,” Wertheim said.
“But there is still a long way to go. In Israel, as elsewhere, LGBTIQ+ people still face all too frequent acts of violence motivated by hatred in a social climate that is inflamed by bigoted statements from people in positions of authority.”
“We hope the young man who was attacked makes a full and speedy recovery and that his ordeal serves to spur political and religious leaders to greater efforts to stamp out anti-LGBTIQ+ violence, and the hatred that gives rise to it.”
Hundreds of Israelis marched in Tel Aviv on Sunday night in a pre-planned protest against transphobic violence, but the stabbing and recent comments by Israeli Education Minister Rafi Peretz, where he appeared to endorse “conversion therapies” for LGBTQI people, were on people’s minds.
Openly gay Meretz party leader Nitzan Horowitz told marchers, “The fact that an attack like this occurred at a place that is supposed to be a safehouse for youths from the gay community demonstrates the depth of the danger,” according to the Times of Israel.
The attack on the youth was also condemned by Arab-Israeli lawmakers, with Hadash party leader Ayman Odeh tweeting, “We can’t accept any type of violence in our society, definitely not hate crimes.”
“The struggle against violence and crime in our society is an emergency situation and is our top priority.”
The 2009 attack on the Israeli LGBT Association’s Bar-Noar youth centre resulted in the deaths of two people and the serious wounding of six others. The attacker has never been identified or brought to justice in the decade since then.