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Tel Aviv Youth Center Killings Were Anti-Gay Hate Crime

nir katz

Nir Katz, one of the victims of the Bar Noar murders

It’s taken four years, thousands of hours of police work, and the most expensive investigation in the history of the Israeli police, but they finally appear to have cracked the case of the Tel Aviv gay community center killings in which a counselor and young member were killed by weapons fire that was sprayed throughout the room. Ten others were wounded that day with at least one paralyzed for life.

The unofficial Israeli police web forum has revealed further information (in case this is taken down due to a gag order here is a screenshot) on the attack, suspects, and the motive for it. At the time of the shooting, the center’s director was Shaul Ganon, 49, an 18-year activist in the gay community. According to the source posting to the web forum (which again is a police source and should be suspected of some anti-gay bias), Gannon was suspected of rape of a 15-year-old (minor). Brothers of the victim determined to get revenge. So they traveled from their home in Bnai Brak to the Center and attacked it with the intent to avenge the alleged crime.

UPDATE: Since I wrote the paragraph below, Walla reports that the suspects did have a Haredi upbringing, but that lately they’d abandoned it.  They live in Pardes Katz, a largely Mizrahi “pocket” of Bnei Brak.  Their family name sounds clearly Mizrahi as well.  The hatred of homosexuality inherent in Jewish Orthodoxy rubbed off on them.

UPDATE I: This article implies that of the four suspects arrested, one is Ganon, two are the brothers of the victim, and the fourth is the gunman, hired by the brothers as the hit man.  The latter reputedly has an organized crime background.

shaul ganon

Shaul Ganon, who inadvertently set in motion the plot to attack Tel Aviv’s gay youth center.

Since the attackers didn’t harm Ganon, I have to suspect that the killers were motivated by a hate crime, since they attacked others who had nothing to do with Ganon or his crime. Given that the brothers are from Bnai Brak, a highly-Orthodox community, one may assume that the victim comes from such a background (though there are non-Haredi pockets in Bnai Brak where homophobia would be just as rampant). If so, this would only exacerbate the hatred the victim’s family would feel toward not only Ganon himself, but the entire gay culture, which they might feel victimized their brother.

The victim’s brothers are identified as Hagi (23) and Benjamin Felician (20).

According to an Israeli source active in the gay community, Ganon didn’t rape the boy, but rather had a consensual sexual relationship with him. The boy in turn “came out” to his family. And this is when the revenge plot developed.  I should note that any sex act between a 46 year old man and a 15 year old might legally be construed as rape.  But according to my source the relationship was consensual.

An Israeli commenter in the thread for this post notes that Ganon has been accused of similar unprofessional conduct with other young people.  For that reason, he was dismissed from his post at the Center.  So he appears to have a history of exploiting young gay men.

I want to make very clear that this information completely explodes the claim by the police that this was not a hate crime. It was indeed precisely that. But clearly claiming this merely involved revenge against an accused rapist (the police are falsely calling it “a personal vendetta”), it would allow the police to treat it as purely a sex crime and so limit the fall-out, if they could exclude homophobia as a motive.

yonatan boks

Yonatan Boks, paralyzed in the Bar Noar shooting

To further rebut the police version: when the gunman couldn’t find Ganon at the Center (he wasn’t there that night), if he had gone home it would not have been a hate crime.  But when he sprayed the entire hall indiscriminately with gunfire after he couldn’t find his intended victim, he killed for one reason and one reason alone: hatred of gays.

My source further notes that Ganon was one of those who inadvertently led to the notion of pinkwashing. He gave shelter to Palestinian gay youths who fled their families for fear of persecution or violence. In doing so, Gannon didn’t just offer shelter, he went further and heaped abuse on the homophobia of Palestinian culture and pointed to the superiority of Israeli attitudes on the subject.

This crime certainly will give the lie to that claim, since it proves there is a huge amount of gay hatred among the Israeli Orthodox community. You’ll recall there have been several acts of violence including a stabbing at a Jerusalem gay pride parade some years ago in which the attacker was Orthodox. Rabbis from the community have denounced the gay pride movement in vitriolic ways that would only exacerbate these sorts of reactions.

Ganon has also been arrested, though not, according to my source, for rape. But rather because he knew of the attack and attackers and did not divulge this to the authorities.

UPDATE: The Haredi news portal, HaTzofar, published two (Hebrew) articles justifying the Bar Noar murders.  In the first, it judges Shaul Ganon a “Sodomite” rapist, as if the crime was proven.  The second article is entitled, “This is Sodom.”  Several Israelis have attempted to publish similarly vile comments here (which I’ve refused to publish).  This is precisely the sort of environment out of which these murders were conceived.

UPDATE I: There is a claim by Israeli commenters in the thread here that attitudes toward homosexuality in the U.S. and Israel are comparable.  That doesn’t accord with my own sense of the realities.  Offering further support for my view, I note that the Pew Center released a new poll on global acceptance of homosexuality.  The percentage of those accepting it in the U.S. is 60%.  In Israel it is 40%.

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{ 66 comments… add one }
  • משה June 6, 2013, 1:41 PM
    • Richard Silverstein June 6, 2013, 5:01 PM

      That’s not what the articles say. They say they were raised Haredi & had lately abandoned it. But being raised Haredi means they would’ve absorbed all the hatred of homosexuality inherent in such an upbringing.

      • Bob Mann June 6, 2013, 5:45 PM

        Presumably being raised Haredi means they would’ve absorbed all the hatred of murdering innocent people inherent in such an upbringing as well. The Hebrew Bible contains numerous prohibitions against unlawful killing.

        • dickerson3870 June 6, 2013, 8:08 PM

          RE: “The Hebrew Bible contains numerous prohibitions against unlawful killing.” ~ Bob Mann

          SEE: “West Bank rabbi: Jews can kill Gentiles who threaten Israel”, By Haaretz Service, 11/09/09
          Book by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapiro of Yitzhar permits even the murder of babies and children who pose threat.

          Just weeks after the arrest of alleged Jewish terrorist, Yaakov Teitel, a West Bank rabbi on Monday released a book giving Jews permission to kill Gentiles who threaten Israel.
          Rabbi Yitzhak Shapiro, who heads the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in the Yitzhar settlement, wrote in his book “The King’s Torah” that even babies and children can be killed if they pose a threat to the nation.
          Shapiro based the majority of his teachings on passages quoted from the Bible, to which he adds his opinions and beliefs.
          “It is permissable to kill the Righteous among Nations even if they are not responsible for the threatening situation,” he wrote, adding: “If we kill a Gentile who has sinned or has violated one of the seven commandments – because we care about the commandments – there is nothing wrong with the murder.”
          Several prominent rabbis, including Rabbi Yithak Ginzburg and Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, have recommended the book to their students and followers.

          SOURCE – http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/2.209/west-bank-rabbi-jews-can-kill-gentiles-who-threaten-israel-1.4496

        • Richard Silverstein June 6, 2013, 11:14 PM

          Have you forgotten what the “LAWFUL” punishment is for sodomy? Perhaps not a shooting spree as in Tel Aviv, but stoning is quite lethal as well.

        • Josh June 7, 2013, 7:16 AM

          That’s right. Furthermore, even those who according to the bible should be killed, could never be killed by an individual.The bible said it should be after two witnesses witnessed the deed, and than a jewish court should warn the sinners, and if they are doing it again with two reliable witnesses, than the jewish court (Beth Din) could kill them.
          None of the conditinos above could happen today and nobody could kill – and it’s strictly prohibited to “take the law to your hans”.

          Those people ABANDONED the way they were raised like, and this is the very exact explanation to the murder. They didn’t murder because they were raised orthodox, they murdered despite they were raised like this.

          And by the way, Yishai Shleisel, the one who stabbed gays in Jerusalem, had to give a divorce to his wife. This is because the community is AGAINST the murder. And saying that “rabbis” are against the homosexual community is one of the most rediculous things than could be said, and it’s a saying that comes out of a total ignorance. The rabbis, as well a their communities, are following the word of God in every aspect of their lives. And they just stress what the bible says: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind. it is abomination”. God himself named it abomination, no reason why the rabbis wouldn’t mention it.

          • Richard Silverstein June 7, 2013, 12:38 PM

            Even rabbis who oppose homosexuality have a choice how to express it. These rabbis did so in a public & vociferous & extremely hostile way, which encouraged the haters among them.

      • Nimrod June 7, 2013, 11:33 AM

        @Richard
        i’m afraid you are mistaken.
        they are not Hardeim. They thought they are becuase they were caught at BneiBrak neighborhood.

        • Richard Silverstein June 8, 2013, 2:32 AM

          For the 3rd or 4th time, read the Walla article & take it up with its reporter, who says they come from Haredi background. Either he’s wrong or you are. But he’s publishing at a credible Israeli publication. So I’d like to see someone provide proof he’s wrong.

  • Bob Mann June 6, 2013, 3:24 PM

    Here you are saying that the Tel Aviv Youth Center killings were an anti-gay hate crime, but the Ha’aretz article you link to on your Twitter feed says the exact opposite.

    From that article:

    Police said they have ruled out the possibility that the shooting was a hate crime. Rather, they think the motive was personal – most likely, that one of the suspects sought to harm someone he believed was in the club at the time.

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/activist-in-israel-s-gay-community-arrested-over-deadly-2009-attack-on-tel-aviv-youth-center.premium-1.528090

    • dickerson3870 June 6, 2013, 8:32 PM

      RE: “Police said they have ruled out the possibility that the shooting was a hate crime. Rather, they think the motive was personal – most likely, that one of the suspects sought to harm someone he believed was in the club at the time.” ~ from the Haaretz article per Bob Mann

      MY QUESTION: If the motive was “personal” and related specifically to Shaul Ganon (a man in his forties), why were a 26-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl killed? Did the shooter mistake a 17-year-old girl for a man in his forties? Please enlighten us, Mr. Mann! Do you always believe everything the police say?

      FROM WIKIPEDIA [2009 Tel Aviv gay centre shooting]:

      (EXCERPTS) The 2009 Tel Aviv gay centre shooting resulted in the deaths of two people and injuries to at least fifteen others at the Tel Aviv branch of the Israeli GLBT Association, at the “Bar-Noar” (Hebrew: בר-נוער‎, “Youth Bar”), on Nahmani Street in Tel Aviv, Israel, on 1 August 2009. A 26-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl were killed.[1][2] . . .
      . . . As of April 2012, the crime remains unsolved. . .
      . . . The gunman entered the building where a weekly event was being held (in the basement), shot in several directions and then fled on foot.[2][5][6] The building was frequented by gay teenagers who engage in social activities and listen to music.[6][11] The centre was small with one terrace; thus preventing anyone from escaping.[6] They instead hid under a bed and tables as shots were fired.[6][11] Israeli television said the crime scene was a “bloodbath”.[7]. . .
      . . . The shooter was masked, dressed in black and used a pistol to carry out his attack.[2][5][8][11][12] It is not believed his motive was related to nationalist terror but the exact motive is currently unclear.[2] The city’s gay community stated the killer had a homophobic motive while police have cautioned people that the attack may not have been a hate crime and that the motive remains unknown. . .

      SOURCE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Tel_Aviv_gay_centre_shooting

  • Nimrod June 6, 2013, 3:49 PM

    See? it wasn’t Jack Teitel after all.

    • Richard Silverstein June 6, 2013, 11:17 PM

      Don’t you think Teitel did enough horrible things for which he may be blamed? How does eliminating this as one of them make things any better?

      • Nimrod June 7, 2013, 11:35 AM

        I think he should rot in jail to the last day of his life.
        And I’m glad they did not pin this crime on him also and closed the case after he confessed.

    • Shemi June 7, 2013, 10:55 AM

      No one claimed it besides Teitel himself. Once the police found it wasn’t true, they announced the Barnoar murder is not solved.

  • Come ONNN June 6, 2013, 3:49 PM

    Simple googling would have shown you that the Felicians are NOT orthodox in any way. They are ORGENIZED CRIME!
    It is more like if you had a club in New York, and was stupid enough to rape in your club a son of a mafia family. What do you imagine would have happened to your club?

    • Richard Silverstein June 6, 2013, 11:17 PM

      @Come ONN: So you’re claiming that the Walla reporter who said they were raised Haredi got it wrong? Do you have any proof? A link to a credible source would do quite nicely.

  • dickerson3870 June 6, 2013, 7:54 PM

    RE: “He [Ganon] gave shelter to Palestinian gay youths who fled their families for fear of persecution or violence. In doing so, Gannon didn’t just offer shelter, he went further and heaped abuse on the homophobia of Palestinian culture and pointed to the superiority of Israeli attitudes on the subject.” ~ R.S.

    SOME ADDITIONAL CONTEXT: “Israel’s Treatment of Gay Palestinian Asylum Seekers” ~ by Caroline Esser, The Washington Note, 6/06/11

    [EXCERPTS]. . . The newest way to sell Israel to Americans: LGBT rights. Search gay rights on the Anti-Defamation League’s website and what do you find? A ready-to-print and available for order poster that reads, “Which of the Middle East nations protects the legal rights, safety & freedom of the LGBT communities? Only Israel.” . . .
    . . . In their 2008 study, “Nowhere to Run: Gay Palestinian Asylum-Seekers in Israel,” Michael Kagan and Anat Ben-Dor describe in detail Israel’s unsympathetic and unbending policy towards gay Palestinians. . .
    . . .In pursuit of protection and the ability to openly express their sexuality, there have been at least ten cases in which gay Palestinians have sought refuge in Israel. However, despite their desperation, Israel refuses to even review gay Palestinian applications for asylum (those who have successfully received asylum have had to submit their cases directly to the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva). Moreover, gay Palestinians who have illegally entered Israel have been arrested and promptly deported–returned to the very environments in which their lives were at risk and in which they will now face further danger as they are questioned not only for their sexuality but for their choice to spend time in Israel. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2011/06/israels_treatme/

  • Dave Terry June 6, 2013, 8:14 PM

    Richard;

    I hate homophobia as much as anyone, but COME ON;
    The man was 46 and kid was 15. Even if the relationship
    WAS consensual, it is STILL “statutory rape”.

    NO ONE should take advantage of their position in a
    case like this. How can he be trusted to HELP those
    kids, if he is going to take advantage of them?

    • Richard Silverstein June 6, 2013, 11:12 PM

      That’s not the question. The question is if a man seduces a minor should the crime be a murder spree in which innocent bystanders are the victims? If it was rape & non-consensual or there was pressure involved in the incident, then the police should’ve been involved. Better the police, no matter how incompetent, than taking matters into your own hands & killing everyone but the person you’re aiming for.

  • SB June 6, 2013, 10:57 PM

    I would like to note that as one who has friends that were injured in the incident, knew Nir Katz (RIP), and volunteered in the Israeli Gay Youth organization until very recently, that:
    1. I saw in my own eyes the “affection” that Ganon had for young teens, in several occasions. That’s why he was dismissed from his duties in the Bar Noar 3 years ago (after a few more issues exploded).

    2. A story that was told over and over again: Gannon was supposed to be there on that same evening, but in the last moment Nir replaced him by the former’s request. Now of cource it turned out to be very shocking.

  • Eli June 6, 2013, 11:17 PM

    They do not come from a haredi background, and even if they did, it is not relevant.
    We’re talking about known gang leaders, this is clearly not a hate crime but a personal/family vendetta.

    • Richard Silverstein June 6, 2013, 11:41 PM

      Eli: WRONG. The victim and his brothers, who hired the killer, came from a Mizrahi/Haredi background. The killer was hired and from organized crime. But when he didn’t find Ganon there & killed innocent victims, then it became a hate crime.

      Can you explain to me how killing gay children who had nothing to do with Ganon or his lover can be construed as a vendetta? Who were they getting revenge against and for what??

      Interesting how many Israelis, including the police refuse to acknowledge the homophobia in Israeli society.

      • Noam June 8, 2013, 12:18 AM

        @ Richard, of course there’s homophobia in israel! what’s your point? how is that relevant? even if you say that 90% of the israeli population is homophobic you still need proof that the murder was a hate crime. what you describe in the article are all circumstantial. the police has been following the brothers for several months, and apparently haven’t found anything (yet) to indicate that they committed the crime out of hate (like another crime with homophobic pattern) or other proof that will hold in court.

        ” But clearly claiming this merely involved revenge against an accused rapist (the police are falsely calling it “a personal vendetta”), it would allow the police to treat it as purely a sex crime and so limit the fall-out…”

        what’s the police agenda here? don’t you think that if they’ve invested all the resources that you described in your first paragraph, then, they really tried to get to the bottom of it?? and don’t you think that charging the murderers against public opinion (that it was a hate crime) and media will only raise questions about the investigations and have reporters snooping for foul play – which is, as you claim, the opposite of what the police tried to achieve?

        and what is this fall out that you think the police is so afraid of? can’t think of anything that bad that the police has to cover up it’s own investigation.

        • Richard Silverstein June 8, 2013, 2:28 AM

          @Noam: Israeli police are even more homophobic than the general population. Of course, they hate gays and would prefer nothing more than turning this into a mafia gang war crime or sex crime. IF it’s a hate crime it tarnishes Israel’s gay paradise fairy tale. Not to mention it distracts from the fact that it took the police four years to solve a crime in which a score of Israelis were killed or maimed. That’s a separate scandal in & of itself.

          • Noam June 8, 2013, 8:50 AM

            @ Richard, how can you accuse the police of being homophobic and still claim:
            “It’s taken four years, thousands of hours of police work, and the most expensive investigation in the history of the Israeli police, but they finally appear to have cracked the case of the Tel Aviv gay community center killings …”
            if it was as you claim, why put that much man power and resources? and for what? to lie to the public? you can do that after a year and save money. or even better, why not let the case disappear in history? fact is they managed to catch the criminals and hopefully put them away, including Ganon if he’s found guilty of statuory rape.

            http://www.haaretz.com/travel-in-israel/tel-aviv-declared-world-s-best-gay-travel-destination-1.406699

            this article is from 2011, 2 yrs after the shooting. still a time that popular belief was that indeed it was a hate crime – as you can see it didn’t tarnish anything. unfortunately, there are lots of hate crimes around the world and one case (if it was so) isn’t reflective of the entire society. why are you so eager to “tarnish Israel’s Gay Paradise fairy tale”??

            i know that police forces usually “don’t like” minorities of any kind – sexual or ethnic but in this so publicly known case i believe the police as more to lose by covering up than gain.

  • AdditionalInfo June 6, 2013, 11:44 PM

    I think you may a have one point missing.
    Ganon was hosting this bar-no’ar every single week, and it’s only this specific week where he took the evening off.

  • yael June 7, 2013, 12:12 AM

    please, it’s enough to have his name famous, don’t put his picture.

  • Yehuda June 7, 2013, 1:03 AM

    As a hareidy myself I’m shocked to see that you think that we are raised to be capable of doing such a thing because of someone’s sexual identity

  • david June 7, 2013, 1:48 AM

    Ar you e gay richard?

    • Richard Silverstein June 7, 2013, 1:03 PM

      Are you a boorish moron? Why does someone’s interest in protecting the rights of Israeli homosexuals and ensuring they aren’t murdered mean they must be gay? Only a truly scummy human being (if you are that) would hold such a belief.

  • Deïr Yassin June 7, 2013, 2:40 AM

    From what has come out by now I don’t see how this can be defined as a homophobic hate crime nor that it has anything to do with the religious background of the Felicians. If the young person being abused had been a girl would that change anything ? How do we know that the brothers would have reacted differently ? To me it sounds just like regular lunatics.
    Not to mention that if a 15 years old from Bnei Brak hangs out at a gay community center in Tel Aviv, wouldn’t a traditional/religious family start by punishing him ?
    Reminds me of a female friend who realized that the man she was dating was married and said in dispair, ‘”If only I could ask my brothers to beat him up”, and a another friend answering: “they would beat you up first” :-)

    • agal June 8, 2013, 7:52 AM

      “If the young person being abused had been a girl would that change anything ?”

      i suspect it would have changed everything. even ‘organized crime’ don’t take murder charges lightly, and wouldn’t have slaughtered unrelated bystanders, had it been truly a “personal vendetta”. furthermore – by shooting those bystanders they gravely hampered their chances of carrying out their “vengeance”. and indeed, Ganon still lives.

      • Deïr Yassin June 9, 2013, 3:30 PM

        I get your point. It sounds logic: a way of seeing the gay community as one collective group. I didn’t look at it this way.

  • shelly - atheist June 7, 2013, 7:07 AM

    1. if the murderers are “Mizrahi ” most certainly they have never belonged to the “Haredim” cult . no such animal: “Mizrahim Haredim”. Haredim is a pure Ashkenazi invention a preposterous deviation from real Judaism. might be only “masorti-im” – traditional – and that’s completely different
    2. your saying that they have only “recently`” became “non Haredim” is obviously false , no one made such claim and this was obviously invented up by yourself.
    3. your trying to imply that only “Haredim” or “Mizrahim” hate homosexuals here is ridiculous . the bulk majority of the Israeli population is greatly despise homosexuals and see it as unnatural and sick behavior. this in spite of a large media bias and widespread homosexual propaganda.

    why are you trying to defend a sex offender who took advantage of a confused 15yr old boy , and trying even harder to smear “Haredim”?
    what is your problem?

    • Richard Silverstein June 7, 2013, 12:41 PM

      While what you say is generally true, it’s not wholly true. There are Mizrahi Orthodox whose views can be defined as Haredi. They even operate a radio station on which women may not be heard.

      If you have a problem with this reporting take it up with Walla which reported it precisely as I described. Further, it is Walla which reported they they’d abandoned Haredi ways. Again, take it up with them. Don’t you even read the links before revealing your ignorance?

      • shelly - atheist June 7, 2013, 3:36 PM

        [Again, you haven't read the comment rules. Your comment is off-topic, homophobic, nasty, & brutish. I am moderating you until you can prove you can respect the comment rules.]

        • shelly - atheist June 7, 2013, 3:44 PM

          [Comment deleted--you have not read the comment rules. Read them if you plan to comment here again. You may not publish off-topic comments. This comment was completely off-topic.]

    • guest June 7, 2013, 3:49 PM

      Just adding my two cents.
      World Value Survey considers attitudes of Israelis and US citizens very similar – both in statistical mean of levels of reported acceptance of gays and in standard deviation (high polarization). This has gone into a recent RAND report on gays in IDF and US armed forces (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal).

      Simply to say that the secular left and the irrationally homophobic right have similar representations in both countries (when it comes to gays, not so much on other topics), and there no longer a case to objectively saying “the bulk majority of Israeli population despises homosexuals”, with the intent of saying this is different than in the US, which are not completely unprogressive.

      • Richard Silverstein June 7, 2013, 9:32 PM

        We have a rule here. If you offer support or evidence for a claim be specific and offer a link or quotation. I have no idea what the World Value Survey is. But if it does say what you claim (which I strongly doubt) it’s simply flat out wrong. The level of homophobia exposed in public opinion surveys of Israelis is sky high. I’m not interested in the levels of acceptance of gays in the IDF. I’m interested in the level of homophobia in the average Israeli, which is huge.

        • shelly - atheist June 8, 2013, 1:43 AM

          [You have been banned]

        • Bob Mann June 8, 2013, 2:42 AM

          Here is the website for the World Values Survey:

          http://www.wvsevsdb.com/wvs/WVSAnalize.jsp

          Using the tool at the link above, you can analyze the data in a variety of ways. For instance, you can pick out any questions you like (for example, those related to views about homosexuality) and compare any numbers of countries and their results (such as Israel vs. United States).

          The level of homophobia in Israel and the United States is about the same according to this data. You can use the tool to get the specific numbers and filter in or out whatever questions (and countries) you’d like.

          Also, according to a poll conducted in August 2009, 61% of Israelis supported equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, with 31% opposed. Furthermore, 60% supported joint adoption by same-sex couples, with 34% opposed.

          Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_Israel#cite_note-2009poll-2

          These numbers are about on par with those in the United States.

          What are the public opinion surveys of Israel that show the level of homophobia as being “sky high”? Can you provide links to a few of them?

          • guest June 8, 2013, 7:48 AM

            thanks Bob, that is in fact the link (again: http://www.wvsevsdb.com/wvs/WVSAnalize.jsp), and it surveys attitudes of Israelis, not of IDF personnel as Richard thought I meant. The RAND report is mentioned a bit off-topic just to give WVS more credibility (here: http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG1056.html)

            I actually meant to reply to shelly who I understood to suggest that haredi society cannot be understood as extremely homophobic, also because Israeli society is extremely homophobic. I too think Israel is quite homophobic (and narrow minded in general), but so is American society – militaristic and homophobic. Both societies are similar in more ways, such as a prevailing belief in their exceptionalism, which sometimes both progressives and conservatives use in their arguments. However, they are also In level of polarization on gay issues – suggesting that neither society is actually too accepting, but ultra conservatives in each society are fully responsible for that societies strong-rooted homophobia and should be held accountable for persons carrying out their hateful speech and moving into real actions.

            As a guide for this conversation I think there is little worth in naming whole societies homophobic, as a principle and also as there is a special breed of homophobia in ultraorthodox (and settlers) societies. Naming a whole society homophobic is the large part the pinkwashing strategy – it doesn’t help the gays on ANY side.

          • Amir June 8, 2013, 8:05 AM

            yes sure. 61%. of course!
            if so where have dissapeared at least 50% of Israel population: religious Jews, Arabs , and newly Russian immigrants?. (at least 90% of them will appose any sort of Gay rights). not to speak of majority of mizrahi Jews and others. if you were told that this survey was made in a small district in Tel-Aviv among a gay parade participants , then i might have believed it.
            reminds me of these “surveys” that say 3.5% world gay population… and other known “scientific researches”…

          • Richard Silverstein June 8, 2013, 6:04 PM

            A poll I’ve featured here about Israeli racism found that 65% would not live next door to someone who was gay. You can look up the poll yourself. As for Israeli homophobia, if you don’t believe how rampant it is, get in touch with Israeli gays (not pinkwashers) & they’ll educate you.

            BTW, while of course there is homophobia in the U.S., can you name any similar U.S. incidents in which two gays were murdered & ten wounded with two paralyzed for life?

          • Richard Silverstein June 9, 2013, 12:10 AM

            @Bob: There’s a fundamental problem with your claim, Bob. It doesn’t matter what Israelis believe about same-sex marriage since there isn’t even civil marriage for heterosexuals, let alone gays. Are you claiming gays can be married by rabbis in Israel?

            You have an even bigger problem in Israel than here. Because here gays will be able to marry almost everywhere in a few yrs. In Israel, as long as rabbis hold a monopoly on marriage, there can never be gay marriage. This is yet another of the poison pills that Israeli civil society must swallow.

            So essentially what you & Israeli are claiming is that Israeli gays who marry elsewhere should be recognized. But I’m afraid not only is there no chance of gay marriage in Israel, the state doesn’t even recognize foreign gay marriages. All this means Israel is far behind the U.S. on that score.

            So poll or no poll, the objective reality for Israeli gays on this issue is not good.

          • guest June 9, 2013, 2:04 AM

            As of 2006, same-sex marriages performed elsewhere are recognized by Israel. This was a supreme court decision. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_Israel

            Richard you described the orthodox monopoly on marriage, as a poison pill, in way in which I would agree with.

            The current debate whether the state should recognize the ‘barnoar’ as a hate-crime is absurd and homophobic by itself. A right wing fantasy flying around (by haredi comments, mostly) that since the murderer may have been gay and seems to be religious no more this is not a ‘hate crime’, but an internal issue in the gay community (the police makes BLACK credit by talking about ‘revenge’ motive) – elucidates the levels of hypocrisy in some communities, and its public expression does shed some light on Israeli society.

            A public demand buy some center commentators for an apology by Nitzan Horowitz or some other manifestation of ‘a gay community’ is very troubling – in its deep failure to recognize everyday homophobia.

          • Richard Silverstein June 9, 2013, 2:54 AM

            @guest: While it is welcome that gay marriages performed outside Israel are recognized there, the point is that no Israeli gay couple can be married in Israel, nor will one ever be married there till rabbis lose their monopoly. And that will be never unless there is a civil revolution. That is not the case in the U.S.

            Again, I’m not claiming the U.S. is homophobia free or a gay paradise. Not at all.

            I’m in agreement with everything else you wrote in your comment.

          • Richard Silverstein June 9, 2013, 2:59 AM

            @Nikki: I write about and research police behavior regularly at this blog. Anyone who doubts the level of racism, corruption, homophobia and general intolerance within the police has their head buried in the sand or simply lives in ignorance.

            I have absolutely no intolerance toward Mizrahim at all. Just the opposite. Concerning Haredim, I oppose their views on just about everything.

  • Lee June 8, 2013, 7:18 AM

    2 paralised for life. At the time of the attack they were 15 and 19 years old, the injury basically outed them so not only they became crippled for life, they also suffered a huge family trauma.

  • serfy June 8, 2013, 8:35 PM

    You don’t even know what this crime neighborhood Pardes Katz is ……… Terrible hang out there.
    I am guard in Ayalon Mall, near this neighborhood, terror everywhere, violence, drugs, religion.
    This is not good Richard.
    And it’s not a good place to raise children!

  • Michael June 9, 2013, 12:14 AM

    is this a Haredi youth? This video is of one of the accused in his somewhat younger days (~2010).
    considering what he’s saying and what he’s (not) wearing it’s a safe bet that if he were
    Haredi at some past point, those influences are long gone:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5tq7ZM-XzA

  • serfy June 9, 2013, 12:41 AM

    Obviously I drive carefully ….. Try to be diplomatic.
    you can speak with me on fb.
    You know who I am now

  • serfy June 9, 2013, 12:44 AM

    Why do not you come to Israel?
    The authorities are afraid of you?

  • Nikki June 9, 2013, 1:15 AM

    @Richard Silverstein
    First of all, I don’t see why the Israeli Police are automatically to be suspected of anti-gay bias. Nor do I see what is the basis of your claim that they are “even more homophobic than the general population”. Have you conducted a survey of police atitudes toward homosexuals?
    Secondly: “They live in Pardes Katz, a largely Mizrahi “pocket” of Bnei Brak. Their family name sounds clearly Mizrahi as well. The hatred of homosexuality inherent in Jewish Orthodoxy rubbed off on them.” – You are betraying your prejudices, both against Mizrahim and against the ultra-Orthodox.

  • Nathan June 9, 2013, 1:39 AM

    I surmised from Day 1 that the rampage at Bar Noar was not carried out by some homophobe looking to kill gays, but rather by someone with some sort of connection to the place. At the time this happened, in summer 2009, I had been living for some 10 years a few hundred yards from the corner of Nahmani and Ehad Haam streets, and had passed the place hundreds of times, but, not being gay myself, had never noticed or known that there was a gay center there. It was not something they published. There are known gay bars and gathering places in Tel-Aviv, and if some homophobe was looking to randomly attach gays, he would have gone to those places, not to some hidden low-key gathering place for youth.
    Now, the picture evolving is that this Shaul Ganon guy, who was the director of this Bar Noar and there every Saturday night, had probably received threats from the youth’s crime-involved relatives (Pardes Katz is a well-know crime-infested neighborhood), that they would come Sat. night to Bar Noar to “settle the score” with him, and that’s why he kept away that night.
    And the fact that a hit-man sent to take down a certain individual turns the hit into an all-out shooting spree targeting the visitors to a gay youth center, certainly DOES make it into a hate crime in my opinion.

  • GILk June 9, 2013, 4:46 AM

    this claim is not true (below). you can check it for yourself. he was moved due to a change in management and had been moved a different project involving Palestinian gay youth and adults prosecuted and threatened by the Palestinian authorities.

    in all is years of volunteering there wasn’t even one complaint. and he he has no criminal record what so ever.

    it is a shame you publish lies that can easily be checked – i don’t know if he had sex with that youngster. i know for a fact that he didn’t have any rumors about an inappropriate sexual conduct. not one. some antagonistic behavior towered the board of the Aguda. nothing sexual.

    An Israeli commenter in the thread for this post notes that Ganon has been accused of similar unprofessional conduct with other young people. For that reason, he was dismissed from his post at the Center. So he appears to have a history of exploiting young gay men.

  • tommer levin June 9, 2013, 11:37 PM

    The article exposes biased views against mizrahim and haredim. The Israelis at least are less biased and less racists than YOU.

  • roeeky June 10, 2013, 1:56 PM

    I wasn’t convinced until now that the case was a hate-crime. However, I totally feel that way now. Only hardcore (self?)homophobia can make someone shoot aimlessly when the “object of revenge” is not around. At the absence of the demonized target, why not murder the “demon” itself? As a gay Israeli guy I can sadly suggest that nothing is more dangerous and fatal than to be exposed as gay by old-fashioned family members. Actually I won’t be surprised if I hear that the real revenge madness was due to a refusal of the teen to keep a way from the “figure” from Barnoar (whom I’ve never heard of).

  • Shmuel Kuper August 10, 2013, 5:38 PM

    RICHARD SILVERSTEIN: “UPDATE: The Haredi news portal, HaTzofar, published two (Hebrew) articles justifying the Bar Noar murders. In the first, it judges Shaul Ganon a “Sodomite” rapist, as if the crime was proven. The second article is entitled, “This is Sodom”.”

    I’m the writer of those articles.

    Already 9 days after the murdfer I published in “Tzofar” an article saying that most probably the shooting wasn’t done by people motivated by hatred of sodomy, rather by people who were hurt by the sodomite activity aimed againtst juveniles that visited the place, and backed it with facts that show how they were given alcoholic beverages there and being molested by older men.

    Despite the fact that the police had the same sources I used, they neglected this direction of invistigation and began a hunt after religious Jews – under the einfluence of the media.

    Only after a new police coammander in charge of the investigation came to office, and right after a new commander of the Tel Aviv police district eneterd the office – the police finally found what was obvious fron the beginning, as I wrote it down altreada then – it was no “hate crime” but a family vendeta perpetrated by secular people connected to the Pardes Katz mafia.

    That Richard Silverstein refuses to face the facts and keeps on with the lies that led the police astray for 4 years – is a demonstration of his poor journalistic skills impaires by ideological hatred of observant Jews.

    • Richard Silverstein August 11, 2013, 12:08 AM

      @Shmuel Kuper: What “facts” show minors were given alcoholic beverages or that minors were “molested” by “older men?” I don’t trust your word as far as I can throw it. I want facts, named sources & evidence. If you don’t produce that you’re a homophobe

      And if you use the term “sodomite” in this blog again you won’t publish another word here. If you want to address fellow human beings you’ll call them by the name they use for themselves & not disgusting offensive names you make up for them.

  • Shmuel Kuper August 11, 2013, 4:10 AM

    The facts are in the articles you yourseves linked to in “Tzofar” and to others linked in them there. None is my own invention. It’s evidence brought by minors who have their forum who told what is going on in Bar Noar. The police has this evidence as well as I have it, since it’s on the web. All this is in Hebrew of course. If your read Hebrew, read my articles in Tzofar. Besides, this evidence is in many other sites in the Hebrew media here. Police itself arrested Ganon, the manager of Bar Noar on charge of raping a minor. He agreed to testify that he did have sex with that minor (Chagay Felicyan’s young brother) because otherwise the police couldn’t establish a motive for the shooting in Bar Noar. They agreed not to present indictment in court against him, based on a statement of his that he didn’t know the age of the minor.

    The Torah calles the act of two males having a sexual act: “Ma’ase Sedom”. Hence “Sodomites” is the exact transltaion to English from the Torah language. I’m an observant Jew and I use the Tora’s terminology, in my study and in mu speeking. If you want to censure the Holy Language in this site – go ahead. I’ll keep using this Torah language.

    • Richard Silverstein August 11, 2013, 12:02 PM

      @Shmuel Kuper: Your article is in Hebrew. I want you to translate the relevant passages so readers here can judge for themselves.

      As for your research: you took posts in a web forum as being reliable evidence? What did you do to actually establish that online gossip was actually factual? Did you interview anyone who the forum members claimed “corrupted” them to establish whether the claims had any credibility?

      No one uses the term “sodomite” in English. It hasn’t been used in a 100 yrs except by nutcase ultra-Orthodox homophobes like you. No one in Israel uses such terminology either except those who wish to smear gays. Israel’s language is modern Hebrew and Israel is a country not [yet] a country ruled by the out of date attitudes of the Torah. But if you have anything to do with it, we’ll be living like Jewish Taliban soon enough.

      I will not ban you right now as I said in hopes you will show readers what you have written that “proves” your claims about Bar Noar. If you don’t do so within 24 hours, you will be banned for using hate speech.

      • Shmuel Kuper August 11, 2013, 12:52 PM

        I’m a journalist for already tens of years in Israeli papers, in the beginning like “Yated Neeman”, “HaMachane HaCharedi”, in both mainly as an investigating reporter. I worked as investigator for institutes in Israel for years. I write now for a website that belongs to observant Jews.

        When I wrote just 9 days after the shooting in Bar Noar, it was based on info I received privately, which reffered me inter alia to a forum where kids who frequent Bar Noar told their experiences. I cited it, as now are doing others in the media.

        Bar Noar and their sodomite partners have sent me a letter through a lawyer demading retribution of half million NIS and parallelly Uri Blau from Ha’aretz published the matter.

        Wikipedia, following this, brought in their entry about Bar Noar Tzofar as example of “homophobia” and so it was published few years there, until current police findings utterly confirmed mine right after the shooting. Wikipedia removed immediately their mention of Tzofar as example of of “homophobia” when realizing that everything I wrote is confirmed by the police. We intend now to sue Bar Noar and their sodomite partners for the same amount of money for their libel that I allegedly wrote lies about what’s going on in Bar Noar, and now it was proven true.

        Here is my article about this:

        Bar Noar sues Tzofar for half million NIS

        Now, I do not work for you and I owe you nothing. I do not write under extortion of being banned nor under ultimatum as yours. I do not have to translate anything for you, I’m not on your payrole. If you ask me nicely I might translate for your readers the relevant passages, if I can spare the time, or if you pay me for this.

        As to “sodomy”, that’s the word used by all legal systems. For instance:

        In his concurring opinion in “Bowers v. Hardwick”, where the Supreme Court upheld the Georgia prohibition of consensual sodomy, Chief Justice Burger stated:

        “Decisions of individuals relating to homosexual conduct have been subject to state intervention throughout the history of Western Civilization.

        Condemnation of those practices is firmly rooted in Judeo-Christian moral and ethical standards.

        Homosexual sodomy was a capital crime under Roman law…. During the English Reformation when powers of the ecclesiastical courts were transferred to the King’s Courts, the first English statute criminalizing sodomy was passed… Blackstone described “the infamous crime against nature” as an offense of “deeper malignity” than rape, an heinous act “the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature,” and “a crime not fit to be named.” … The common law of England, including its prohibition of sodomy, became the received law of Georgia and the other Colonies….

        To hold that the act of homosexual sodomy is somehow protected as a fundamental right would be to cast aside millennia of moral teaching”.

        We Jews have our holy tradition that dictates our attitude to sodomy and sodomites. The Torah is God’s word and this is what we follow. Not words of lies as you present the case of Bar Noar in your blog.

        • Richard Silverstein August 11, 2013, 6:21 PM

          @Kuper: You either don’t know English or you do & you’re being deliberately disingenuous. “Sodomy” is a term that was used in legal jargon. The Hardwicke decision is about 40 yrs old. No judge today would use the term in any legal decision. It is not used in the United States or the ENglish speaking world except by homophobes. ‘Sodomite’ is never used except in a deeply pejorative sense & by homophobes.

          You are now banned since you refused to offer any proof for you contention that minors were served alcholic beverage and molested by older men at Bar Noar. I do not allow any one to make claims here without supporting them with credible evidence. You are also banned because you have used disgusting, abusive language that is only used by hateful ultra Orthodox Jews like yourself & evangelical Christians.

          You are a hateful, homophobic Jew & my Jewish God thoroughly disapproves of you & everything you stand for. May your views be erased.

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