Hebrew Media Review

Pride, not prejudice

Police declare motive for 2009 shooting at an LGBT youth center; the Syrian civil war moves closer to Israel

Women of the Wall members pray while wearing traditional prayer shawls and tefillin, May 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)
Women of the Wall members pray while wearing traditional prayer shawls and tefillin, May 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)

Pixelated pictures of the four men arrested in connection with a 2009 shooting at an LGBT youth center are splashed across the front pages of Friday’s papers. While a gag order on the case prevents many of the details from being published — including the identities of the suspects — the little information that is known is widely featured.

Israel Hayom reports on one of the more shocking developments in the case on Thursday — the arrest of a well-known member of the gay community in connection with the shooting. The police report states that his arrest was for obstruction of justice — he knew the motive for the shooting, but didn’t come forward.

The paper also gets reactions from Chen Langer, who was seriously hurt in the attack. “Tomorrow (Friday) is the Gay Pride parade and I will be there. No one will ruin that for me. But after all the flags come down, there will be a community that is hurt and wounded.”

Yedioth Ahronoth also reports on the other major development in the case: the motive. The police said the incentive for the crime wasn’t hate, but rather personal vengeance. They state that the three suspects went to the center to kill the fourth man who was arrested, but that they opened fire indiscriminately when they saw he was not there. Despite the cops not classifying the incident as a hate crime, the paper does. “This was a hate crime with one clear motive: revenge.”

Yedioth reports that part of the shock in the LGBT community over the fourth arrest is that the families of the victims were in contact with the man. Members of the LGBT community told the paper that “he invested his whole life to help the Bar Noar community.”

Maariv focuses more on the detective work that brought about the arrests. The break in the investigation came when the police were able to convince a prison inmate — serving time for the transfer of stolen property — to become an informant. The prisoner was released early in exchange for recording conversations with the suspects over a period of two months. Maariv also reports that the three main suspects were known to the law as “small-time crooks” with ties to an Israeli crime family. The police appear confident in their case, telling the paper, “We would not have made the arrests had we not felt confident in the quality of evidence against any of the suspects.”

Haaretz reflects on the gay rights movement overall and looks at Friday’s Gay Pride parade, whose theme is ’20 years of visibility.’ “Pride in the shadow of tragedy,” is the headline on one of the articles. On the inside pages, Eyal Gross recounts some significant advances over the past 20 years. The writer highlights that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Foreign Ministry tout Israel’s record on gay rights, but he says that “the state flies the banner of LGBT rights, but has no active policy of promoting them and doing away with discrimination.”

Border implications

The ongoing Syrian civil war hit closer to home on Thursday with a battle raging at the edge of the Golan Heights — between the rebels and the Syrian army — over control of the only border crossing with Israel. Maariv’s front page gives a concise update with its headline, “Escalation in the Golan: Syrian tanks on the border; UN forces crumble.” Inside, the paper details how the rebels briefly captured the Quneitra border crossing from the Syrian army, only to be expelled a few hours later when Syrian tanks arrived.

Maariv also reports that Austria plans to recall its troops from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the group responsible for maintaining the border between Syria and Israel.

Israel Hayom columnist Yoav Limor writes that the “war came to Israel’s doorstep yesterday” and that the time may soon come for Israel to make a decision about how to react regarding Syria. Limor repeats the argument that, with respect to the Syrian army, everything was clear as to who they support; however, with the rebels, there are a lot of question marks.

Zvi Bar’el, in Haaretz, says that the battle was an important one in the Syrian civil war: The Assad regime views Quneitra as a strategic asset. For the rebels, there is very little benefit in controlling it — it doesn’t improve their position or their logistical support, except for its strategic significance to the Assad regime. The main reason for that importance is its proximity to Israel. “The last thing Assad wants is to give Jerusalem an excuse to attack Syria because forces over which he has no control start firing at Israel,” comments Bar’el.


Yedioth writes that judges are going “back to school.” The recent outrage over a judge — who publicly remarked that “some women enjoy rape” — has prompted Justice Minister Tzipi Livni to have justices take a workshop on sexual assault. Livni said in regard to the remark, “These statements don’t have any place in our society, especially in our courtrooms.”

The Jewish month of Tammuz begins on Sunday and Maariv reports that there will be a “huge ultra-Orthodox demonstration against the Women of the Wall,” an organization that calls for egalitarian prayer practices at the Western Wall. The article isn’t quite sure who is organizing the demonstration, but sources tell the paper that it is Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, but the rabbi denies that he’s behind the demonstration. Regardless of the organizer, the Women of the Wall told the paper: “We have no intention of giving up our mission or way of life.”

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