For his new series, Yuval Ben Ami goes nocturnal to chronicle this land’s summer nights. The journey begins with a dark event: the deadly attack on Jerusalem Pride, but hope soon follows. Part one.
The plan is simple: I will only write about things that happened after dark. Still, I must begin with something that happened at dusk.
It was 6:30 p.m. or so and we were walking in central West Jerusalem when six people got stabbed right before our eyes. It wasn’t anything you wouldn’t expect. We were marching as part of Jerusalem’s LGBT pride march. In a city this conservative, every such march is met with threats, and sometimes the worst comes to pass. We were close enough to see people scattering and hear the screams, and see the victims lying on the road. When the police motioned for us to move on, we walked by blood.
I was in drag. I’m both proud and sad to be Israel’s only out cross-dresser. I march in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem’s pride parades, hoping to inspire others like me to be less ashamed, less afraid. Sadly, down the same street walk those who seek to instill fear and they are handy with knives.
That is what I thought, but I soon learned that “they” are in fact a single individual, inspired by leaders who speak hatred but do not physically act on it. The stabber, it was rumored, was the very same man who stabbed participants at Jerusalem Pride 10 years ago. Soon the rumor was confirmed. He was only three weeks out of prison, and the authorities somehow never bothered to check on his whereabouts on the evening in question. Six were wounded, one 16-year-old girl was in critical condition. The girl, Shira Banki, has since succumbed to her wounds. We had witnessed a murder.
I want to be in Jerusalem
The police ushered us to the march’s end point: pleasant, easily secured “Liberty Bell Park”, which features a replica of Philadelphia’s icon. We sat on a bench with friends, all of us distraught and confused, and listened to the speakers fumble for words onstage. We were safe and in good company, but I felt restless. “Let’s get out of here,” I suggested to Ruthie, my partner, “I don’t want to be in a tolerant ghetto....Read More