You’ve probably heard the news that 16-year-old Shira Banki, one of the six people stabbed at last Thursday’s pride parade in Jerusalem, died from her wounds.
As I read article after article, I consider the right for women to inhabit public spaces. I contemplate a woman’s right to risk death for her beliefs, no longer confined in a house. I recall my friend, a fantastic high school teacher, reminding her students that America’s understanding of a civil right’s time line is amended. In America, we tend to begin civil rights studies with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and misbelieve in rapid change. We enjoy famous rhetoric and forget social achievements are often gradual and bloody.
The riff between the religious and the secular might seem strange to people who believe the separation of Church and State is fundamental political bedrock, but these beliefs are not universal. Any deviation from heteronormitivity is perceived as a very real threat to a city centered in centuries of tumult wanting to be distinct as a religious Holy City. Consider, for a moment, this identity – a deeply rooted cultural identity – also seeking expression without feeling infringed upon.
I am not suggesting protesters burning trash to create flaming barricades and attacking policemen with rocks when Jerusalem held its first officially planned Pride Parade in 2006 were right. I am not suggesting that the 2008 debate to ban pride parades and rallies was democratic. (Note: it did not pass.) I am not suggesting I give any kind of support for these past or recent violent attacks. I am suggesting, however, that we consider the context. I am saying we should have hope and acknowledge that culture is moving toward productive conversations about sexuality and individual rights even though it still costs human lives.