You are being invited to buy into the image of Tel Aviv as the “Mediterranean capital of Gay tourism,” tempted by “[t]he people, the bars, the parties, the restaurants, the white sandy beaches, the sense of absolute freedom – these are the components that justify this image.” But this is just an image, an image they are “working non stop to build”, as letter writer, Yaniv Waizman (Tel-Aviv City Council Member and Chairman of the tourism committee), himself notes. Before you book your ticket or tell your friends how fun Tel Aviv is (and yes, it is fun) I want to take a moment to invite you not just to celebrate the freedom bestowed upon some in that city, but also the freedom denied to others by the very same politicians, the same political discourse. Especially in days and weeks after the attack on the Agudah in Tel Aviv, the rights of some are being celebrated in direct conjunction to the denial of rights of others, and it is becoming more and more clear that those embraced in the communal “we” is a select group—Jewish citizens of the state, especially gender conforming, especially Ashkenazi, especially upper class, especially men. So instead of allowing the Israeli ministry of tourism to sell you an image, here are some thoughts about what it means to me to be an Israeli queer, an invitation to building solidarity with Israeli queers in our own struggles to make this land a more just place for all.

Israel is so proud to represent itself as a liberal state, and recently has touted Tel Aviv’s gay-friendliness in particular. Contrary to this representation, I do not experience being queer in Israel as a privilege bestowed upon me by the state (though as a Jewish citizen of course I have considerable rights denied others). Instead, queer visibility in Israel is about undermining the dictates of the state and resisting the policing of bodies and lives – ours and others. Queer resistance goes hand in hand with resisting the oppression of other minorities and refusing complacency and collaboration.

This attack, all appear to agree, was not perpetrated on what we call in Israel the “national background,” meaning it did not have nationalistic motivation, but it is still part of that background. This homophobic attack is linked to the occupation by the discourse of “terrorism” (and the material reality of it) as well as the discourse of “rights” (and the way they are denied so many). When Israeli media and politicians talk about supporting equal rights for gay people, they elide the more fundamental issue of basic human rights systematically denied to so many by this state.

This irony is suppressed in the general discourse following the attack, as well as during the vigils taking place afterward as well. Nisreen Mazzawi of Aswat Group – Palestinian gay women, reported that neither a representative from Aswat, nor former member of Knesset Issam Machool, were allowed to speak.

Angry queers take to the streets daily, refusing condolences and consolation from those same politicians who are responsible for so many Israeli violations of human rights, and the protest of this attack is immediately understood in the larger context of what we need to resist here (and in fact just after the attack a group of activists, many of whom were queer, faced police violence and arrest as they protested home-demolitions in East Jerusalem).

I understand this attack, and to a certain extent the discourse following it (celebrating freedom for some, continuously ignoring and denying rights of others), as directed against the possibility of queer existence, against our already limited (if not futile) acts of resistance against a system in which patriarchy, heteronormativity, militarism and occupation are completely intertwined.

No matter how much officials speak out against the attack or try to paint it as an exception in an otherwise liberal and accepting state, the attack is not an exception. It is an extension of the violence perpetrated by the state against so many in this land, and it is further proof that there can be no double standard, with rights for Israeli Jews (especially white, Ashkenazi, middle-class, and straight), and the oppression of so many others others (non-Jews, undocumented workers, Palestinians to name a few). Violence against some people can never make other people safe. My freedom cannot come at the expense of someone else’s freedom. I vehemently refuse to allow Israel to exploit me as an example of its supposed progressiveness. I refuse to be used for propaganda. I think we all must refuse to be used to justify the silencing of others. And as always we must refuse to allow our dissent to be silenced.

So if you choose Tel Aviv as “your next holiday destination,” please keep in mind those folks you won’t see on the beach, those under siege in the occupied territories, those hiding from immigration police, those whose gender non-conformity makes them unsafe. We want Tel Aviv to be safe, we need it to be safe, but the recent attack is a reminder that it still isn’t safe. It is not time to come and celebrate yet.