Thousands of people attended the funeral of 16 year-old Shira Banki on Monday night, after she succumbed to her wounds from the stabbing attack at the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade last Thursday. She was laid to rest in the Kibbutz Nachshon cemetery near Beit Shemesh.
“We had four wonderful children, who were intelligent, beautiful, good and especially good friends one of the other, and we are left with three with pain and longing shocking that every parent would rather die than feel,” Shira’s parents, Uri and Mika, stated during their eulogy.
“We had a girl who was lucky, had good genes and a great education – and we’re not too modest to take credit for two out of three – and she had huge quantities of intelligence, and more importantly, no less emotional intelligence.”
“Everyone hurts from her murder,” they continued. “This is the needless deaths of an innocent young girl.”
“Neither we nor Shira were part of the LGBT community, but we support the right of everyone to maintain their way of life and customs and the message of love and tolerance […] she also received from us,” they added, noting how proud they were of her accomplishments in her short life.
Along those lines, the parents stressed that they have no quarrel with the religious community; Shira’s murderer is a haredi man, Yishai Shlissel, who had committed a similar attack in 2005.
“We want to say that we have no quarrel with the people with kippot (yarmulkes – ed.) or beards, and we know how many prayers sincerity and emotion were made in public and behind closed doors for her recovery,” they said. “The quarrel of ours is with intolerance, hatred and achieving your goals at the expense of the pain of others.”
“Now we will go home and begin to build a new family – to learn to live as five instead of six,” they concluded. “We will try to hate less and love more, and this is what we offer to everyone.”
“A girl of principles”
Earlier Monday, President Reuven Rivlin also eulogized Shira, while speaking at an event marking the 90th anniversary of General Federation of Students and Young Workers movement.
“Shira, a victim of a hate crime, died of her injuries,” Rivlin said. “She was murdered, her organs were donated and are saving lives. Shira was your age, she loved to enjoy life, she loved animals, and she believed in life.”
“Shira was also a girl of principles,” he added. “She joined the parade in the name of the values in which she believed – tolerance, equality, hope, and love. Her life which was deliberately cut short was that of a young citizen, who was involved, engaged, active, interested, and responsible.”
The President emphasized the need to fight incitement and hatred actively and said, “The battle against incitement and hatred does not begin and end with police protection. When a murder has already occurred, condemnation and outrage will not help. Silence and indifference to both real and virtual threats will only increase the danger.”
“We cannot wait for the moment of truth in order to fight hatred, incitement and violence,” he added. “Educating about tolerance and allowing others to define their identity must begin at school, within the tribe, in the nest, and in the youth movements. We must act now to design and build a healthier social fabric which is stronger, more inclusive, and we must do so with your help.”
“Israeli society is now built out of four main tribes; the ultra-Orthodox, Arabs, the secular, and the national religious,” he continued. “We are not asking for the blurring of the identities of the tribes into a melting pot of enforced uniformity. Our national mission in this generation is to build a bridge of partnership between the tribes or between communities, out of mutual respect, for the sake of those generations living together in the future.”