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15-Year-Old Boy Shot During the Tel Aviv Youth Center Attack Sues For $4 Million. Kosher?

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Remember August’s horrific gay youth center shooting that left two dead and about a dozen injured? Fifteen-year-old Yonatan Buks certainly does, because he’s among those the bullets hit. And now he’s suing for $4 million. But who is he suing? The youth center.

In a lawsuit just filed in Tel Aviv, Buks’s family is looking for a massive payout for his nonlethal injuries from the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association, which runs the youth center the gunman — still at large — attacked. And while the gay community there can understand his rage, the center’s members and staff don’t understand why they’re going after them.

“Yonatan is very dear to us, and we understand the suit is part of the family’s way of coping,” says the center’s manager Shaul Gannon. “This boy was abandoned by the state and needs help. I can only wish him health and love from the bottom of my heart.” And Ynet quotes an unidentified member of the organization: “We understand Yonatan and his pain. It is not easy to listen to the claim, but I don’t suppose he is motivated by greed. I believe he really fears the future and feels he needs money.”

It’s hard to charge a 15-year-old victim with “greed” when his injuries remain severe and his ability to speak challenged. But the motivation of his attorney is clear: find someone to blame. “I am sure (the gay center) was full of good intentions, but when you take upon yourself such a huge responsibility, replace the parents, and take a child through an activity that holds danger it is your duty to get the parents’ approval,” says Buks’s family lawyer Eitan Peleg. “The center functioned with an ‘open door’ policy, every Saturday at the same place and the same time, and without security cameras, an alarm, call buttons, or escape routes. We have all been exposed to the homophobia that runs rampant. You can start by closing the door.”

Indeed, any building could be made more secure by outfitting the place with cameras and a locked door. But part of the center’s appeal was that anyone could come in, no questions asked. Did that make for more lax security? Sure. But some schools, run by the state, are not even equipped with such security measures. It’s hard to fault an organization committed to keeping Israel’s queer youth safe with, well, not doing so. But it’s also hard to imagine anyone there could have foreseen a maniacal gunman storming the place and opening fire.

All around, it’s an unfortunate incident, and we’re not sure whose side to take in the case. Or whether that’s even a realistic possibility.

By:           editor editor
On:           Dec 9, 2009
Tagged: , , , , ,

  • 22 Comments
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      I feel sorry for the kid of course, especially if he is disabled. Perhaps the youth center could have had more security. But even if it did and something failed then they’re still at fault?

      Fine. Don’t have any youth centers.

      Dec 9, 2009 at 9:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • terrwill
      terrwill

      Its comforting to know that other countries lawyers besides
      Americas can be scumbags………..

      Dec 9, 2009 at 10:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • scott ny'er
      scott ny'er

      oh boy. don’t blame the guy who actually shot the kid, nope, blame the one helping the kid. nice.

      Dec 9, 2009 at 10:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JoeB
      JoeB

      I think you’re missing a few words in the headline, like ‘sues for $4 million’ I know you want to leave space for the Jewish snark, but try complete thoughts for headlines instead of random words thrown together.

      Dec 9, 2009 at 10:54 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jacob
      Jacob

      Blaming the center whose intention was to help him in the first place. I feel sorry for the kid but it was not the center who open fired. Sure they could have security measures but there’s nothing to suggest that this still would not have happened. Something you just have no control over. It upsets me that someone could be so full of hate and go shooting at a gay YOUTH center. These are kids like myself who are looking for help and support. That individual had undoubtedly a heart of stone.

      Dec 9, 2009 at 11:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      This is like blaming an abortion clinic for being bombed.

      Dec 9, 2009 at 12:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Keith Kimmel
      Keith Kimmel

      I am going to have to disagree with everyone above. We have a GLBT center in Tulsa and I am on a planning committee thats getting together to build one in Oklahoma City. The one in Tulsa is very open, very welcoming and while its probably still possible for someone to go in and shoot the place up if they really want to, it does have some basic safeguards including a door that can be locked by the front desk attendant pressing a button. Such devices are not expensive. Security cameras are cheap, too. While it may not have prevented the incident from taking place, it might have gathered critical evidence to bring the asshole who did it to justice.

      You don’t open a GLBT center and not make basic preparations to protect the people inside. It sounds to me like all they did was give him a place to make a target and they had not so much as a lock on the door. What this center did was negligent. I’m sorry, but the lawsuit is justified. I just hope the organization was smart enough to insure itself and the center doesn’t wind up closing as a result of this, but if it does, you can blame the leadership of the center, not the kid or his lawyer.

      Believe you me, we have talked about this incident plenty in our planning meetings.

      Dec 9, 2009 at 2:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TommyOC
      TommyOC

      @Keith: Thank you for your contribution. I certainly appreciate what you’re doing for the youth of your area and the measures your taking to ensure successful, safe operation.

      That said, we Americans are all about security. We plan for worst-case scenarios. I don’t recall when an unwelcome visitor showed up at my front door, but that doesn’t stop me from using all three locks to guard my house. We have news programs that constantly use the latest tragedy as a springboard to “it could happen to you/how you can protect yourself”-stories. It’s a vicious cycle.

      In other countries, that sort paranoia and fear isn’t so deep-seeded. Sure, homophobia and its mainstream acceptance is actually higher in many countries, but you’d be hard-pressed to make the argument that these people are nearly as well equipped as Americans are in expressing their grievances. I don’t say this as an anti-American attitude (because I love my country and love being an American), I say this simply as fact.

      And as many of the folks above have noted, the whole concept of a youth center (or any GLBT gathering spot) is openness. Sure, you can introduce some protective measures, but if you make it a fortress, you’re doing a disservice to your community. I don’t want to visit a place to unwind and feel at peace if I have to go through a checkpoint and ID verification to do so.

      And besides, in the end, these kids are much safer at these centers than they are on the streets or even within their own neighborhoods.

      A happy balance needs to be found. And taking $4mil from a youth center isn’t going to do the community it serves any good. With any luck, the center had insurance and that insurance can reach a settlement with ALL of the victims collectively (to avoid prolonged and repetitive suits) – WITHOUT admitting wrongdoing.

      Dec 9, 2009 at 3:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CHIP1218
      CHIP1218

      I think the issue at hand is that he was a minor and if this wasn’t affiliated with any school or organization his parents agreed to allow him to attend, they never gave consent and he is a minor, therefore the center was responsible for his security and well-being.

      If a 15yo went to an abortion clinic and she was shot, the same would apply, there was no parental consent to be there, the clinic should push them away. It’s not a perfect law, but I believe that’s the legality of the situation.

      Dec 9, 2009 at 3:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • melanie
      melanie

      If his was in the USA – they would be suing for a lot more. The lawsuite is based on his injuries and continued medical needs. In he grand scheme of things – it will not be a lot of money.
      Who else is there to sue? Its not about blame – it is about responsibility and obligation. The Center is responsible and it is obligated. The minute you take on such a venture – or task- by opening your doors – especially touted as a “safe” environment- then people come there expecting just that. Given animosity toward gays (and in Israel they know there is such from right wing of ultra ortho) they should have provided constant and adequate question. I argue that the center failed because by being a GAY Center it actually has a heightened obligation to ensure safety. Hopefully they are insured. That is why tehre is insurance. Just for this very reason. If there is a failure somewhere – and a tragedy such as this occurs tehre will be money to help the victims. To even suggest this is greed, when we have no idea how lawsuits work in Israel in terms of damages, is pure bad reporting. Common ytou guys can do better than this. Be on the side of the Gay Kid who deserves help. Not on the side of the cenetr who if it fif its job right – ie had enough security PLUS has insurance – then no problem for them.

      Dec 9, 2009 at 3:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • melanie
      melanie

      the word question is typo – “security” replace in above comment

      Dec 9, 2009 at 3:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • schlukitz
      schlukitz

      What Keith said makes a lot of sense.

      However good the intentions of the Youth Center might have been,
      what is at issue here, is the matter of public liability. This was a public place, just like disc0s,bars,community centers, retail stores or any other place whose doors are open to the public at large and for whatever purpose.

      And just as the above mentioned are legally charged with the responsibility of maintaining visibly placed exit signs, fire alarms, sprinkler systems, security cameras and public liability insurance, so should any space that is made available to the public for regularly scheduled meetings, fund-raisers and similar events.

      Gay Youth centers should not be an exception.

      Dec 9, 2009 at 3:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Oh, Schlukitz……and we agree so much! Absolutely, if the center was negligent they are responsible. If the fire alarms didn’t work, if they don’t fix a leak and the floor is covered with water and someone slips….

      But I’ve yet to hear about a store being responsible for you being shot by a madman. Perhaps I’m mistaken. My point in the very first post is they could have taken all those measures and still something could happen?

      (As an aside though, I’m surprised with the rampant conservatism and homophobia in Israel I would thought a door lock & security cameras would be minimums)

      Dec 9, 2009 at 4:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • melanie
      melanie

      Negligence has different standards. A shoe store’s obligation to ensure physical safety from a mad gunmen would have a different standrad when compared to a GAY AND LESBIAN YOUTH CENTER in the heart of Tel Aviv. The latter is a TARGET – clearly. So there should have been safety mechanisms for this very kind of attack. Israel is always in a heightened state of alert and the security is usually tight. The element of negligence will be judged oon this basis by the court. If the Ceneter is insured the fight will be between Insurance and the Boy. The fight may turn out to be less about the events and more abpout the injuries and what the damages ought to be., It all depends on the facts ofwhich this blog provides very little,

      Dec 9, 2009 at 4:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Melanie – Of course you must know that I’m aware a shoe store and a GLBT youth center have different standards for negligence.

      So often these really heart-wrenching high profile stories don’t get followed up on, so it will be interesting to see if we find out did the center really have no security…. also, these kinds of things always have many contributors, several board of directors – if indeed it turns out there was nothing, how could this happen in a place like Israel? What were they thinking?

      Dec 9, 2009 at 4:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Keith Kimmel
      Keith Kimmel

      Well, Tommy, I agree to a point. I do agree that the media is guilty of using every tragedy to whip up hysteria and inflame passions and fears. Most people think America is being hit with an unprecedented crime wave right now (this is manifested in American’s constantly expressed desire for more police and security), when in reality most categories of crime have been declining for years.

      However, I disagree with your assertion that Americans plan for the worst as a result of the hysteria/bullshit mix. Katrina was a shining example of how most people have little to no preparation at all for even an inconvenient disaster, much less “the worst case scenario”.

      Even a quickie mart has security cameras and many of them now have the electronic door locks I spoke of, too. They are about as far as one can get from a fortress. This is proven by how regularly they are robbed. It happens every couple of weeks around here, as in most places. There is also some truth to the notion that if someone wants to do harm, they will find a way. Our airports are proof of this. But I think you have to take some precautions, you can’t just throw up your hands and say “Well, if they want to do harm, they’ll do it!” and leave the front door wide open.

      A community center cant be a fortress and it has to be open and welcoming to the community it serves. Its one thing to be open and welcoming, its quite another to be truly wide open and letting anyone wander in off the street with no access control of any kind. The latter is a bad thing and must be avoided. In Tulsa, the outer door can be locked with the button. When you walk in, there is an attendant (they are staffed by volunteers) and a lobby, and its arranged so that you sort of have to get past the attendant before you can get to the rest of the center. Most of the rooms where people occupy are way down a hall way or upstairs, so there might be time for people to take cover if someone started doing something. Its not Fort Knox, but the idea of security is not lost. This center does not have a residential shelter.

      If that community center is also a shelter, it really needs to have a security guard of some sort together with meaningful access control. Sort of like a doctor’s office. You have the receptionist with a waiting room and a locked door leading back to the exam rooms and the rest of the facility. The receptionist has to admit folks to the center and of course uses good judgment in doing so. Sure, someone could shoot the receptionist and buzz themselves in, but during that time folks can make for emergency exits, take cover, etc. Its not just a room full of sitting targets.

      In ours, we are opening in space shared with a church in a storefront. Once we are established and raise sufficient funds to construct a building, we plan to include a shelter in ours as well. Access to the shelter area will be strictly controlled with only residents and staff being admitted and there will be a 24/7 staff presence on site, whether its security or volunteers.

      Dec 9, 2009 at 5:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • melanie
      melanie

      I am reading into this that the Blogger is suggesting that an open door policy “no questions asked” is an excuse for foregoing security for a traget group in a security danger area.

      Dec 9, 2009 at 5:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • melanie
      melanie

      The Blogger took this from http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3816910,00.html

      This is the Part of the article that this Blogger cleaqrly purposely left out to swing his viewpoint about greed – subjective possibly biased inference “KOSHER” in Title.

      The attorney said he relied on the center’s insurance to pay the damages Buks is demanding. He added that the state and Tel Aviv Municipality should also bear the burden of responsibility. “The municipality never demanded a business license. If it had, it would have automatically demanded security devices,” Peleg said. “The municipality permitted the place to function unsupervised.” NOWDO YOUsee there is an importance to the lawsuit and its bigger than the Victim young Buks himself. Its about following the law when you open your door. There is a lesson. I am disapointed in this blogger failing to reflect full picture.

      Dec 9, 2009 at 5:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • chicagotist
      chicagotist

      @18,

      It’s not quite clear, but I don’t believe the city demands “business licenses” from non-profits and support centers. Besides, the organization is actually accredited by the government (they even have permission to come to schools to talk).

      I also have been to a clinic in Israel for a tetanus shot, and I don’t recall there being guards at the door (but I grant I just may not recall it). On top of that, I also have been to a doctor’s office (just waiting inside for a relative), there was no security detail. Anyone could have come in (no locked doors), gone up the stairs, and shot the secretaries, walked in further for the patients and doctors.

      That said, the center should have provided some basic safety precautions. However, I don’t think it would have mattered in the end. It seems to me from the attacker’s m.o. that he was prepared and would not have any problems evading “the basic precautions.”

      Dec 9, 2009 at 6:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Keith Kimmel
      Keith Kimmel

      I don’t know shit about Israeli law, but in the United States, when you open a residential youth facility, there are certain codes that have to be met as to fire exits, safety equipment, security, insurance, etc, etc. If you serve food, that’s usually when the licenses come in, but some states have licenses specifically for residential treatment facilities.

      Dec 10, 2009 at 12:50 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • schlukitz
      schlukitz

      Ni Jaroslaw no. 13. Nice to hear from you again.

      I cannot speak for Israel, as I have no knowledge of their laws.

      However, I can speak for the laws of New York State where I, as the owner of a retail store, was sued for negligence a number of years ago, to the tune of $1.2 million dollars, for just such an occurrence.

      Life’s a bitch! ;)

      Dec 10, 2009 at 2:34 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Schlukitz – nice to see you too. Now, you know as well as I do that in America anyone who can sign a paper can file a lawsuit, whether the store is actually responsible or not; they are called nuisance or frivolous lawsuits with one purpose- for the plaintiff/lawyer to get rich.

      Unfortunately they are often settled because pursuit of the truth is expensive. That doesn’t make the store morally or legally liable because they chose to settle out of court. Of course, your bank account doesn’t know the difference…. :(

      Dec 10, 2009 at 9:47 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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