Today is Tu b’Av, popularly (though mistakenly) supposed to be the Jewish equivalent of St. Valentine’s Day. A love fest. This year, it has turned out to be a hate fest instead.
Yesterday afternoon, the local LGBT community held their annual Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, in the teeth of vociferous opposition from the city’s ultra-orthodox community, who held a counter-demonstration. An ultra-orthodox fanatic, Yishai Schlissel, released just three weeks ago after serving ten years in prison for stabbing three people at the Gay Pride Parade in 2005, and who evidently has not learned his lesson, somehow managed to evade the heavy police security cordon along the route of the parade, and stabbed six people – one of them, a fifteen year old girl who is said to be still in danger of her life.
There is no doubt about it – the Police screwed up, big time. Only two weeks ago, Schlissel was interviewed on an ultra-orthodox radio programme and it was clear from his words that he had no regrets and would repeat his hateful crimes given the slightest chance. He should have been under close police surveillance and kept away, by any means, from the area of the parade.
Moreover, a brief perusal of Facebook, which, after an event like this, always brings out the keyboard warriors, turns up dozens of comments praising his actions. Yet on the other hand, there were also hundreds of condemnations – including the Mayor of Jerusalem, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, Arye Deri (the leader of the ultra-orthodox party Shas), the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who called it “a loathsome hate crime” – to name but a few. The attacker was arrested on the spot and will be tried. If convicted, he will be punished. Of that there is no doubt.
But, of course, the Israel-haters wasted no time in crawling out from under the wood-pile to claim that the attack proves that Israel is anti-democratic and hostile to gays – despite the fact that there are many more anti-gay hate crimes the United States, yet no-one claims that the USA is hostile to gays!
Here in Israel, the anti-religious crowd also used the opportunity to blame the entire religious community for the dastardly crime. I even heard someone on the radio (I was only listening with half an ear so I missed the name of the speaker) make the ridiculous claim that anyone who opposed gay marriage shared in the responsibility for the attack!
And as if that wasn’t enough, the Left is now lumping together everyone on the Right and accusing them of supporting the actions of the ultra-orthodox fanatics who think they are doing the work of God by “cleaning up the pollution”.
I myself identify with the political Right. But I also think Schlissel and his supporters are criminals – one might, justifiably, even call them terrorists – who have set themselves up to be judge, jury and executioner. They justify their actions on the premise that the Torah forbids homosexuality. They seem to have forgotten that the Torah also forbids murder and that the prohibition of murder was proclaimed first, on Mt. Sinai, in the presence of the entire nation.
And from anti-gay hate crimes to what appears to have been a racially-motivated hate crime. In the early hours of this morning, unknown individuals tossed Molotov cocktails into two houses in the Arab “Palestinian” village of Duma, setting them on fire. In the ensuing blaze, an eighteen-month-old toddler, Ali Dawabsheh, was burnt to death and his parents and four-year-old brother were critically injured. The local residents are claiming that the murderers (who were masked) were “settlers” (their term for every religious-looking Jew) and indeed, the fact that the words נקמה (“Vengeance”) and יחי המלך המשיח (“Long Live the King Messiah) were spray-painted on the walls would seem to point to a “Price Tag” atrocity. On the other hand, it has been pointed out that in the past, the “Palestinians” have not been above trying to blame “settlers” for acts carried out by their own people.
I try, as always, to keep an open mind but, much as I hate to believe that Jews could carry out such a heinous crime, I very much fear that, as in the case of Muhammed Abu-Khdeir, who was kidnapped and burnt alive by three Jewish terrorists last summer in revenge for the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teenagers, this will indeed prove to be the case. At any rate, the Israeli leadership seems to think so, and has had no hesitation in calling this a terror attack. Which it is.
As I said, I identify with the political Right. I believe with every fibre of my being that the whole Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. I also believe that whoever murdered this innocent baby is a vile, despicable scumbag, who, when caught, should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.