I am filled with sadness, I am filled with anger. I feel as if the scorching temperatures (reaching 40 degrees Celsius in Jerusalem earlier this week) are but a mirror to the public mood.
Shira Banki, the 16-year-old girl who was stabbed by religious fanatic Yishai Schlissel at the Gay Pride Parade a week ago (see my last post), died on Sunday as a result of her wounds. A vigil in Tel Aviv that was supposed to be a show of unity in the face of fanaticism and terrorism, quickly turned into a politically-charged hate-fest against the political Right and the entire ultra-orthodox community, with the Left cynically using the tragic and senseless deaths of a young Jewish girl and an Arab toddler as a springboard to accuse Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of being responsible for both deaths. Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party, who, as an orthodox Jew, has publicly stated his opposition to gay marriage but has NEVER incited against homosexuals, was invited to the vigil in Tel Aviv and then informed he was not welcome, unless he agreed to sign a statement promising to promote gay rights. As far as the Left goes, anyone who does not fully support all the demands of the LGBT community is guilty of incitement. They also decided to picket Bennett’s private residence.
As far as the horrifying murder of the Arab toddler is concerned, this too was an opportunity for the Left, who failed to win the elections in March, to attempt to bring down the government. In their book, anyone who supports the right of Jews to remain in Judaea and Samaria is guilty of incitement to arson and murder.
It is important to point out that, despite the almost universal condemnation of this despicable crime, both by the Israeli Jewish community and by the UN (which, for some strange reason, has failed to condemn similar terrorist crimes against Israeli Jews), and the administrative arrest (without trial) of Jewish right-wing extremists earlier this week, it is still not certain that it was, in fact, Jews who were responsible and it has been claimed that there are also indications pointing to the possibility that the crime was actually carried out by Arabs. It appears that the family which was targeted was involved in a blood feud with another family. It has also been remarked that it is strange that a group of Jews could have set fire to one house, right in the heart of an Arab village and then, without anyone in the village waking up, managed to paint slogans on the wall and set fire to another house.
I am keeping an open mind about this. I think it is a possibility that the crime was committed by other Arabs, who are now using it to frame Israel. But I also cannot deny the possibility that the murderers were, indeed, Israeli Jewish extremists.
Of one thing I am sure. If it should happen to turn out that the real criminals were Arabs, I would advise no-one to hold their breath while waiting for an apology from the UN.
Nor is the extreme Right behaving any better. In the wake of the sharp condemnation by President Reuven Rivlin (who is not exactly known for left-wing views, to put it mildly) of the murder of the Arab toddler, Ali Dawabsheh, he found himself under attack for allegedly caring more about dead Arab children than dead Jewish children. A video (later found to have been uploaded by an American Jew) uploaded to the internet showed Rivlin and Netanyahu in Nazi uniforms, and the President has been receiving death threats.
And on Facebook, Twitter, Disqus and across the global reaches of cyberspace, the internet keyboard warriors on both sides gave no quarter. A particularly sickening reaction to the stabbing of six participants at the Gay Pride Parade was a Facebook post by one Gilad Kleiner, who publicly expressed both his delight over the stabbings and his disappointment that the victims were still alive. Arrested and questioned, he was later released on bail. A couple of days later, when Shira died, he posted another message, expressing his joy at her death! Kleiner, who also expressed the wish that other “deviants” would die, and who is said to have a history of mental problems, has since been indicted for incitement to violence, but he is not the only one to have taken to social media to express similar sentiments. Bitter accusations of the most inflammatory – and defamatory – nature flew to and fro like arrows all week, with one side accusing the other of supporting bestial, unnatural practices, and insisting that sodomites deserve to be put to death, and the other side accusing anyone who failed to publicly support “full rights for gays” of complicity in the murder of Shira Banki, and demonstrating against them, holding up hands covered with fake blood. Among the so-called “accomplices to murder”, and “fundamentalist bigots”, they also included anyone who, while basically supporting gay rights, felt that it might have been better not to hold the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, with its large religious population.
At the beginning of last week, Jews the world over marked the fast of Tisha b’Av, commemorating the destruction of both the First and Second Temples. Of the Second Temple, we are told that it was destroyed because of causeless hatred (שנאת חינם) between Jews. I listen to the tone of public debate now raging, to the burning hostility between the extremists of all camps and their contemptuous dismissal of all those in the middle who refuse to support extremism of any kind (“If you’re not with us, you’re against us”) and I wonder if causeless hatred is not about to destroy us again.
Meanwhile, the “Palestinians” continue trying to kill Jews. A few days ago, a young Jewish woman miraculously escaped death when a Molotov cocktail was thrown at her car in Jerusalem. And yesterday, three soldiers were mown down and injured (two of them very seriously) by a “Palestinian” driver who deliberately rammed his car into them.
And then there is the heat. The temperatures dropped slightly yesterday, but they’re on the rise again. The mercury is expected to hit 36 degrees today in Jerusalem, and to carry on rising over the weekend.
Tempers too, no doubt.
And I am filled with anger.
And I am filled with sadness.