Note: This article is in response to the stabbings that took place at the Jerusalem annual gay pride parade on July 30, 2015.
It shouldn’t happen. It shouldn’t happen anywhere. But especially not now, not here, not in Jerusalem.
It shouldn’t happen in the only country in the Middle East that hosts a public gay rights parade of this acceptance and magnitude. It shouldn’t happen in a country where the Prime Minister himself supports the rights of gay people to march and to live and to be free.
Not here. Not now.
Am I angry at Hasidism? No. This man is one man. Am I angry at religion? Not really.
I’m angry at history. For not progressing as quickly as our genetics have, and not as quickly as our love of human civil rights has, and certainly not as quickly as the human heart has.
This man is sick; he is mentally ill. Sane people don’t do this. This man has used the word of God in vain; to destroy and to hurt. He wanted to kill. For God. For the sake of God. For God’s sake. For God’s sake.
I have discussed with close friends the notion of religious mental insanity. I have studied Yehuda Klein Ha-Levi‘s writings and his evolution from violent activist to reasonable political force.
One man can change from a hater and a violent adversary—from a killer, even—into something else. I believe that to be true. I can’t believe anything else.
I am not excusing this act. But as a bleeding heart liberal, I see this as a case of mental instability, not just religious zeal. I can’t let this one act by this man justify eliminating religion. It’s not that simple.
Every major religious and political authority in Israel has denounced it, as they should.
And as for the racist sentiments I’ve seen splattered all over social media to the tune of, “This shows the true nature of Jews/Israelis,” to those people I don’t even care to engage in conversation. Because people who take an isolated act by a mentally ill man who is part of a fringe sect of Orthodoxy that does not speak for all Jews, all of Orthodoxy, and certainly not for all Israelis and turns it into a statement about any of those entities is not receptive to a conversation. They just want to hate and continue the insanity.
I pray for peace for the injured and for their loved ones. And I pray that we can understand somehow, anyhow, anytime, why now and why here.
And I pray that we not use this tragedy as a symbol of Jews, Orthodoxy, or the state of Israel. Because that’s just crazy.