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Monday, November 06, 2006

Instructive

Watching the the haredim rioting on the streets of Jerusalem has been instructive on many levels.

It has been instructive to note that many haredim feel that making open threats of violence (and even death) against fellow Jews is permissible when faced with the simple presence of a person/people considered to be objectionable.  This sounds suspiciously like the rationale used by the Arabs for launching the intifada in the wake of Ariel Sharon visiting the Temple mount.

It has been instructive to note that not one of these black-clad men would dare take to the streets without explicit instructions and encouragement from their Rabbinic leaders.  Make no mistake, the violence can be turned on and off like a spigot.  Yet until the attorney general intervened, the police were seriously considering calling off the gay pride parade because of uncontrollable violence.  This suggests an extremely poor understanding of the word 'uncontrollable'. 

It has been instructive to note that the reason given for the violent reaction to the proposed gay pride parade is the desecration of Jerusalem's sanctity.  Funny how Jews threatening to beat, and even kill, other Jews on the streets of holy Jerusalem isn't considered a desecration if her sanctity. 

It has been instructive to note that the requirement under Jewish Law to obey the laws of the land is transgressed here in the Holy land by many haredim to the same extent as in other countries where they may reside... if not to a greater extent.  Apparently Jewish law can be applied selectively when it suits an agenda.   

It has been instructive to note that the 'pious' Rabbis who send their followers into the streets of Jerusalem to protect the sanctity of the holy city feel no pressing need to use their considerable influence to find a way to free the chained women (agunot) whose continued suffering is a blight on the very soul of Jerusalem, Eretz Yisrael and the entire Jewish world.  Perhaps most instructive of all is that some issues demand decisive action while others can be placed on a halachic back-burner.

I am a religious Jew who endeavors to observe the commandments.  I believe that we will all be called to answer for what we do in this life... and perhaps more importantly, what we fail to do.  I believe in my heart that there is a special punishment awaiting so-called Rabbis who abuse their authority, lead their followers astray and shame the Jewish people before the world.  I believe the punishment that awaits them is the same as for false prophets and messiahs.

Of course, I could just as easily be wrong as right in what I say here.  Ask me again at the end of days.  That should prove to be especially instructive.

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Posted by David Bogner on November 6, 2006 | Permalink

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Perhaps the essential step is the asking of the questions, and sooner rather than later. In the asking lies the posibility of reasoning and dialogue and (who knows?) understanding. Of course, it may be less instructive if one asks only self-serving questions--as, I suspect, these rabbis have done. Still, just taking the time to ask the questions should be helpful when taking extreme measures, such as threatening arbitrary and violent judgment upon your fellow human beings.

Posted by: Delmar Bogner | Nov 6, 2006 3:52:58 PM

I believe that we will all be called to answer for what we do in this life... and perhaps more importantly, what we fail to do.

Along those lines; I'm wondering if those of us who do not share the view of the haredim have a duty to take part in Friday's march, in the same way that PFLAG does in US marches.

Posted by: Andy Levy-Stevenson | Nov 6, 2006 4:01:04 PM

Great (yet depressing) post.

Nothing else to add.

Yellow Boy

Posted by: Yellow Boy | Nov 6, 2006 4:01:23 PM

I agree with you that Jewish law can be applied selectively when it suits an agenda… BUT, it would beat sense to have an act that is not FULLY acceptable in society today being flaunted on what is considered to be a Holy City by both Jews and Non-Jews, isn’t Judaism’s Most Holy Site in the same town? Then, I wouldn’t question the men-in-black, although it was a Kabbalistic curse, ask Ariel how it feels to be in bed right now, any motive by a Rabbi and you keep your eyes closed unless of course they want to take over the Temple Mount. But that’s just me. :-)

Posted by: Rami (aka pk) | Nov 6, 2006 4:24:02 PM

If there are JIBs this year, rest assured I'll be nominating this for best post. Amen, David.

Posted by: PP | Nov 6, 2006 4:34:38 PM

I believe that violence is never the answer, BUT:

When the gay/lesbian community completely ignores the very real sensitivities of a majority of the people in Israel (polls show that even chilonim think that the parade shouldn't be held in Jerusalem and a petition with 300,000 signatures was signed stating that the parade shouldn't be held)and decides to hold their parade in Jerusalem davka to poke a finger in our eyes...AND

When the government refuses to let Jews go to Har Habayit because of the fear of violence from the Arabs.. how are you then supposed to convince others that peaceful protesting is the way to go? How do you teach them that violence doesn't pay? In this country, IT DOES!

What disturbs me is the fact that a lot of young people in the Dati Leumi camp really look up to the Charedim BECAUSE of the fact that they are protesting so vehemently. They see those of us who do not believe in violence as the biggest friars (Israeli slang for losers)in the world, and they blame the fact that the disengagement went through on the fact that we weren't violent enough. How do you answer that?

Posted by: westbankmama | Nov 6, 2006 4:50:08 PM

Throwing stones and epithets is not holy. Screaming at other Jews (or non-Jews, for that matter) for being homosexual or lesbian is not Ahavat Yisroel. Behavior that expresses hatred toward one another delays Moshiach.

I understand that many feel the parade is objectionable because of the sexual orientation of the marchers. If you feel it is objectionable, you shouldn't go. If you want to make a statement instead of ignoring it, bring a sign or line the sidewalk and turn your back, pointedly, as the marchers approach.

This is a democracy in a Jewish state, which means that the sensibilities of ALL its citizens must be respected, and that includes the sensitivities of gay and lesbian citizens who ask for a permit to parade. I understand those who feel that homosexual behavior is an abomination; I don't happen to share that belief but believe instead that they are as H"S made them, and it is not for me to question why. If you find homosexuality abominable, stay home or go to the beach or visit relatives in Gush Etzion--but don't usher Shabbat with blood on your hands. That would truly be an abomination.

Posted by: aliyah06 | Nov 6, 2006 5:01:48 PM

A very very good post. Well said. It's nice to hear someone from the religious side saying what you said, not just secular people. Thank you.

Posted by: Katherine | Nov 6, 2006 5:35:02 PM

Dad... I don't think there is much room for 'dialogue' between the two sides on this issue. And quite frankly I'm OK with that. Some issues are just deal breakers and no amount of rationalizing will change that. My problem is with the way in which one party is expressing their displeasure... and the selectivity with which this issue has been chosen while other, more serious transgressions go on without a mention.

Andy Levy-Stevenson... I'm not much of a marcher even on issue about which I feel passionately pro or con. This post was not meant to express support of one view or the other. It was meant to express my disgust with the religious camp (of which I count myself a member) for their stupid handling of this event from start to finish.

yellow boy... Thank you.

Rami... Every hour of every day there are robberies, assaults, illegal/dishonest business transactions, adultery, traif food bought-sold-and consumed, and countless other assaults on the holiness of Jerusalem. Every shabbat people drive, turn on and off lights, cook, watch TV, talk on the phone and surf the web... all within the holy city. Where is the outrage? Where are the riots? We have no idea what the relative weight/value of any of the commandments. For all we know G-d doesn't much care about homosexuality but shatnez (the mixing of wool and linen) is a deal -breaker! We just don't know. Who are these people who think they know G-d's mind so well and feel entitled to judge in His stead?

PP... I'm glad you liked the post. However I would hate to be nominated for a JIB for a post that is so filled with anger and self-loathing. As I've noted earlier... while I have issues with haredim, there is more that ties my life to theirs than to most of the marchers in the parade.

Westbankmama... This isn't about the parade or the right of the marchers to stick their finger in anyone's eye. This is about the right of anyone to act violently in this country to achieve their goals. I hold the religious community to a higher standard of conduct than the non-religious community... especially when they claim to be acting in the name of religion. This post is about my anger at religious people failing to live up to their own standards. If you were relating only to what I wrote here today, your first sentence would have sufficed (with no need for the 'but').

aliyah06... you make an excellent point that we are living in a democracy. Too many people act as though we live in a theocracy and that they have been empowered by the Sanhedrin to carry out punishment.

Katherine... I don't represent anyone but myself, but thank you for the compliment.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Nov 6, 2006 5:44:14 PM

I find it infuriating. They are acting like a bunch of jackasses and I haven't any problem phrasing it in this manner.

There is no excuse nor rationale for acting in this manner.

How do I explain to my children/others why some charedim are acting in this manner. And fwiw, I have already been approached by a few people about this.

Instead of making this issue go away they have turned it into a major event.

The worst part is when we look at how many more serious issues exist. How many of these charedi families and others are living in poverty. Nice to know that they have a solution to their financial problems.

Just burn the bills and riot.

Posted by: Jack | Nov 6, 2006 6:23:59 PM

I am a religious Jew. I wear a kippah. I have my views in which I believe that certain specific homosexual actions are forbidden by halakha (just as certain heterosexual acts are also forbidden).

And yet, after witnessing from the sidelines the hate and venom expressed at the marchers at last year's event, I vowed that "next time" I would participate.
With all that has gone on and the vandalism and destruction in MY CITY, near my home, endangering my life from certain members of the haredi sector, this Friday I plan on marching for pride and tolerance with my kippah on and tzitzit out.

Posted by: amechad | Nov 6, 2006 6:47:02 PM

I like to remind the readers, as pointed out already, that this country does restrict "freedom" when it comes to Jewish religious practices. I am not allowed to mumble to myself a prayer on the Temple Mount, the holiest place for Jews. Why? Because my prayer will offend the Muslims. I don't see Meretz nor Mazuz sticking up for my right of freedom. The left is more than happy to protect anyone or anything against the Haredim even when they are a bunch of hypocrites.

Assaf

Posted by: Assaf | Nov 6, 2006 7:00:56 PM

I believe that there have been some reports of "unauthorized" violent protests that were held after the word was given to temporarily stop the protests, so perhaps there is a small "uncontrollable" element.

I find it astounding that an organization can purport to be so strict about kashrut while simultaneously maintaining laughably lax standards about making a chillul hashem.

I'm not sure which of the following is most aggravating: the fact that the parade will not go through certain non-Jewish neighborhoods out of sensitivity to the beliefs of the residents, but will proceed through Jewish neighborhoods, most certainly with the knowledge that the residents will be offended, orthe fact that those who wish to protest peacefully will be unable to do so if they do not wish to risk their lives.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Nov 6, 2006 7:12:23 PM

This isn't exactly a new thing in Jewish history. So many rabbis we regard as giants were involved in political controversies and have used wonderful tools like Cherem, excommunication, to silence their opponents. Even book burnings. By people whose names we equate with mainstream Jewish scholarship.
Saadiah Gaon, Yaakov Emden; it's a long list. It is only our modern enlightened sensitivities that cause us to be outraged.

Posted by: Jersey Boy | Nov 6, 2006 7:55:03 PM

Previewing your Comment
... it's also instructive to see what you have omitted from your description:

This entire episode takes place against the sorry history of selective, agenda-driven meddling by Israel's supreme court, which culminated last year in the wholesale silencing of dissent about the Gaza expulsion - exactly the sort of political speech that Western rights of speech and assembly are meant to protect. To silence that political speech, this court yawned and looked the other was as rally and parade permits were cancelled, and Israeli citizens were incarcerated on the flimsiest of reasons.

In contrast, the gay pride parade is hardly protected speech:

- the organizers and the majority of the marchers are not even Israeli citizens.

- there is currently no debate over the existing, very gay-friendly laws of the land.

Every community can set limits on free speech. Every community has decency statutes.

The duly elected Jerusalem government reached its decision on this issue - and the Supreme Court once again distorted that democratic process to impose the secular elite's agenda.

That is the context of these protests - it has very little to do with "the very presence of objectionable people" - although it sounds very grand and liberal to cast things in that light.

These protests are just the straw that has broken the camel's back.

Nor are all the protesters haredi, nor are they all following orders of rabbeim. There are many other voices opposed to the way in which the Jerusalem municipality's decision was overturned - and they are likely to join the massive, more peaceful protests if the parade goes through.

This is the only option left to the vast majority of Israelis who no longer wish to suffer the Court's selective application of basic rights, and its agenda-driven usurping of decisions that should be made by other branches of government.

Posted by: Ben-David | Nov 6, 2006 8:08:34 PM

Everytime the haredi community commits a chilul hashem it makes it harder for non-observant Jews to come back into the fold. Who would want to become more observant when the only observant Jews they see on TV or read about in the newspapers are violently protesting a parade in our holiest city? And if someone is newly observant, imagine how much harder their family relations might be if their family points to this gay pride parade nonsense and says "you want to be one of those?"

Also, when I was growing up I went to a Jewish day school and when we went on field trips, we were told that we had to be on our best behavior, because some people might form their opinion about the entire Jewish people based on just one interaction with a Jew. When you're a small minority and the world's favorite scapegoat, you can't afford to rest back and think that the enormous amount of good you do will be remembered before the occasional bad act will be remembered. These haredim are forging an impression of Jews for all of us, not just for themselves. They're tarnishing all of our reputations and creating fodder for our enemies.

Posted by: Fern | Nov 6, 2006 8:29:06 PM

I think you have a disproportionate sense of the rabbis' power. It is far from limitless, and the rabbis themselves know it. They exercise it very carefully so as not to be perceived as powerless or not in control.
Kashrus -- easy to control, so they do so with an iron fist.
Young hoodlums with nothing to do -- difficult to control, so attempting to would be harmful.

Posted by: Dave | Nov 6, 2006 9:19:09 PM

Ben-David,

You are plain wrong about the organizers of the Pride parade, wrong about the non-charedi majority of the people protesting, and wrong about many other things, but this isn't my blog so I won't pull your argument to pieces beyond saying that you are most wrong for using this incident as a springboard to rant against the Israeli Supreme Court.

Posted by: PP | Nov 6, 2006 9:33:02 PM

David usually I agree with you, but here, my religious sensibilities take presidence over my humanist ideas. This parade is not about creating an equal society, or making people aware of anything other than the fact that certain people feel the need to parade what they do in their bedrooms, for the public to see. Not only that but the choice of location seems to be chosen davka ( sorry can't think of proper english word) to spit in the face of religion and/or G-D. I really don't have an issue here with a little Pinchas style justice. Just becuase nobody is perfect doesn't mean that nobody has the right to say that certain things are going too far. I don't feel that it is my place to judge what people do in their own homes, but I fail to see what good this parade will acomplish, even without the violece or counterprotests, there is nothing gained for the gay cause by parading in Yerushalayim other than mocking the sensitivities of others. If they really want inclusion and equality, maybe not stomping on everyone elses sensitivities would go a long way toward bridging the gaps and allowing for some dialogue. Or maybe the orginizers of this event have no problem being hippocrites, and want to expand the rift between the religious and gay communities.

Posted by: Max Power | Nov 6, 2006 9:46:03 PM

[sigh]

To speak of "The Charedim" as if they are one unified body with a common mindset and a scheming leadership is roughly the equivalent of speaking about "The Jews" as if they are one unified body with a common mindset and a scheming leadership.

There is so much to say here but I barely know where to begin and I'm not sure there's any point in saying anything at all...


This post was obviously written when you were very angry. The tone and content are very much out of character. Don't you usually sleep on an inflammatory post before putting it up for all the world to see? Aren't you against the use of generalizations that aren't backed up by hard data?

Am I the only one who feels disappointed with this post (and the vast majority of the comments)?

Posted by: wogo | Nov 6, 2006 9:50:55 PM

Although having a gay pride march in Jerusalem is clearly provocative, and I really don't think it helps anyone's agenda, the behavior exhibited by the Orthodox world in response is inexcusable. As an Orthodox Jew, I am embarrassed by it.

Posted by: mcaryeh | Nov 6, 2006 9:53:23 PM

It has been instructive to note that many haredim feel that making open threats of violence (and even death) against fellow Jews is permissible when faced with the simple presence of a person/people considered to be objectionable.

Way to skewer the issue.

a) I've lived here in Jerusalem for a number of years and I've yet to hear the haredim threaten anyone with murder, as you, and not only you, are implying. Nor have I ever heard of orthodox Jews physically punishing or murdering secular Jews on religious grounds. Please dispel my ignorance if such events did occur in the common era.

b)The gay parade is not a "simple presence of a person/people considered to be objectionable." It is a purposely provocative demonstration, the aim of which is to promote the status of gays in Israel.

So what would lead you to make such distortions?

I believe in my heart that there is a special punishment awaiting so-called Rabbis who abuse their authority, lead their followers astray and shame the Jewish people before the world.

So here's what's got you so upset.

"Shame before the world." You feel that this issue, the way that it's perceived from the outside, is causing or has a potential to cause a lot of venom to be directed against religious Jews from all sort of different quarters in Israel and abroad. So in lieu of manifesting some sort of independent position and risking yourself catching some of that spleen you duck into the anti-haredi crowd and eagerly parrot all their distortions, with a few miserable flourishes of your own.

But it seems to me that the haredim have very little to do with the fact that you're ashamed "before the world," and that it is this shame that leads you to make such outbursts of sycophantic debility with a stink of genuine anti-Semitism.

Posted by: ashoichet | Nov 6, 2006 9:56:32 PM

and that it is this shame that leads you to make such outbursts of sycophantic debility with a stink of genuine anti-Semitism.

Is it just me or is that authentic frontier gibberish. Talk about incoherent, what are you saying?

Posted by: Jack | Nov 6, 2006 10:17:30 PM

I'm still not sure what the purpose of holding it in Jerusalem is. Are they holding it in the Vatican next year?

Although I do agree that the greater desanctification is by those who burn garbage bins and threaten violence in Jerusalem.

Posted by: Seth | Nov 6, 2006 10:29:53 PM

Let me begin by saying that two wrongs do NOT make a right. As in, although I'm strongly opposed to the gay parade, I do consider use of violence wrong.

Having said that, I think that I am concerned with another issue you did not explicitly discuss in the post, but which is very much related. The issue is that the charedim (as well as the numerous others who are involved in protests) are clearly taking their grievance to the wrong place. They are not going to accomplish anything either by standing peacefully with signs or by throwing rocks at the parade, except maybe getting arrested. In fact, it sounds like there is not much that can be done period. As someone mentioned in a previous comment, that parade was approved despite the overwhelming opposition, not just from Jews but from Christians and Muslims residing in the city as well. Why? Was it because protecting the civil rights of a minority group of people takes precedence over personal feelings? Honestly, I don't think that's the reason. And I do have my own thoughts about what the reasons actually are... but I don't want to digress from the subject of the post even more. In short, I don't think there is an option of accomplishing the ban of the protest by peaceful means. I think that feeling of impossibility is what actually drives people to the street more than the influence of rabbis. I am not excusing the violence at all; I just think the reason is in that perception (and possibly reality). I also think the actual violence is also not just about the opposition to the gay parade itself as in trying to drive a point to the government, which the protesters probably feel doesn't act in a democratic and decent way in this particular instance, as well as others. I think you're right in that there are numerous other commandments broken in Jerusalem all the time, many quite blatantly... which I am sure are equally vexing to many charedim, but there's a question of government involvement in the approval of the parade.

Posted by: Irina | Nov 6, 2006 10:31:35 PM

ok, after reading through a few Jpost articles on the subject, and then reading your post again, I feel the need to ammend my last comment. It seems from some of the articles that the Chief Rabbinate (also comprised of Charedim) while calling for protests, also instructed very clearly that they should not be violent in nature. Also, "The ultra-Orthodox Eda Haredit leadership said Sunday night that although it opposed violent demonstrations against Friday's planned Gay Pride march, it could do nothing to stop them. Rabbi Moshe Sternbach, head of the Eda Haredit Rabbinic Court, said he had specifically ordered his followers not to use violence. " I believe this, because many of the decress of the rabbis today go unheeded.
I take no issue with the concept of protesting the pride parade. I can even hear the argument that it is a religious duty. That seems a reasonable and measured response to me. The actual response of some charedim is what I find embarrassing - the pulsa d'nura and the tire burnings, the physical destruction and harm caused through the protesting, etc. I would take no issue with a peaceful protest.

I think your post somewhat mischaracterizes the situation. That said, I don't think those who are aghast at your post are reading carefully. You seemed to be careful to say "many" charedim instead of all. Emotions are coming to the fore on all sides of this issue, I guess.

Posted by: mcaryeh | Nov 6, 2006 10:39:44 PM

"I'm still not sure what the purpose of holding it in Jerusalem is. Are they holding it in the Vatican next year?"

"They" are holding it in Jerusalem because the marchers and their organizations are made up of Jerusalemites.

Posted by: Alan | Nov 6, 2006 11:38:14 PM

David, you are so right about the bad behavior of some Haredim.

But that doesn't mean that the decision to hold this parade (actually, a weeklong festival extolling homosexuality) is right.

The mission of the Jerusalem Open House:

"he Jerusalem Open House (JOH) is a grassroots, activist organization of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered people, and allies. Since 1997, we have worked to make our city a place where all people are free to seek self-fulfillment. Our greatest challenge is a tradition of conformist heterosexism that continues to be enforced by almost all social institutions in Israel, including the family, the school, the state, and the religious establishment. This challenge is especially formidable in Jerusalem, a city of traditional values and deeply rooted religious commitments."

What do you think about that?

Finally, there is no automatic right to demonstrate. Any municipality in the US can restrict this. During the Republican convention, NYC May or Michael Bloomberg denied a permit to demonstrators to use Central Park. Is the US a democracy? (No bad jokes, please.)

LINK:http://www.worldpride.net/?id=278

Posted by: Jay | Nov 7, 2006 4:02:00 AM

Speechless! Maybe it should be known as the Naughty Land instead of the Holy Land! All in all I believe that the true sanctity of Jerusalem is kept by a few good men (Religious), who obviously denounce any form of violence but who believe in protecting and observing what generations have endeavored to keep.

Posted by: Rami | Nov 7, 2006 8:49:24 AM

B'kitzur, it seems that the point of this post can be distilled to: "Why does THIS issue warrant such a vitrolic response? And, why do the 'ends justify the means' here and not elsewhere?"

There is no place in this post which defends the marchers nor implies they have a right to march. Rather, this post asks pointed questions about how to confront controversial issues without acting in a way which creates a chilul Hashem.

ashoichet: if one is prohibited from wearing a kippah into a non-kosher restaurant -- even when the purpose of entering is only to use the restroom -- to prevent morit ayin (the MERE appearance of impropriety), maileh!, how much more inappropriate is it to PUBLICLY USE THE TACTICS OF OUR ENEMIES TO "SOLVE" A PROBLEM?!

People who assume the role of "obvervance" in Judaism accept a role which demands balance: the balance of individual and communal responsibilities; the balance of intra-communal and inter-communal responsibilities.

Hilchut Dayot remind us that there are certain qualities forbidden to possess and/or act on -- anger and arrogance. The presence of either anger or arrogance, we are told, simply negates the ability to reach our ideal state.

Violent riots do not reflect an "appropriate" response. Rather, they place in danger scores of police, border patrol and average citizens who reamain in the area. They are no more than temper tantrums taken to dangerously volitile levels.

Posted by: zahava | Nov 7, 2006 9:15:02 AM

On the one hand this is a terrible Chilul Hashem. On the other, Gush Katif prooves you cant just go on the boxcars without a fight. Do Not Go Gently into the Good Night.

Posted by: semgirl | Nov 7, 2006 9:58:41 AM

Jack... I'm not surprised that you didn't feel the need to hold yourself back. :-) While you and I see our coreligionists acting like jack-asses, the rest of the world sees only Jews. This is part of what is troubling me.

Amechad... while I applaud your constructive response to destructive behavior, this post really wasn't about the merits of either side's case. It was only about the actions.

Assaf... Aside from the squeaky wheel getting the grease (meaning the most violent people getting their way), there is admittedly a trend in this country for the entrenched liberal elite to champion only the rights which dovetail with their agenda. This is tragic. I was raised to believe that liberal meant being a civil libertarian regardless of whose rights were being trampled.

tnspr569... You seem to have switched gears on me mid comment. Can you clarify for me?

Jersey Boy... We can't change the past, but I refuse to believe that we can't change the future.

Ben-David... Once again you (and others) have taken a very finite point I've made and used it as a jumping-off place for all the things that bother you. Obviously one can't look at everything in a vacuum. But when discussing the behavior of a group that purports to be the 'gold standard' in Jewish values and observance, I think I have a right to put them under the magnifying glass without having my post hijacked.

Fern... Very good points. I am conflicted about holding the haredi world to a higher standard... but they have essentially claimed the high ground for themselves so they have to bear the responsibility when their actions bring discredit and shame on the Jews.

Dave... Here in Israel... and particularly in the haredi world... the Rabbis wield an enormous amount of power and often do so quite arrogantly. Part of that must be born as the price of living in a Jewish country... but when they cross the line and exhort their followers to violence it's time to call a spade a spade.

Max Power... I'm not going to debate the right and wrong of a gay pride parade. I've actually written a post int he past which deals with my views on the subject quite thoroughly. This is not that post. What I wrote here is about the use of violence (or at least the threat of violence) to subvert a democracy. There are ways to apply for a permit to march and there are ways to protest. in this case the organizers followed the rules and the protesters did not. If you don't see this then perhaps you are too close to the issues. Try substituting any other two groups and then see if you still feel the haredim are acting lawfully... not to mention within the bounds of the religion they purport to represent.

Wogo... reading selectively is a dangerous thing. I was quite careful to write "many haredim". However my point about the irresponsible use of authority by the Rabbinic leadership in the haredi world were meant to be a blanket condemnation.

mcaryeh... As I've said before, this wasn't meant to be a pro-gay post. It was an anti-violence and anti-hillul hashem post.

ashoichet... I am not going to debate you point by point because you have deliberately ignored the point of my post. Also Zahava has said much of what I would have answered had I gotten around to it sooner. However, I will say that avoiding scandal before the world was important enough to warrant a prohibition against the airing of 'Jewish dirty laundry' in the civil courts (before first going to beit din), I can't help thinking that avoiding scandalous behavior such as we are seeing on the nightly news would be considered by him to be a bad thing.

Jack... Not helpful. :-)

Seth... Once again, let me state that this post was not about the merits of the parade or its location in Jerusalem. it is about the responsibility of Israelis and Jews to act within the law and within halachah.

Irina... So let them try to burn the Knesset or Jerusalem city hall. Attacking the police is not the answer.

mcaryeh... saying that they "opposed violent demonstrations against Friday's planned Gay Pride march, it could do nothing to stop them" is a little disingenuous. the first part of the statement implies that the protesters need the rabbinic OK to take to the streets... but the second half implies that the rabbis have no authority of the mob. something doesn't add up there. I'm glad, however, to see that someone caught the 'many' distinction.

Alan... I'm not convinced of that, but again, this is outside the scope of what I was trying to say.

Jay... Once again... put away the ax and grinder and reread what I wrote. I am addressing the behavior of a group. Aside from a direct physical attack there is no excuse for what they are doing in the name of Judaism.

Rami... Why is this one issue so pressing that it requires a violent response? Do these people know the mind and intention of G-d? Why are they not violently protesting people who mix wool and linen in their garments???

Zahava... You go girl. :-)

Semgirl... Nothing can be gained from a Nazi reference in this discussion. Nobody is coming to take the haredim away in boxcars. The parade route is not going through mea shearim or geulah. What is it about this issue that has given a lot of haredim the idea that they can come out of their self-imposed ghettos and violently impose their values on the rest of the city? Have you ever been in Kikar Zion on a Saturday night? There is far worse stuff going on there every week than will be present at any gay pride parade. Why aren't the haredim marching on kikar zion?

Posted by: treppenwitz | Nov 7, 2006 10:25:15 AM

great blog...the thought of people being hurt or more simply because they are gay scares me to death...it takes guts to stand up and be counted...no guts to throw a rock...all pigs are equal but some pigs are more equal than others? either everyone has the right to march or no one does...you don't like it? stay home...bravo amechad...stay safe everyone...jerusalem has seen a hell of a lot worse than a gay parade...trust me, i was there

Posted by: marallyn | Nov 7, 2006 11:17:45 AM

Trep, some issues you just have to let go of, you might not be a judge :-), I see a photo of an Ethiopian Jew holding a placard reading I am a proud Israeli and wonder if Judaism can be quantified?? that maybe some Jews never get the true ‘feel’ of who they really are and yet when I see another photo of a burning blockade lit in protest, I wonder if some Jews have had too much of this ‘feel’.

Posted by: Rami | Nov 7, 2006 11:40:42 AM

requirement under Jewish Law to obey the laws of the land is transgressed here in the Holy land

Actually according to halacha 'dina d'malchuta dina' is only applicable to governments outside of Eretz Yisrael!

Posted by: JoeSettler | Nov 7, 2006 12:58:13 PM

Re: "reading selectively is a dangerous thing. I was quite careful to write 'many haredim'..."

It wasn't selective reading as much as reading between the lines. You yourself admit to an anti-Charedi bias -- and my point still holds: If a non-jew would talk about "many Jews" the way you talk about "many Charedim" it would still sound kind-of like anti-semitism. And if someone who admitted to having anti-Semitic leanings would talk that way, well, there would be no doubt...

And besides, you still wrote the post in anger. You still made broad and unfair generalizations (do you have statistical evidence backing up your allegations re. "the laws of the land"? Are you versed in the intricacies of the Halachot that deal with "the law of the land"? Are you aware of the different opinions about how and when the halacha is applied?).

You still brought in unrelated "hot-button" issues that are both far more complicated than the average person understands, and far less common than one might think (How many divorced couples do you know? How many agunot do you know? How many *men* do you know who are being taken to the cleaners by their ex-wives? Do you also have hard data on any of this?)

And you still -- even now -- admit to a blanket condemnation of the Charedi Rabbinic leadership. Do you have any names of mainstream Charedi Rabbis who are promoting violence -- or even implying violence?

I'm not suggesting that everything is fine and good in the Charedi world. I'm not trying to defend the actions and words of the *few* troublemakers who claim to represent the Charedi viewpoint. I guess I'm just saddened by the obvious lack of civility being displayed here... I expected more from you.

Posted by: wogo | Nov 7, 2006 1:22:33 PM

Sorry, Mr. B; perhaps I should have posted two separate comments. It was just what came to mind when thinking about the issue. Hypocrisy aggravates me tremendously. I place a high value on authenticity, and this trait is sorely lacking in some of the members of the previously mentioned group. Such gratuitous violence is simply inexcusable. I cannot fathom how people can be so offended by a certain issue/event that they could excuse placing other Jews in harm's way and making a chillul Hashem.

As far as the latter half of my comment, I was attempting to evince my belief that however deplorable the rioting may be, it is still wrong to knowingly offend people in such a manner. Asking for a fight is always a stupid move; hiding behind the guise of tolerance and equality just smacks of hypocrisy.

Perhaps I was simply attempting to highlight the fact that the actions of both groups smack of hypocrisy, and both groups are to be called out on this occasion.

Did that make any more sense?

Posted by: tnspr569 | Nov 7, 2006 2:54:18 PM

marallyn... Thanks, I appreciate it. Oh, and well said.

Rami... It sounds like the word you are looking for is 'entitlement'... and yes, many have too large sense of entitlement while others are sorely lacking.

Joesettler... That would explain a lot of bad behavior. But to quote Jack Nicholson from 'A Few Good Men' "I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it." Basically how dare these rioters live comfortably under the protection of the state, its army and police (not to mention receiving government checks to sit and learn) and then not only disregard the laws of that state, but physically attack the state's authorized representatives???

Wogo... Please. I say enough boneheaded things without the need to read between the lines. Please confine your observations to what I've written. Are you seriously defending the rioters? Are you really implying that the religious leaders of the Haredi community have done everything in their power to stop the violence? As to my mention of the agunah issue, that was quite deliberate as it was these same haredi leaders who pressured Rabbi Amar to cancel (at the last moment) a conference on agunot that had been three years in the planning. I didn't mix issues... the issues just fell out together.

tnspr569... The second half of your comment still sounds a lot like back-tracking and equivocating. There are levels of wrong and right, and this reaction is out of all proportion to the offense.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Nov 7, 2006 3:53:58 PM

OK. I am now confining my comments to what you've written:

If your post was written by a non-Jew (say a politician or academic) and the word "Jew" was substituted for "Charedi", they would be construed as anti-Semitic and the Jewish community would (rightfully) ask for an apology.

If you re-read my comments, you will see that I do not say anything about how right or wrong the Charedi community or leadership is in this issue. I just suggested that you try to stick to the standards (high as they may be) that you yourself have set for the tone of the conversations on Treppenwitz.

If you truly feel that this post was written with a cool head and backed up with hard data... well, then I'm sorry I misread it.

Posted by: wogo | Nov 7, 2006 5:15:22 PM

It's a very dangerous road to go down when you say it's ok to act like an animal if you think your cause is correct. We really need to remember who we are and why we deserve to be called "the chosen."

Posted by: psychotoddler | Nov 7, 2006 5:49:44 PM

Ashoichet asked: " I've lived here in Jerusalem for a number of years and I've yet to hear the haredim threaten anyone with murder, as you, and not only you, are implying." I made aliyah on June 20 this year. I started ulpan a couple of weeks later. Outside my ulpan I watched a young chareidi guy spray graffiti on a cement post calling for the murder of homosexuals--he first sprayed in Hebrew which I didn't understand, then in bad English. By the time I finally understood what he'd written and looked around to ID him for the cops, he'd already split. I'm not implying anything--I saw it with my own two eyes.

Posted by: aliyah06 | Nov 7, 2006 7:34:03 PM

Certainly the parade is also a provocation. But it always needs two for a provocation to work. People who seek for insight or enlightenment and cannot cope with provocations are in my opinion a contradiction in themselves. Who am I to judge other people as long as they respect my freedom?
I don't like these parades because they are too loud. That's all.

Fern wrote: because some people might form their opinion about the entire Jewish people based on just one interaction with a Jew.

I think opinions about Jews are formed long before the first actual meeting with a Jew by school, media, and the family. After the first real meeting with a person from whatever 'foreign' group you often find out that actually they are not that bad, only a bit strange here and there.
Unfortunately the media love clichés. Mr. Bogner for example cannot be a settler: he doesn't wear a large hat and a long beard. ;)

Alan wrote: Are they holding it in the Vatican next year?

I don't think so. A central wish in Christian prayers is not to be tempted. In a country were men are forbidden to marry women... How can I put it decently...

Posted by: Chris | Nov 7, 2006 9:21:46 PM

Oops. Didn't intend to come off like that. Oh well.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Nov 7, 2006 11:00:21 PM

Regarding your comment above, while it is true that they would not be rioting without the go-ahead from rabbinic leaders, I also genuinely believe it is true that they are much more likely to listen to something they are told to do than something they are told not to do, which is why the rabbinic bans on smoking and the internet, to cite two examples, though often bandied about, have not exactly taken on widespread adherence, and so I can see where it would be the case that though the rabbis encouraged or advocated protesting, they were unable to curb the extent of the protest. I grant you that I may be naive here, though...but I would like to think they speak the truth...

Posted by: mcaryeh | Nov 8, 2006 8:12:21 AM

Treppenwitz wrote:
how dare these rioters live comfortably under the protection of the state, its army and police (not to mention receiving government checks to sit and learn) and then not only disregard the laws of that state, but physically attack the state's authorized representatives???
- - - - - - - - - - -

uh.... authorized by whom, exactly?

Our Story So Far:

1. Israel's Supreme Court expands to fill the voids and cracks in Israel's not-yet-constitutional democracy, annexing more and more powers that should belong to other branches of government without being accountable to any elected representatives.

This includes attempts to usurp the power of the Chief Rabbinate in religious matters, and to kill off the religious court system.

2. The court consistently uses this power to advance a secular agenda embraced by a narrow elite. Its primary tool is selective, agenda-driven application of basic civil rights of speech and assembly. Those disagreeing with the agenda are regularly denied basic freedoms of speech and assembly. The media abets this process by delegitimizing these dissenting opinions, and the people who hold them.

Two examples of this "freedom for me, but not for thee" policy will suffice - one old, one shockingly recent:

- although Abie Nathan's Voice of Peace broadcast for years from a boat just beyond Israel's territorial waters - the government shut down the Arutz 7 station, even though it operated in the same way, confiscated the boat and radio equipment, and pursued legal action to intimidate the operators. With the full cooperation of the Supreme Court.

- Just this past year, the court connived with the Sharon government in shutting down any political speech or assembly by those opposed to the Gaza expulsion. The Supreme Court refused to even hear appeals almost identical to the gay marchers' appeal, when the Sharon government refused to grant permits for political rallies.

3. International gay rights activists apply for a parade permit with the Jerusalem city government - like dozens of other organizations seeking to march through this internationally symbolic city.

(NOTE - this is the *only* point in the story where duly elected representatives of the Israeli people are involved in the story - assuming that's what most of us mean by "the state's authorized representatives"... I'm just not sure what YOU mean by that phrase, David...)

4. Their appeal is rejected for various reasons, like dozens of other appeals. In this case:

- there is no current challenge to the very comfortable legal status of gays in Israel, so it's not really political speech.

- there are valid concerns that the march will run afoul of residents' sense of decency - a common yardstick used around the world to limit public speech and assembly.

- the majority of marchers are foreigners, who don't really have the "right" to pursue such controversial speech in a country not their own.

5. The gay sponsors of the march shop around for a club with which to beat the Jerusalem city council into submission. That is, a way to beat "the system" - which in this case means the democratic process of city governance, and "the state's authorized representatives".

6. They find their club in the Supreme Court.

The court which refused to hear the appeals of Israeli citizens last year - in an unassailable case of political speech by Israeli citizens - suddenly springs into action to overturn the "state's authorized representatives" and let foreigners shake their collective bootys in the face of Jerusalem's residents.

The court, the media, and the gay activists all roll their eyes and act like they are upholding Great Human Freedoms against barbarians - when in fact they have proven their partiality and selectiveness in defending those freedoms, and are in this case imposing their agenda on the majority which disagrees with them.

And undercutting "the state's authorized representatives" elected by that majority.

7. Jerusalem residents - who have seen this whole story, and lived through the previous struggles over politically-motivated rulings by the court - take to the streets.

Because that's the only avenue of expression left to them under this oppressive, increasingly banana-republic regime.

Despite the self-congratulatory mantle of virtue that the court and the gay activists have wrapped about themselves - it is the rioters who are really "speaking truth to power".

8. Useful idiots latch onto the last part of the story, ignoring the inconvenient bits that disrupt their PC assumptions.

They engage in contextless handwringing over haredi violence - perhaps because they also want to cloak themselves in PC self-righteousness, and/or they may have their own hangups about the haredim.

They confuse the Supreme Court with "the state's authorized representatives" - swallowing hook, line, and sinker the inversion of reality that lets the left undercut what little representative democracy we have here in Israel, and lets the court accrue more unwarranted power.

In the case of this blog - they do this despite recent events in which their own political camp was gored, marginalized, and silenced by this very dog-and-pony show of Supreme Court in cahoots with liberal media.

They seem to have completely forgotten what they themselves wrote a few short months ago.

Incredible!

Posted by: Ben-David | Nov 9, 2006 1:12:13 AM

Ben-David:

"- the majority of marchers are foreigners, who don't really have the "right" to pursue such controversial speech in a country not their own"

Again.

I don't know where you've got this myth from, or why you feel the need to hang onto it, but you can't keep pushing a falsehood to prop up your argument.

Posted by: PP | Nov 9, 2006 4:21:40 PM

Yes they could find a better way to protest the parade and protect Jerusalem, but at least they're trying

Posted by: Malka | Nov 9, 2006 9:25:21 PM

PP - the parade has been consistently promoted as part of weeklong "WorldPride" uh, observances - and is specifically linked to a similar parade in Rome that also drew international representation.

To quote one of the sources I've listed below:

The parade was supposed to be part of an international WorldPride gathering held in Jerusalem this summer, but it was cancelled because of the war in Lebanon.
- - - - - - - - - -
And here's a quote from earlier this year - from a GLBT website:

Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski has denied reports that he is working behind the scenes to prevent a major international gay pride parade from taking place in the capital this summer...

Jerusalem held its first annual local gay parade only three years ago. The event, which draws several thousand participants, has been the source of repeated debate each year...

The last international gay parade, which took place in Rome in 2000, attracted about half a million participants, with organizers expecting tens of thousands of revelers for the Jerusalem event this summer.
- - - - - - - - - - -
So this parade was definitely supposed to up the ante - bringing in tens of thousands of foreigners.


Links:

http://www.gaywired.com/article.cfm?section=9&id=10020

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1161811236679

http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewForeignBureaus.asp?Page=/ForeignBureaus/archive/200610/INT20061031b.html

http://www.glbtjews.org/article.php3?id_article=130

Posted by: Ben-David | Nov 10, 2006 12:02:12 AM

semgirl:

"Gush Katif prooves you cant just go on the boxcars without a fight. Do Not Go Gently into the Good Night."

this horrible analogy applies neither to gush katif nor to the gay parade. i hope this is not what you learned in seminary.

Posted by: ari kinsberg | Nov 10, 2006 7:11:46 AM

I can't believe what I'm reading. Worried about world opinion regarding Charedi rioters? Because. . . the world thinks so highly of Israel now and the brave Charedi defense of the Torah might diminish that? YOU ARE A HYPROCRITE IF YOU CLAIM TO BE A RELIGIOUS JEW AND THINK THE GAY PRIDE PARADE IS MERELY AN EXPRESSION OF FREE SPEECH. IS IT JUST A COINCIDENCE THAT THIS WEEK'S TORAH PORTION (VAYEIRAH) DEALS WITH THE DESTRUCTION OF SEDOM AND GEMORAH? G-d bless the Charedim in the streets for taking a stand and saying no - their actions in defense of the Torah will save the Jewish people. How dare an activist Supreme Court upsurp the will of the people, who peacefully signed their petitions and implored their elected officials to act on their behalf. And how dare you be outraged by the rioting, and not the upsurping of democracy. It's just so typical that the Charedi are slammed for their beliefs, denied their voice by the courts, and excluded from state sponsorship. Shame on YOU and the rest of us for not joining them!

Posted by: nrstark | Nov 10, 2006 8:41:59 AM

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