Virtual Talmud

Life takes precedence under Jewish law, and the gay-rights advocates cannot be faulted for bowing to security concerns and canceling the gay rights parade slated for Jerusalem this weekend. But the State of Israel did wrong in letting it come to this and not cracking down on the violence sooner.

This is not the first time Orthodox violence has effectively curbed diversity in Jerusalem. For years, women who wanted to pray together at the Western Wall, the Kotel, were submitted to attacks while the police did little to protect them. They were not doing anything so very radical. They were following Jewish law, at least according to liberal Orthodox rabbis.

The canceling of the parade is so sad because the threat of violence has again won out. I worry what this caving in will do in the long run. Will the haredi feel empowered and resort to more violence over the next demand? This is exactly how radical religious fundamentalists took control in other countries. I thought Israel was different, holding its radical fringe in check.

What a shanda–a shameful thing–that it should come to this in the Jewish State. Have we already forgotten that Jews and gays shared the same fate in Nazi gas chambers? You’d think we, of all people, would have learned the necessity of tolerance.

The Associate Press reported that Rabbi Yosef Elnikaveh, a prominent religious leader, said allowing the parade to proceed was surrendering to “mental illness.” The mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Hussein, the top Muslim cleric in the Palestinian territories, said being gay is a crime and demanded police punish those involved in the parade. Christian evangelical groups in Jerusalem have called the parade “provocative” and demanded the venue be changed. It is nice to hear that three major religious leaders agree on something. Too bad it is about promoting bias against others.

–Posted by Rabbi Susan Grossman

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