Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gay Pride, Violence, and Learning from Mistakes

Once again I find myself at odds with Rav Elyashiv. This time it is over his call for protests against next Thursday’s scheduled Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem.

Here we go again. The annual Gay Pride Parade is scheduled to take place next Thursday, June 26th. And once again we will see violence initiated by Charedi Jews. Only this time it will be at the directive of a man they consider to be the Gadol HaDor.

That’s right. Rav Elyashiv is threatening violence in the hopes that police will try and avert it by canceling the parade. Nice tactic if it works. But, what if it doesn’t? Apparently this means there will be violence initiated at the suggestion of the acknowledged leader of Lithuanian Jewry ( i.e. the Yeshiva world) in Israel.

I understand the revulsion. I have the same feeling. I too am reviled and disgusted at the idea of proclaiming pride in - or worse - glorifying sinful behavior via the usual displays of exposed flesh and antics that accompany such parades. Especially when it takes place in the holy city of Jerusalem.

But as troubling as that is, it is far more troubling that a Chilul HaShem of major proportions will yet again occur in the holy city by Jews who are identified as the most religious among us. Is that not worse than ignoring the parade? What purpose will be served with violent protest? Let it pass. Don’t bring world attention to it. The world will not focus on the Toeva protest . They will focus on Charedi violence. Doesn’t Rav Elyashiv realize that?! - The Edah HaCharedis does!

That’s right. The Edah. They are the most Charedi of institutions in Israel. They have come to the same conclusion I have. This is an institution with which I have little in common. Last year they were in the forefront of promoting a protest. And, as predicted it erupted into violence which endangered peoples lives. Frum people. Elderly people.

The Edah has learned from its past mistake. If only they had read my many posts on the subject - warning of the consequences. I guess they had to see for themselves. People got hurt, property was damaged. And a big chilul HaShem resulted. They could have avoided it. Eizah Hu Chacham? HaRoeah es HaNolad - a wise man will anticipate the consequences of his actions.

I am not a Chacham but I saw it coming. Why didn’t they? But… at least now after having experienced what turned out to be a Chilul HaShem they have called for calm:

...askanim met with “inciters” to warn them to refrain from inflaming the atmosphere and not to provoke followers into violent protests or actions which are contrary to the decision of rabbonim.

...Eida leaders admit that the protests in recent years “got out of hand” and they were a chilul Hashem.

There will still be movement to stop the parade. The Edah will oppose it diplomatically - as did religious Kenesset members. From Ha’aretz:

Two weeks ago, religious Knesset members, among them Eli Gabbay (National Union-National Religious Party) and David Azoulay, demanded that police take the necessary measures to prevent the parade because it poses a danger to the public.

That is the right thing to do.

It’s too bad, however, that the Edah had to blame possible violence on American students with too much time in their hands. That makes me wonder if they really know what is going on in their own backyard and who is really responsible for violence there. What do they have against Americans?

I don’t think it was American students who were responsible for all the past Charedi violence in Meah Shearim, Bnei Brak, and Ramat Bet Shemesh. But at least they are trying to avoid it now - and for that I applaud them.

But this new approach makes me wonder about a protest earlier in the week by one of the leaders of the Edah, Rav Moshe Sternbuch. He actually encouraged more protest which led to violence. Don’t members of the Edah speak to each other?