Tuesday, June 11, 2013

‘I Told You So’ Is the Wrong Attitude

Murder suspect Hagai Felician in custody - Source: Ynet
I have to say that the smugness by which some websites have trumpeted their ‘I told you so’ attitude about the erroneous assumptions in 2009 that a religious Jew committed a ‘hate crime’ - is unflattering to them.

Ynet, is a secular newspaper in Israel. Secular newspapers are often all lumped together and accused of going out of their way to bash religious Jews. And yet they have now exonerated us in a detailed account of who the murderer of two homosexuals was - and how he was caught. So much for anti Frum bias on the part of the secular media: From Ynet: 
Nir Katz, 26, and Liz Trubeshi, 16 were killed on the August 1, 2009 when a veiled man entered the Barnoar LGBT youth center in Tel Aviv and began shooting at the teens gathered there. Eleven others were injured. 
It was widely assumed that this was a hate crime fostered by religious intolerance towards homosexuals. Ha’artez at the time reported the reaction of many prominent people who believed this at the time. It should be noted that even Shas, who along with others condemned the shooting did not go out of its way to deny that this might have been a hate crime.

Now we know it was not a hate crime. It was a murder by Hagai Felician (with the aid of three accomplices – one of whom is an unidentified gay activist…) to avenge the sexual abuse of a 15 year old relative. Felician was caught because of the due diligence of the Tel Aviv police department.

First I want to applaud the police. They were relentless and got the job done. And no expense was spared in doing so: 
Thousands were investigated in connection with the shootings, millions of shekels were spent to no avail, until one of the four felt betrayed and spoke to police. 
I do not consider any of this to be a victory for religious world. That this was at the end of the day not a hate crime perpetrated by a misguided religious Jew does not absolve  us from the kind of gay bashing one often hears in our circles. This is not to say that all or even most religious Jews unequivocally hate all homosexuals. I certainly don’t. And I'm sure a great many religious Jews feel nothing but kindness and compassion for their plight in an unenlightened society – and treat them with the dignity that all God’s creations deserve.  One does not have to approve of homosexual behavior to do that.

But all too often one can hear the shrill voice of someone like Rabbi Yehuda Levin who has apparently made it his life’s work to bash homosexuals and blame all the world’s ills on them while admonishing our leaders for being lax on this issue: 
Tens of billions in losses, 50 dead, scientists say that Sandy is the worst N.Y. hurricane in 800 years!  Some insurance policies still call this kind of occurrence an ACT OF G-D. But where are our religio-conservative leaders to interpret what’s happening?
 Remember when Dr. Falwell and Dr. Pat Robertson attributed 9/11 to the homosexual agenda and abortion?  Guess our leaders have a huge problem doing that now.
It is not much of a leap to think that such incitement might lead a misguided zealot to perpetrate a hate crime. It was not the case here. And I hope it never happens. But to be cynical about even the possibility of a religious Jew committing a hate crime is putting one’s head in the sand. And it ignores the historical fact that a religious Jew actually did commit a hate crime.

Lest anyone forget a religious Jew by the name of Yigal Amir was moved to murder Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin no doubt because of similar incitement by radical Religious Zionists who had called Rabin a traitor or worse to the Jewish people because he signed the Oslo accords!

Instead of trumpeting our innocence in this gay murder as though it could never happen, I think we would be a lot wiser to make sure it never does by condemning the kind of hate rhetoric one hears from the likes of Rabbi Levin. We ought to change the paradigm of hating fellow Jews who happen to be homosexual into one of loving them as we should all people created in God’s image. And make sure that all hate speech be eradicated from our midst. The only thing that should be hated is the sin itself - or trying to publicly legitimize it.