Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Warped Religious Values, Terror, and Prevention

Some of the 49 victims massacred by Omar Mateen
Birds of a feather. Even though they are of different religions, Yishai Shlissel and Omar Mateen have much in common. What’s that you say? One is a devout member of Orthodox Judaism and the other is a devout Muslim?  To say that a Frum Jew has anything in common with a Muslim terrorist that pledged allegiance to ISIS is at the very least disgusting if not outright antisemitism.

Well, I beg to differ. Both of these people were probably mentally unbalanced. But they were each no less devout in their belief that homosexuality is an abomination worthy of the death penalty. After all both Judaism and Islam treats homosexual sex as a capital offence. And it is their religious beliefs that seemed to be the motivating factors behind their murders. They both killed innocent people believing they were acting on behalf of God.  

One might be tempted to say, that Shlissel killed only one person (having stabbed 6) in a momentary act of insanity while Mateen killed 49 in a planned and deliberate attack. And that I should have a sense of proportion here. But I would disagree. It’s like the old joke about someone only being a little bit pregnant. Murder is murder. I see little difference between the two. It’s very possible that if Yishai had the means – he may have done at the Gay Pride parade last year what Omar did in Orlando Sunday morning.

This is what happens when you hate not only the sin, but the sinner. True, most rational people would not act on their feelings that way these two did. Unbalanced minds do unbalanced things. That does not however detract from their motivation. Both of which is a revulsion towards homosexuals that at least in the case in the case of Yishai Shlissel is sourced on a gross distortion of Halacha.

In both cases, they have achieved the opposite of their intent. Instead of evoking a sense of biblical (or Koran) justice they evoked a sense of sympathy for the gay community among all people of good will.

Including those of us in Orthodox Judaism. This is not to say that we have changed our beliefs, which are based on the Torah. What it says is that innocent people were murdered because belief systems can be distorted and lead to such actions. This is what motivates ISIS and other Islamic terrorists. And it is what motivated a revenge killing last year of an innocent Arab boy who was burned alive by yet another deranged Orthodox Jew. You cannot blame insanity alone. You must blame those among us that foment hatred and quote scripture to justify it. When they speak about homosexuality, they condemn the sin and the sinner and show revulsion towards both.

Those who take umbrage at my bringing up Shlissel on this day of terror instead of focusing on Islamic terrorism, should think about what I said and see if it doesn’t have merit.  Rabbinic figures that have harangued us to hate the sinner along with the sin need to learn from their mistakes and change course. They need to learn to treat gay people with the dignity all of mankind deserves – being created in the image of God. As I’ve often said (as recently as last Friday) judging people based on what you suspect they may do in their bedrooms is not our domain. I can’t speak for Muslims. But I think I can speak for Orthodox Jews.

I am going to change course here and ask, what can be done to prevent such things from happening again? How do we combat Islamist terror?  What can we do to prevent the next Jihadist from being inspired by the ISIS version of Muslim ideology?

I don’t know the answer to that. But it is instructive to see how the 2 presidential candidates responded. Trump expressed anger and indignity saying that he refuses to be politically correct. Clinton said all the politically correct things along the lines of ‘what happened in Orlando is not Islam.  

To me this signals that the Clinton administration will continue to pursue a policy of political correctness that in my view is proving to be harmful. It is this kind of thinking that for example causes the TSA to treat an elderly Jewish grandmother with the same kind of scrutiny that they would treat an individual Muslim from Syria.

That is a precious waste of human resources and time. It may not have prevented Mateen’s mass murdering people in Orlando. He was born in the United States. But it would surely help in preventing terror in the air.

Israel knows this. It is because of their far better security apparatus which includes a heavy dose of profiling that has prevented thus far Israel’s national airline, El Al, from ever being high-jacked. And if these Jihadists have one target they would love to take down more than any other - it would be El Al.

This is not to say that all Muslims are terrorists with an ISIS ideology. Far from it. I am convinced the vast majority of Muslims all over the world would never do anything like what happened in Orlando. They would and have condemned it in the strongest possible terms. But that does not mean that there aren’t significant numbers that use an ISIS version of Islam to commit these heinous acts.

As much as Trump’s anger and rhetoric is all bluster and hot air - It will surely give him a bump in the next poll (Although I don’t think it will last.) I wish that Clinton would have displayed a bit of that anger instead of the politically correct response she gave. Because that might have signaled a change in the way America will secure its people if and when she takes office. Which will hopefully be more along the lines Israel does it.