Guest Post on Gay Pride Parade Attack in Jerusalem
The following is commentary on the Gay Pride attack that took place in Jerusalem last week. It was written by my friend, Peter Wyetzner. While I happen to diametrically oppose the views expressed below, I believe it’s imperative of every open-minded individual to have the capacity to listen to others whom they may not agree with, but who don’t cross any red lines.
Knowing that Eitan and some of his followers have defined gay people as immoral, perverted, and dangerous, I thought he or the bloggers he links to might have some reaction to the events of last week and this in Jerusalem. Since that hasn’t happened, I would like to contribute something of my own. I don’t have any ties with the organized gay community, but when I heard what had happened at last Thursday’s march, and that there was going to be a demonstration of support in Kikar Zion on Saturday night, I felt I had to go. There were many speakers, but the general message was that gay people have the same right as anyone else to feel safe wherever they happen to live, and that even someone who would never commit an act like this bears some responsibility for it if he does not try to educate and correct people who attack or make fun of others because they see them as different (this point was emphasized by Rav Benny Lau, who contrasted such people with the ones in Deuteronomy who were able to claim that they had nothing to do with the murder of a stranger found outside their city).
There was, I think, an assumption among the speakers that being Jewish means having an ethical responsibility towards others; but were they right? Personally, I think we all have to decide for ourselves what’s important, and that includes deciding whether trying to be a good Jew also means trying to be a good person. Maybe you are one of those people who really don’t see a connection between the two, or don’t feel that you have to ask ourselves whether you’re doing the right thing as you go through life; but if you’re not, then please try not to fool yourself into believing that you can be a good person and still tolerate, or even encourage, hatred and intolerance of others. You can’t. And if you want to claim that there are good reasons for your hatred, then that means you are either uninformed or deceiving yourself. Everyone has things to learn, but that isn’t the same as refusing to open your eyes and ears to the world around you, and learning from experience. (That, by the way, is precisely why it’s so important that the gay community be allowed to publicize itself to others, many of whom have changed their attitudes about it because they see that it is made up of regular human beings who share the world with them like everyone else.)
Attacking people for their identity or affiliation is what racists do, and again, if you have no problem with racism then this won’t matter to you. But don’t you dare claim you are a fair or just person, and please be quiet the next time you encounter something anti-Semitic or anti-Israel- the people who produced it are exactly the same as you in the sense that they are also justifying themselves, and they lack the self-awareness, or the sense of irony, to realize how ridiculous and hypocritical they are. And to finish up, here’s a little test- have you at any point in reading this said to yourself “He must be gay”? If you have, you’ve proven my point- you’ve assumed that people only have sympathy for those they think are similar to themselves, so you don’t need to worry about treating decently anyone who doesn’t fall into that category. So please think about that the next time- maybe even on this page- you find yourself faced with hateful or bigoted remarks, or are about to indulge in them yourself.