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Monday, 3 August 2009

Causeless Hatred Still Disfigures Jewry

Today I write as someone with an openly, proudly gay young cousin. I write knowing my relative is a first-class son and  equally was a deeply caring and loving grandson whom his late grandmother adored.

I report further that he cares a great deal about his Jewish heritage and has become, in part, the Woods’ self-appointed family historian.

I take time  to muse also that under other circumstances too terrible to imagine, let alone delineate, that he could have been among those involved in the shooting at the GLBT community centre in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

I write further as someone who troubles much over the present Israeli Government but who is relieved to learn that Premier  Bibi Netanyahu has pledged that the murderer will be ‘prosecuted to the full extent of the law’.

I also pen these words relieved to discover that ‘ordinary’ Israeli residents have equated the killer with the terrorist Hamas organisation.

However, if relatively small communities like the Jewish world may serve as microcosms of wider society, so Israel reflects yet more intensely as a tiny but powerful mirror of our nature.

Every time we look up; speak to friends; watch, listen to or read news of the Jewish world it is to learn we are ridden with continuous self-hating factionalism. The unending stream of nonsense, for example over non-Orthodox entry to U.K. Jewish schools and the status of women refused religious divorces by their pantomimically vindictive ex-spouses, proves time and again that the Jewish world has yet to learn the most basic of Torah (Hebrew Bible) values - to live with itself in peace.

I intend to return to this theme again but meanwhile  let’s see what the hard-working Israel Religion Action  Centre reported on  behalf of the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism about the GLBT centre shooting:

“The Progressive Jewish communities in Israel bow their heads in sorrow for the loss of life and the pain of the wounded in the Saturday night shooting in the GLBT Community Centre in Tel Aviv.
The possibility that this shooting was a hate crime is appalling and sends a shockwave through our communities. It serves as a reminder of the destructive forces of hate and incitement that sadly still exist in our society.
We carry a prayer in memory of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to those wounded. We add to this prayer the necessity to continue to promote tolerance in Israeli society, expose hatred, and remain dedicated to the difficult struggle against discrimination, hand in hand with the Gay community in Israel.
We look to the arrival of the days that will embody the vision of these verses from the Book of Psalms: "There will be peace in your walls, tranquillity within your homes. For the sake of my brethren and friends, I wish peace for you."

IRAC itself stated yesterday August 2, 2009/ 12 Av 5769:

“On behalf of the Progressive Jewish family in Israel, we would like to express our utter shock over the recent shooting in Tel Aviv. We bow our heads in condolence for these two young victims whose lives were brutally ended on Saturday night.

We join in the deep sadness of the family members and the Israeli GLBT community. The fact that this shocking murder cut short an innocent gathering of youth only deepens the pain and shock.
The possibility that this murder is a hate crime heightens our awareness of discrimination in light of the GLBT community overcoming hateful incitement and primitive opinions in Israeli society. Throughout the moments of great achievements in the struggle to prevent intolerance, the GLBT Community in Israel unfortunately knows countless moments of having to cope with the pains of exposing hate, incitement, and outright rejection. This difficult tragedy has intensified the urgent need for a mutual struggle against these nasty and menacing phenomena.
At this difficult time, the Progressive Jewish communities in Israel proudly stand with the members of the GLBT community in Israel.

We are here to provide the community with public, educational, and spiritual support. We call upon our rabbis and members of our community to take part in the memorials to pay homage to those who have been killed and support those who have been wounded. We will be present at the demonstrations that will follow these tragic murders. We hope that this participation will demonstrate our commitment to building a more tolerant society together, promoting respect of all people.

Our hearts go out to the young people killed and wounded on Saturday night and our lips carry a prayer for the days to come that will embody the verses of the prophet Isaiah: “They shall not hurt or destroy anywhere in My holy mountain.” (11:9)

Anat Hoffman
Executive Director, Israel Religious Action Center

Rabbi Gilad Kariv
Director, Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism”

“May He who makes peace in high places bring peace to us and all Israel”.


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