Friday, July 31, 2015

The Knifemen are Back

An ultra-orthodox man attacked revelers in yesterday's Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem. The man had done so before. Several people got injured, two seriously, when he stabbed them in the back. -- Secretive knifemen who stab people in the back because of what they represent are not a new phenomenon in the history of Jerusalem. In Roman times, they were called sikarii, and Jesus of Nazareth had one of them among his twelve disciples: Judas Iscariotes or Judah the Knifeman. Modern-day ultra-orthodox anti-gay zealotry, as noble as it may be in the eyes of the zealots, indicates the deep divide in values that separates us from one another. By us, I mean those committed to tolerance of difference and those opposed to deviation from a norm they suppose to be divinely revealed. When we (Jews, Christians, Muslims, whatever) take it upon ourselves to look at others through the eyes of God or an absolute standard, then we may feel justified to take up arms and hurt or kill the supposed deviants. The individual who commits such acts should be isolated and given a chance to reconsider and repent. That's what jails are for. The culture that gives rise to self-righteousness should be changed. That's what education is for. But the society that tolerates the knifeman and offers him a second chance to stab is in trouble.

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