Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How come the Chosen People turned into emissaries of death, violence, and terrorism?

The persecution plague

How did it happen that a nation that was persecuted, hunted, oppressed, exiled, humiliated, and nearly annihilated has become so violent and hateful? How come the Chosen People turned into emissaries of death, violence, and terrorism?

Tal Eitan Published: 04.16.07, 16:51 / Israel Culture

For centuries, the Jewish nation was persecuted by all kinds of evildoers - religious, political, and even "scientific." Persecuted first because they introduced monotheism, the Jews were later victimized by Christians over the crucifixion of Christ, and later encountered all kinds of hate and smear campaigns that peaked with the systematic killing of Jews by the Nazi regime in the Holocaust. The hatred that blinded the world and left millions dead led to the establishment of the state of the mistreated, a refuge for the Jews in the Land of Israel.

We have always treated ourselves as the chosen nation. Judaism does carry individual and collective power, exciting culture, wisdom, simplicity, beauty, and magic, offering a tradition to be praised, extolled, admired, and commended. Our Bible contains advanced and enlightened rules and laws that protect those among us who are different, weak, and oppressed. It is full of love for humankind and all other God's creatures. Over the years, our greatest rabbis and Halakic rulers used the Book of Books to bring justice and wisdom, to tell right from wrong, to instill values of true and human morality that even the best legislators of the most enlightened countries would envy.

Alas, as time goes by, the beauty of our religion is eroded gradually as people abuse the Book and exploit its phrases to promote political causes. Once those good old words are distorted this way, they get politically biased, lose their human meaning, and become extremely dangerous. Under the rule of cynics with no moral scruples, the attitude of Judaism toward all men who were created in His shape has turned into a terrifying smear and hate campaign where mad rabbis push for the death of politicians, promote the oppression of entire sectors, and preach harming others, who are different and weak.

Hatred that ignores all traditional interpretations

For example, the "best" rabbis explained why it is so dangerous to let Gay Parade - which they named Profanity Parade - march in Jerusalem. Wishing to reunite their disintegrating courts, to regain their lost followers and eroded status, the heads of those religious courts referred to a single sentence from Leviticus. Ignoring dozens of other decrees that call on the Nation of Israel to severely punish the deviants, those rabbis decided to excite their followers by condemning Gay Parade.

Leviticus contains many other sentences, of course, that order us to "love thy neighbor," to love the foreigners among us, and to respect our parents and elderly. It contains rules that are not less severe than the one against sodomy - stating that it is wrong to shave beards, make tattoos, or hire sorcerers or necromancers. It is, therefore, surprising that the rabbis decided not to pick on those who mark their skin with tattoo or the readers of astrology sections in the weekend papers, but chose to rise against homosexuals. Something about gays made the rabbis produce such hatred that ignored all the traditional interpretations, the humane concepts that are the foundation of Judaism, the concept of loving all other God-made humans.

The results were not late in coming: Severe violence that has nothing to do with true, beautiful, old and forgotten Judaism erupted. Garbage cans were torched, police officers wounded, property damaged. One hateful person even went as far as trying to murder a marcher. Adam David-Russo still carries the scars from the wounds he sustained in Jerusalem's Gay Parade 2005. Some called it a "civil war," blaming the cynical and ugly abuse of universal and Jewish values by rabbis and leaders.

Emissaries of death

How did we - the chosen, kind, and exalted nation turn into emissaries of death, violence, and terrorism? Who dared claim the right to turn the meaning of our beautiful and wonderful Book into a murder-instigation call? Moreover, why did we keep silent in the face of this dreadful and cynical abuse? Why did we let them translate the Good Book into this kind of horrible and destructive meaning?

Really, how did it happen that a nation that was persecuted, hunted, oppressed, exiled, humiliated, and nearly annihilated for hundreds of years has become so violent and hateful? Have we learned nothing from that blind hatred that was based on old beliefs and clear interests that any intelligent person should have seen?

This is my plague and it hangs like a rattling saber over our heads, threatening to cut - in a single blow - hundreds of years of faith and love, of loving traditions that stand humble in the face of God's most wonderful creation - Man, all of mankind.

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