11/04/2006

Letter Concerning the Jerusalem Pride March

The following is my translation of a letter that is being circulated in Jerusalem concerning events set to take place next weekend. While I don't get many of the allusions in the letter, and I don't think it will deter those who are determined to act violently, it is very important that there be a strong religious voice against violence this weekend. I suspect most Jerusalemites would rather that both the marchers and the protesters would just go away. Perhaps I'll post more on this issue at a different time:

“And they responded and said, ‘our hands did not spill this blood, nor did our eyes see” (Devarim 21:7)

We, members of Jerusalem’s Orthodox communities, express our absolute renunciation of the words that have been heard over the past few days, with regard to the ‘Pride March’ that is set to take place in Jerusalem this Friday (November 10). These words include incitement, violent intent, an attempt to silence voices, and degradation of fellow human beings.

As residents of Jerusalem, and as those who see themselves as an integral part of Jerusalem’s Orthodox community, we are unable to remain silent when threats of harsh violence are being heard, especially in light of the fact that these threats were realized last year. We are aware that the systematic provocation against the march is portrayed enjoying the participation of all parts of the city’s Orthodox communities, and it is important that it be clear that a large part of this community is revolted by it. In particular, we oppose some of the representation of the city’s religious school system, in which our children are educated, in their incitement.

This statement does not support the march itself, or take a position on its integrity or justness. Amongst us, there are different positions on this topic and we respect the rights of all sides to express them. However, the seriousness of the words spoken these past few days obligates all community leaders to distance themselves from any hint of agreement with incitement or violent intent. This issue demonstrates how narrow is the gap between silencing voices, even of opposing religious viewpoints, and harsh violence. The coalition of extreme elements and lawbreakers, along with honorable leaders whose behavior, during normal times, is quite acceptable to us, obligates us to open their eyes and cause their reversion to acting like noble-minded Jerusalemites. Lip-service will not suffice to prevent violence. If threats become realized, even the more tolerant members of our society will not be able to wash his hands in innocence.

Here’s hoping that we can all accept Shabbat with clear mind and conscience.

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