Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Jak Black's Gandhi Plan

The Border Police are gearing up for the Jerusalem gay parade, slated to take place next week. According to the media,

Police decided to expand the initial number of forces intended for the parade after receiving intelligence information regarding plans by ultra-Orthodox and extreme rightists to hold violent protests and attack parade participants.

Now, one can really trust neither the media in Israel nor the police, so it’s hard to know the precise nature of these “threats” against the parade, or even if they exist. But judging from comments I’ve heard personally on the Chareidi street, I’d be willing to assume that such threats exist. After all, this parade has nothing to do with homosexuality or “pride.” The last such parade was held in Rome, and the current one is being held in Jerusalem – if the parade in the past held a fig leaf of activism, that leaf is now rakishly askew. This parade is nothing but a blatant provocation against the religions of the world (next year in Mecca? somehow, I doubt it.) If Judaism is purposely being taunted in its most holy city, I cannot blame some for the desire to take action.

Nevertheless, I feel strongly that violence is the wrong way to go, questions of morality aside. In a word, violence plays directly into the hands of the protesters. Violence is precisely what they want. Cameras will zero in to signs demanding the death-penalty for homosexuals, violent scuffles with police will ensue, and the inevitable grotesquely fat Chassid, flecks of kugel in his beard, red in the face, screaming in broken English that these people are going to rot in hell will loop endlessly on the evening news. The participants, of course, will be portrayed as peace-loving citizens of the world – happy, well-adjusted, and “fabulous.”

Overall, a gigantic chillul Hashem.

That’s why I feel that the best move of the religious world (and here I go beyond the Chareidi world, because there are hundreds of thousands of deeply religious people in Israel who feel this is an injustice) would be to adopt Jak Black’s Gandhi Plan.

For those who have been hiding in a cave (or never saw the movie starring Ben Kingsley) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) was

a major political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement. He was the pioneer of Satyagraha — resistance through mass civil disobedience strongly founded upon non-violence, becoming one of the strongest philosophies of freedom struggles worldwide.

Without going into the history of India, the cricical point is this – one of the most effective ways to fight against a stronger power in this modern world is not direct confrontation, but rather non-violent disobedience. If the State sends its might to attack the protesters or attempt to remove them by force, world opinion shifts quickly and heavily in favor of the protesters. And in this modern world, mass-opinion is everything. Opinion is why the Gay Parade begins with such an assumption of favor – they just want to march nicely to the Wailing Wall, no?

Imagine what would happen if dawn broke on the morning of the parade to a different scene than the police or the marchers expected. There are no violent protests. There are no placards demanding “death to the sickos!” Instead, there are two-hundred-thousand religious Jews of all stripes, sitting peacefully along the direct route of the parade, and barring entrance to the Old-City. Nothing will move them, even the inevitable blasts of police water-cannons. A few calm, rational spokesmen speak to the reporters, patiently explaining why the religious community feels this is a direct provocation. The day wears on, but the protesters refuge to budge. Just as the marchers have the “right” to march in Jerusalem, the protesters have the right to silently proclaim the ideology of their religion. The parade is forced to march elsewhere.

Overall, a gigantic kiddush Hashem.

(though unlikely to happen)

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