Pride and Prejudice
On Thursday, as Jerusalem prepared for the Gay Pride Parade by cordoning off main thoroughfares and hanging rainbow flags across the city, 39-year-old Yishai Schlissel was making his way to the capital with mass murder on his mind and a knife in the pocket of his black coat.
In spite of a heavy police presence at the event, Schlissel managed to walk through the throngs, initially undetected. This would not have been so strange, given the large number of people by whom he was surrounded. But Schlissel’s haredi garb, long beard and sidelocks ought to have caused him to stand out like a sore thumb among the colorful, scantily clad crowd.
By the time he caught the attention of law enforcers, however, it was too late: Schlissel had already succeeded in stabbing six people, among them 16-year-old Shira Banki, who died of her wounds on Monday.
The news of what the entire country immediately condemned as an “act of Jewish terrorism” sparked universal horror, mourning and societal self-flagellation.
In the first place, there is a general consensus that it could have been prevented.
Schlissel had been released from prison a mere three weeks earlier, after spending a decade in jail for committing exactly the same crime at the very same venue. Indeed, at the 2005 Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, he stabbed three marchers. This led to his being convicted of attempted murder and aggravated assault, and sentenced to 12 years in prison — a sentence which was reduced in 2007.
Secondly, upon his release, Schlissel exhibited behavior that should have set off alarm bells. In the lead-up to the parade, he distributed a document to neighbors in Modiin Illit in which he wrote: “It is the obligation of every Jew to keep his soul from punishment and stop this giant desecration of God’s name next Thursday.”
He also gave a radio interview to a haredi station reiterating this sentiment and call to action from fellow zealots.
So the fact that he was able to roam around freely, with no surveillance, is shocking to many observers.
Not to me, though, because neither the overly lenient justice system nor the incompetence of the police, coupled with its limited manpower, is the least bit new.
Nor is it surprising that politicians across the board, along with the public, the pundits and all rabbis who recognize and respect the laws of the state and the Torah, promptly denounced the attack. (Though Schlissel and his ilk claim to be upholding Jewish law, they seem to think they are above adhering to the Ten Commandments as well as to the Israeli courts.)
What should cause one to pause is the reaction of the Israeli Left to the incident. Rallies held over the weekend, ostensibly for the purpose of reiterating the call for “tolerance” and “togetherness,” turned into hate-fests. Not against the anti-Israel ultra-Orthodox; not against the police; not against the courts; and not even against the electoral system, which is responsible for the power of the haredi parties.
No, the hatred and vitriol were directed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partners. Chants full of Hebrew rhymes, accusing the prime minister of incitement, were shouted everywhere, from Zion Square in Jerusalem to Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett was asked at the last minute not to speak at the rally in Tel Aviv, when the shouting and cursing at the mere mention of his name grew too menacing. Energy and Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz was only able to reach the podium with escorts. Members of the LGBT faction of the Likud party ushered him to the front, while being jeered and called “fascists” by gays with opposing political views — and by other leftists with red paint on their palms, to represent blood on the hands of anyone and everyone who might have a different opinion of why they were all gathered there in the first place.
The irony is that Schlissel hates Netanyahu just as much as they do, but for being a secular Jew in the modern State of Israel, whose espousal of liberal values is intolerable.
There is no doubt that this time around, Schlissel will be sentenced to life. Thanks to the Left and Netanyahu — who prevented the passage of a proposed bill favoring capital punishment for terrorists — the murderer will live to see his next release, rather than die for slaughtering an innocent girl.
This travesty is what allows Arab terrorists to bide their time until being freed as part of Israel’s repeated “prisoner exchange” and “peace process” deals.
But this is of no concern to the Left, which treats every individual Muslim murderer as a “lone wolf,” yet blames Israeli society as a whole (with the exception of themselves) for the likes of Schlissel.
Furthermore, not only was Schlissel’s stabbing spree singular. Over the course of 14 years of annual gay pride parades, the two stabbing attacks were carried out by the same person.
The attempt by the Left to obfuscate this fact and turn the killing into another excuse to bash the country and its leader is disgusting.
Pride is not the word that comes to mind this week, but rather shame.
Ruthie Blum is the web editor of Voice of Israel talk radio (voiceofisrael.com). This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.