Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Protection Is Bigger Than The Both Of Us? 

A few days ago, English police shot dead a Brazilian tourist in a London underground station. Apparantly it was because they suspected him of being a terrorist and he ran away when they chased him. But can you blame him for running away? They weren't even dressed as policemen! Ask yourself this: if you were in a London underground station and a bunch of random people started running after you, would you stop, or would you run for your life?

Recently a lot of people (including us bloggers at kiwijewpundit) have been quick to defend such actions. "He might have been a terrorist!" But I think that this excuse for such actions has been taken way too far. Can we really excuse such acts? Killing (and verifying the death of!) an innocent man for the sake of the "greater good?" I would have liked to think that the world left such Hegelian utilitarianism a long time ago. It's precisely this kind of utilitarianism that can so often lead to morally repugnant acts. Communism has largely been left behind by the West because it understands the problems inherent in placing the universal over and above the individual.

Terrorism is a hard cookie to crack. However, I don't think the answer is the complete disregard of the individual for the sake of the universal. In doing so, we become as bad as the ideologoies we are fighting.

I hope this terrible incident is a wake up call for the West. We need to fight terrorism, but when our fighting leads to a state of light-headedness and a disregard for what is moral and right, then we have taken a wrong turn somewhere.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Ever noticed the similarities? 

The Toddler's Creed

If I want it, it's mine.

If I can take it away from you, it's mine.

If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.

If it looks like mine, it's mine.

If I give it to you and change my mind later, it's mine.

If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine.

If it's mine, it will never belong to anyone else. No matter what.

Waaaah! My toys! Mine! Give me! Waaaaah...

The Jihadi Creed

If I want it, it's Dar ul-Islam.

If I can take it away from you, it's Dar ul-Islam.

If I had it a little while ago, it's Dar ul-Islam.

If it looks like Dar ul-Islam, it's Dar ul-Islam.

If I give it to you and change my mind later, it's Dar ul-Islam.

If we are building something together, all the pieces are Dar ul-Islam.

If it's Dar ul-Islam, it will never belong to anyone else. No matter what.

Waaah, my land! Chechnya mine, Palestine mine, Andalus mine, give me!! Waaaah...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Reality check 

What was responsible for this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

Please, let us jettison the euphemisms and the pieties. They may serve a purpose for world leaders who must soothe and unify, but they block the truth.

Islam did this.

It did all of this. Imam Blair and Mullah Bush and Sheikh Clark cannot dictate what is real Islam ("the religion of peace"™) and what is a "perversion". The fact is that real schools of Islam are providing the ideological basis, the justification, and the fuel, for the most unbelievable barbarities.

Yes, I believe that the vandalism of mosques in Auckland was shameful and awful. But Muslims must renounce jihadi violence -- unreservedly, without "buts", without "you must understand the root causes", without ridiculous evasions blaming the incredibly depraved state of much of the Muslim world on the presence of a few Jews in the Middle East.

Otherwise, unfortunately, a war of civilisations is simply inevitable.

Monday, July 04, 2005

This is not the time for a Pinhas 

In the Book of Numbers (Bemidbar) (Hebrew text here, English here), the People of Israel camped at Shittim in the desert. Some of the men began illicit relationships with Moabite women. A noble of the tribe of Shimon, Zimri ben Salu and a Midianite princess, Kozbi bat Tsur, brazenly paraded their liaison.

Pinhas ben Elazar took a spear, and killed the two of them. He received a Divine reward: the Covenant of Peace. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 81b) said that he acted correctly: that the law was "kinain pogi'in bo" (a zealous one may kill them).

However, in the post-Biblical world, acts of such zealotry in Judaism are hard to find. But rabbinical Judaism did not generally condone the taking of law into one's hands; it even used law of evidence to effectively abolish the death penalty (see Talmud Makkot 7a). Judaism does not enforce itself through violence.

That is why it is particularly sad when an individual sullies the name of the Torah by trying to enforce it through violence. An Orthodox Jew stabbed three people at a Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem.

It is a legitimate opinion to be opposed to such displays of sexuality, especially in a Holy City (and clergy of the three monotheistic religions that revere Jerusalem were opposed to it). As much as our tendency is toward inclusiveness and tolerance, normative rabbinic Judaism does not and cannot endorse a lifestyle that involves sexual expression that is forbidden by the Torah. But in a democratic and civil society, disputes must be settled by the law; all must be treated with equality and compassion by the law. This is not the age of Pinhas: it is an age of dialogue and mutual respect.

This individual has disgraced Judaism -- a true Hillul Hashem.

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