At Large

The Politics of Impersonal Destruction

Pointers of blame in the Tel Aviv gay club shootings.

By 8.3.09

JERUSALEM-- There I was with one foot on the plane, ready to wing my way back to Miami on Tuesday, when the other shoe fell and knocked my socks off. In the aftermath of a grisly crime and a pithy tragedy, I witnessed a page out of the leftist playbook being acted out in Israel, with all the moves mimicking the style of the Democrat party in the United States.

On Saturday night here in Israel, a gunman dressed in black entered a club for gay teenagers in Tel Aviv with submachine gun in hand, spraying destruction in a random act of fury. When he departed into the night, he left behind two dead and fifteen wounded, three of them in critical condition. It was immediately assumed without a modicum of evidence -- the killer shouted no slogans, left no pamphlets -- that this indiscriminate act was an act of discrimination. If it turns out the perpetrator had a grudge against an individual or felt rejected by the club, you can be sure no one will have the grace to apologize for jumping to conclusions (see encyclopedia under Obama-Crowley).

Armed with this assumption, the leftists immediately named the party at fault: the Sephardic Orthodox political party, Shas. One of their Knesset members had made the statement some years back that homosexuality was a sin which catalyzed earthquakes as a punishment. This was branded as incitement to kill. A number of left-wing politicians demanded charges be brought. President Shimon Peres did not go quite so far, contenting himself with the pronouncement that "the dreadful murder that was committed yesterday in Tel Aviv against teenagers and young people is a murder that a cultured and enlightened people cannot accept."

The absurdity of all this should be obvious. 1) Any murder cannot be accepted by cultured and enlightened people, especially spree killing, whether by a sniper on a campus tower or a disgruntled postal employee or a guy shooting up a McDonald’s. 2) A homosexual club does not represent culture and enlightenment; it is a culturally neutral activity that most people who define culture and enlightenment as exempt from morality refrain from criticizing. Shooting up an opera or a ballet may be a crime against culture and enlightenment, not this.

As for a religious person who links homosexuality to earthquakes, this is far from incitement to violence or even to hatred. This entire realm of spiritual causation is by definition abstract. For example, the Talmud blamed the destruction of the Second Temple on people’s inability to get along. This is quoted by rabbis every time some major squabble occurs in a Jewish community. But no one responds by killing the parties to the dispute because they are preventing the Temple from being rebuilt. When a particular action or behavior is said to cause a specific punishment (like justice denied or justice delayed causing war, per the Mishna) this is intended to inspire people to greater nobility.

Putting aside these sorts of refutations, the strategy itself is a fraud. Murders are committed by people who lose their grip and they strike across the social and political horizon. In the last few years alone we have witnessed such attacks in churches, at an Army recruitment center, at high schools, at colleges, at the Capitol building, among other places. Has anyone suggested Christopher Hitchens should be held responsible for the shootings at a Wisconsin church or the massacre of Amish children last year? Should Noam Chomsky be blamed for the killing at the recruitment center in Arkansas earlier this year?

The people who deserve condemnation here, no matter who the culprit turns out to be, are the leftists who immediately capitalize on human tragedy to score political points. You can always count on a Clinton or an Obama to cash in on a Murrah bombing, a fire at a black church, or a demonstration at an abortion clinic. They use such events to paint the worldview of their opponents as a dark cloud of destruction poised to envelop the pristine world of "cultured and enlightened people."

Violence is the purview of disturbed individuals who will not accept the restraints imposed by reality on expression and argumentation. These may be motivated by personal gripes (the Virginia Tech shooter), leftist lunacy (William Ayers) or rightist rage (Timothy McVey). They leave in their wake only wreckage and in no way reflect upon those who hold like views. If Shimon Peres and his ilk were burdened by integrity, they would not exploit the blood of innocents to fertilize their political gardens.

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About the Author

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a senior editor of The American Spectator.