As an American Jew I am proud of the fact that out of centuries of oppression and persecution my people forged a robust secular democracy in the Middle East, the only democracy in that region.
But when that democracy allows religious extremists to suppress the civil rights of any of their fellow citizens, Israel stands in peril of losing its reason for being and it's right to exist.
If one man threatens violence and physical harm, even murder against another, he must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. It should not be different if it's two men, hundreds or even thousands of men. And if the violence and bigotry is advanced in the name of some supernatural dark being, the crime is no different and the force of law should be applied with full vigor.
While one could argue, including this writer, for days and months and years over the treatment of Palestinians and Palestinian extremists and terrorists by Israeli authorities, one must agree that Jewish terrorists and extremists must be treated with no less force and no less enforcement of law. Both groups pose threats to the security and existence of Israeli democracy. If Israel believes that negotiation with terrorists and extortionists is wrong, then why is this rule bent for ultra-Orthodox Jews?
In the interests of full disclosure, I will openly state that ultra-Orthodox Jews make my skin crawl in ways that evangelicals and extremist Muslims can not even approach. They wallow and revel in a cesspool of bigotry, violence and hatred that is obscene and abominable and a complete and utter betrayal of their fellow Jews and the memory of the Six Million.
Did millions of Jewish men, women and children and tens of thousands of homosexuals suffer horrible fates under the Nazis so that Jews in the year 2006 would have the freedom to pollute the streets of Jerusalem with vile behavior that is all too reminiscent of Kristallnacht, pogroms, the persecution of innocents and a Nazi-esque assault against human rights and a free society?
If the riots and threats of the past week had been perpetrated by brown-shirted, swastika wearing neo-Nazis would the Israeli government's response been as conciliatory and as flexible? And yet in terms of the language and actions of the ultra-Orthodox, how was it different from the Nazis--other than the costumes?
While the public relations challenge of prosecuting thousands of religious extremists is surely monumental, the cost of not doing so is, in my view, potentially fatal to the nation.
And after canceling the Pride parade in response to illegal threats from the ultra-Orthodox only to allow them to stage an appalling, insulting and disgusting counter "Beast Parade" along the same route that was to see Pride is an abomination and unforgivable insult to all free and decent men and women everywhere.