Post-Pittsburgh Sympathy Just A Start For Jewish Security

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Dear non-Jews, especially liberal non-Jews:

Thank you for the outpouring of sympathy following the killing on Saturday of 11 of us at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

So long as we Jews have your attention, though, and at the risk of appearing ungrateful or cranky and even of provoking some angry responses, let me say that if what leads you enthusiastically to embrace the Jewish cause is the suffering and victimhood of the Jews, you may consider critically reexamining your underlying assumptions.

Take one of my own senators here in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, who is also touted as a Democratic presidential frontrunner. She greeted the Pittsburgh massacre with an admirably clear statement:  “The attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue was a horrific act of evil. We must recognize this hatred for what it is, & come together to fight it.”

Yet when it comes to Jews in Israel under attack by arson kites and riots orchestrated by a Hamas terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction, Senator Warren has called on the Israeli army to exercise “restraint” in defending itself. Warren also voted for the Iran nuclear deal that Israel’s elected government correctly warned would provide more cash to fund Jew-killing terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Anyone who wants actually to prevent Jewish suffering rather than merely to fetishize it, chase after it with candle-lit vigils, or use it as a political bludgeon against President Donald Trump needs to accept the exercise of Jewish power and self-defense by the Israel Defense Forces and by the state of Israel. They are, among many other important things, the antidotes to Jewish victimhood.

Consider, too, the now apparently widely held view among liberals that the FBI — the whole Justice Department, for that matter — ought to be insulated from White House interference, or, in essence, from political control or accountability. I’m a huge defender of the First and Second Amendments. The First includes the free exercise of religion even before free speech. But with federal law enforcement officials running sting-operations verging-on-entrapment aimed at everyone from urban politicians, pedophiles, and Wall Street “insider traders,” you’d think maybe they might want also to direct some resources to tracking people who have 20 guns registered to their name while also spouting anti-Jewish bile on the Internet? These perpetrators all seem so obvious in retrospect.

After September 11, 2001, in New York City, counterterrorism became a political issue, and New York’s elected mayor, Michael Bloomberg, ramped up his police department to respond in kind. One can and should legitimately debate tactics and outcomes, but those are choices for elected representatives and voters. Insisting that the FBI and Department of Justice must exist in a sphere outside of presidential control — as seems to be the premise of a lot of the fuss about Trump, Sessions, and Comey — is at odds with the goal of robust crime prevention. Let the politicians compete on who can best protect the synagogues.

Finally, even after Pittsburgh, the biggest threat to American Jewry today isn’t anti-Semitism but assimilation. There are public policy approaches that might counteract that — vouchers to help parents pay for costly parochial schools, Hebrew language as an option alongside Spanish, French, Chinese, and Latin in public schools — but, again, such options are routinely rejected by the same liberal politicians who will show up at a moment’s notice without hesitation for a candle-lit post-massacre solidarity vigil.

With more vigilance, maybe there’d be less need for vigils. No one is questioning the sincerity of the sympathy. But sympathy is a just a start.


Ira Stoll is editor of and author of JFK, Conservative