Many synagogues across western Europe have been essentially turned into fortresses with armed police and sophisticated electronic surveillance systems, and now many Jews believe that the same should happen to synagogues in America:
Will security at American Jewish institutions now mirror that of Europe, with its police protection, armed guards, panic rooms and sterile zones at synagogues?
It’s a possibility that is being debated more seriously than ever before following the Tree of Life Congregation shooting Saturday in Pittsburgh in which a gunman killed 11 people.
Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the Interfaith Alliance, told The Washington Post that posting armed guards outside synagogues in some places would be “prohibitive” to Jewish communal life itself.
But Gary Sikorski, director of security for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, told the Detroit Jewish News that the idea, suggested by President Donald Trump after the attack, is “not a bad one.”
European security professionals say that even if Sikorski’s approach prevails, it will take at least a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars before U.S. Jewry’s security infrastructure matches the European counterpart.
“The security doctrine you see in Europe is the result of decades of evolution,” said Ophir Revach, director of the European Jewish Congress’ Security and Crisis Center. “It was built on lessons from terrorist attacks in the 1960s and adjusted constantly. It’s pretty comprehensive.”
Even if a critical mass of U.S. Jewish communities decide tomorrow that they want to replicate the European model, Revach said, “Optimistically speaking, it will take at least a decade to achieve.” When it comes to security, he said, “American Jewry is at the beginning of a long journey.”
In several European countries, synagogues are under constant protection of police or army troops. Most of them have volunteer guards, including armed ones. Many also have a security command room, where trained professionals or volunteers use elaborate video surveillance systems to monitor their premises, often while exchanging information with other Jewish institutions in real time.
These arrangements regularly prevent violence against congregants.
In 2015, a volunteer guard outside Copenhagen’s main synagogue was shot dead after engaging an armed Islamist who had intended to carry out a shooting attack inside the building, where dozens of people were celebrating a bat mitzvah. Dan Uzan’s intervention allowed police to shoot the assailant, who never made it inside the shul.
A year earlier, a dozen or so volunteer guards staved off dozens of rioters who had intended to storm the Synagogue de la Roquette in Paris as payback for Israel’s actions in Gaza. As 200 worshippers waited inside, the defenders held their ground for 20 minutes amid a vicious street brawl with the attackers until police finally arrived at the scene.
“Dan Uzan’s death was tragic, but from a security point of view it was a system that did what it needed to do,” Revach said.
Had the Tree of Life synagogue been guarded, “this attack may have been prevented,” he said. “Even armed perpetrators are deterred in a major way by guards.”
The U.S. taxpayers are already giving jewish organizations $50 million per year for security, so how much is it going to cost us to “europeanize” all synagogues and jewish institutions in the U.S.? We are talking at least $1 Billion per year or more. But this begs the question: why are U.S. taxpayers obligated to pay for private security at private religious institutions? Where is the so-called division of “church and State” that the Jews love to trumpet whenever we want anything Christian defended in our schools or institutions? Rules for us, and different rules for the goyim.
If Jews need an explanation as to why they need so much security, they should look at their own hypocrisy.
And no one ever asks why Christian churches don’t need $50 million a year for security, despite the fact that there have been numerous shootings at churches over the years. The answer is simple: certain Jews know they are engaged in activities that cause resentment and anger among the “goyim”, and this anger puts all Jews at risk. Even their ‘holy’ book, The Talmud addresses this issue.
This is the discussion that jewish communities need to have with each other: ‘What are we doing that is making the goyim so angry?’ Maybe then they won’t need all this massive security, but that’s never going to happen because they are victims, and that’s where their power lies.