The thing that distinguishes the Pittsburgh attack from, say, Nazi Germany, is that in America, churches and mosques also have been attacked. Synagogue attacks are rare. Here, the American government is pledged to protect, not persecute, minorities.
The synagogue attack opened the door to a discussion of how Jews should protect themselves.
Jews with guns?
They go together like rocks and lox.
Everyone knows guns are anathema to Jews.
Like most stereotypes, it contains some truth, but what has been true — I’ll get to that in a moment — is changing.
Colleague Samantha Melamed had a story that probably was surprising to many, that in response to the Tree of Life massacre, the most deadly attack on Jews in U.S. history, some Jews are arming up.
The truth is some Jews, such as myself, were armed long before the Pittsburgh attack. And we did not take up arms because of anti-Semitism, which is an abhorrent, if minor, part of American life.
Yes, reported hate crimes against Jews, as has been widely, jumped 57 percent in 2017. The actual numbers are less scary: The increase was from 1,267 incidents to 1,986. That is less than 2,000 incidents in a country of 325 million. Truly the lunatic fringe.
While walking to take a picture of Rodeph Shalom (above) in Spring Garden, I saw this on a pole on Broad Street at Vine.
Ugly, but not threatening to me. If these wannabe Nazis were trying to recruit, they’d have a phone number, email or mailing address on the sticker. Why don’t they? They are afraid of what might come to them.
In the past, specific attacks on or threats against Jewish institutions led to the formation of the Jewish Defense League, which calls itself a self-defense organization to protect Jews, but also has been called a right-wing extremist group. Both might be true.
I bought my first pistol more than 25 years ago and got a carry permit because my life had been threatened in connection with my job, not my religion.
Since neither my employer nor the police can give me 24/7 protection, it’s my job to look out for No. 1.
I have received credible threats at other times, one resulting in the incarceration of a man with mental issues who also threatened three other Daily News staffers.
I have since bought several other hand guns because they have different purposes. And, no, my liberal friends, the guns’ purpose is not to “kill.” It is to defend.
Do I feel more safe because I am armed?
A little, and I have thought about the relationship between Jews and firearms.
Why is a group that has been traditionally persecuted and murdered so adamant against self-protection? Was it the futility of arming yourself against the host country when you were such a pitiful and helpless minority?
Could Jews have resisted the Nazis, when the government had all the guns? Not successfully, but . . .
When Jews could get guns, they resisted and died on their feet — most notably in the Warsaw ghetto, but there were other uprisings. Jews were capable of fighting if they were armed, but they seldom were.
The historical antipathy towards guns was explained to me by Rabbi Bob Alper.
Jews never went hunting, he told me.
“Because they were prohibited from having guns?” I asked.
“Not so much that,” he said.
In the old days, all Jews were Orthodox. Any flesh they ate had to be slaughtered according to strict dietary laws. Anything killed with a gun was not kosher, and couldn’t be eaten. So why hunt — for exercise? Feh.
So Jews’ estrangement from firearms is traditional and long-standing.
Despite some lingering anti-Semitism, America is safe for Jews. One disgusting rampage doesn’t change that.
But if a Jew wants to pack some insurance, who am I — or you — to say no?