Synagogues and Jewish community centers guarded by police vans. Police bolstered by private security firms from Israel. Jews—out of fear—wearing caps instead of kippot.
That was Continental Europe in August of 1984. I was participating in a European-Jewish heritage tour for high school and college students sponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. We had the honor of meeting Wiesenthal in Vienna—his office was a fortress. Gates and locks guarded him in a city that only forty-five years before welcomed Hitler and harassed Jews. Vienna, Munich, Amsterdam—and now every city in America.
Writing in these pages more than a year ago, I warned that American Jewry was headed for hard times and was vulnerable. Synagogues, glatt kosher restaurants, kosher pizza shops, yeshiva day schools and high schools, Jewish community centers, college campuses—all “soft targets” for ISIS, Al Qaeda and “lone wolves.”
But this not just a Jewish issue. This is an American issue, an Israeli issue, and a global issue. America will have to learn from Israelis. Americans cherish their freedom of movement but the realities of radical Islamic terror will force Americans to have their bags checked by security guards at malls, at sports stadiums, at concert halls. Sorry to the High Priests of Political Correctness in government and academia—the practice of profiling will not be abused but will be an effective tool to stop terror. Fourteen dead in California, a home of the murderers described as a bomb-making factory—we can’t worry about stepping on people’s toes or offending them. This must end.
Americans—and American Jews in particular—must acknowledge that we are not living in a Golden Land anymore. We stride confidently with the chutzpah so lauded by Professor Alan Dershowitz. But an attitude is not body armor. There is no need for the President to declare Martial law. But let us wake up to the reality of a world of venom and violence. Jews should not hide. Jews in America should learn how to protect themselves. Chutzpah will not take down a fanatic driven by a theology that glorifies death, martyrdom and destruction of infidels.
We are living in denial. We don’t want to travel to Israel or live there because of “the current situation.” We all understand that Israel is located in a rough neighborhood. But from Paris to San Bernardino—it is the world that is rough and violent, not just the neighborhood of the Middle East. Radical Islam is a global threat. The failure to identify it and wipe it out for good in the name of mock civility will result in the end of a civilization. It will be our civilization. Yes, Paradise Lost. Welcome to the new America.