U.S. antisemitism envoy: Armed guards needed at synagogues, Jewish centers

"I don't care what ideological clothing it wears, Jew hatred is Jew hatred, we need to fight it and oppose it," says Elan Carr in Jerusalem.

June 19, 2019 18:33
4 minute read.
U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism, Elan Carr is interviewed by the Jerusa

U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism, Elan Carr is interviewed by the Jerusalem Post Editor in Chief Yaakov Katz at the GC4I conference in Jerusalem. (photo credit: MIRI SHIMONOVICH/GPO)


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Elan Carr, the US special envoy for monitoring and combating antisemitism, said in Jerusalem on Wednesday that armed guards should be posted at every synagogue, Jewish school and Jewish community center (JCC) across the United States.

Carr, interviewed on stage at the Global Coalition 4 Israel Conference by Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz, said such a move was an unfortunate but necessary step.

“We live in a time of danger,” Carr said. “Any synagogue, every JCC, should have guards. God willing, may they never be needed, but they should be there.”

Carr was appointed to the position by US President Donald Trump earlier this year, after the post had been empty since Trump took office in 2017.  Carr told the gathered audience of Jewish professionals and lay leaders that the president is fully committed to 
fighting antisemitism in the US and abroad. 

"The rhetoric of the president couldn't be clearer," Carr said Wednesday. "Every time the president speaks on this issue, 
he calls [antisemitism] a vile poison that must be rooted out." 

Carr said Trump has explicitly stated that “if you go after the Jews, we’re coming after you... he means it, and Vice President [Mike] Pence couldn’t be clearer – and [National Security Adviser] John Bolton couldn’t be clearer.”

The special envoy said that the threat of antisemitism in the United States and the world comes from both a “pathological, ethnic, supremacist Right” and “an anti-Zionist Left,” which are both dangerous.

“We need to make this fight a joint, bipartisan fight,” Carr said. “All decent people – Jewish and not Jewish – need to do it together. I don’t care what ideological clothing it wears: Jew hatred is Jew hatred – we need to fight it and oppose it, and that’s got to be the message.”

Carr, who called the BDS movement unequivocally antisemitic, said one of the most worrying trends in the US was playing out on college campuses.

“It’s worse than you might think,” he said. “It is unvarnished, naked antisemitism, directed against Jewish and pro-Israel students – and what is particularly dangerous is that it is working.”

Discussing the rise of antisemitism across Europe, Carr said that he is in constant talks with governments and officials throughout the continent.

“The message has gone out that not only do I care about this, Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo – my boss – cares about this, and his boss cares about this... we make specific focused requests of our allies around the world to deal with issues in those countries,” Carr continued. “We use the bully pulpit of the United States to seek to implement change.”

He cited as wins, the recent 
German Bundestag vote to declare BDS antisemitic, and Poland dropping legislation "that said we're not paying a penny" in wartime reparations. 

Still, Carr wasn't idealistic about problems plaguing many European nations today. 

"Are they whitewashing their history; are they resurrecting war criminals and paying homage to them? We had those discussions," he said. "I told them it was unacceptable to happen... I'm hopeful we can improve things in these countries." 

Carr said that since taking office in February, "the single most disturbing meeting" he had was with a British Labour MP who walked out of the 
party over its systemic antisemitic issues

"She said this disaster we have in England, all started on the campuses," Carr recalled. "And we did nothing, because they were just students. And then it moved into the Labour Party, and we did nothing because it was just the left-wing fringe. And today they won, we lost, and I no longer have a political party." 

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