The spike in hate crimes has opened the debate over the use of guns for self-defense among the American Jewish community. “We live in a time of danger,” stated the US official for combating anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, in a recent conference in Jerusalem. He suggested to post security guards at every Jewish temple, community center and school in America. A rabbi in Boston backs this view and proposes that his members carry guns to the synagogue for protection. Others are already taking firearms training. It is better to be safe than sorry, but these are band-aid solutions to a problem that can only be solved from another level: through Jewish unity.
The deadly attacks in Pittsburgh and Poway, California prompted to reinforce security measures at Jewish facilities in the US. Incidents against the Jewish community increased 57 percent from 2016 to 2017, the highest in 20 years and the largest single-year rise in history, according to the Anti-Defamation League. And even though white supremacists are responsible for recent attacks and threats to synagogues, terrorism and violence inspired by Islamist extremism “continues to pose a serious threat to Americans,” says a recent report by the anti-Semitism watchdog group. It states that as June, three people have been arrested for plotting Islamist terrorist attacks including Jewish targets.
The uneasy feeling and menace facing Jews in America are, in fact, a wake up call to reflect on our state as a nation and follow what the Torah mandates to us: to connect by the principle of “love your neighbor as yourself,” and radiate that positive force to the rest of the world. If we fail to do that, non-Jews perceive our disunity as the cause of their problems, putting pressure on us through violent acts. Therefore, until we unite above our differences, anti-Semitism only will get worse. Arming ourselves will simply give us a false and empty sense of security.
We currently do not realize how humanity’s unity depends on Jewish unity. Both are deeply interrelated, as Jews have a central role in the world’s wellbeing. As it is written in the “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” “Israel refers to the inner part of the world, whereas other nations are considered its outer part.” That central role of Jews is also explained in that seminal text as “a man of Israel elevates his outer material part over the inner, spiritual one, the outer part (the coarse and harmful elements in the nations of the world) accordingly rises over the inner part (the righteous among the nations of the world) and calamities and wars befall the world.”
Therefore, unity should be our priority. By getting closer to each other, narrowing the huge gap that currently separates us, we will become an example to humanity. The power of unity will make any form of hatred against Jews vanish. It is not only the strongest weapon—it is the only weapon that can guarantee peace and safety.
Featured in The Times of Israel