U.S. Jewry is in a “dangerous place in history,” former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said in an interview, and he recommended that the heavy security measures in place for European synagogues be adopted by Jewish houses of worship in the U.S.
He warned that dark times lie ahead for U.S. Jewry — in New York in particular — especially in light of a loss of respect for police officers and massive budget cuts to the police force.
Kelly, who currently heads the Anti-Semitism Accountability Project (ASAP), said that Jewish communities need to be “much more aware about who is entering community premises.”
Kelly visited ten countries in Europe to explore how antisemitism was being manifested and in what ways it was combated.
“Antisemitism there is not new. Neo-Nazis have never gone away, and populism is helping them flex their muscles,” the Jerusalem Post cited Kelly as saying in an interview with Jewish educational group, Limmud FSU.
He noted that in France, for example, antisemitism exists on the left, with support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel as well as on the Muslim right. He noted that the French principle of laïcité – or secularism – means that the government is often slow to recognize the religious rights of minorities while at the same time French people can walk around with openly antisemitic slogans on their t-shirts without consequence.
Antisemitism in the U.S., however, is more difficult to identify, Kelly said.
“Antisemitic groups hang out on the net – only 20% of which is registered, with the antisemitic activities taking place on the dark web,” Kelly said.
Kelly urged Jewish leaders to implement stronger security measures in community buildings, including synagogues. He noted an attack last Yom Kippur in the German town of Halle in which the gunman was unable to enter a synagogue due to the security in place, and as a result, the lives of 68 Jewish worshipers inside were saved. The gunman, however, did fatally shoot two bystanders.
Kelly contrasted that attack with the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting a year earlier, in which 11 Jewish worshipers were killed after a gunman waltzed into the synagogue and opened fire.