LETTERS
Moving to Israel isn’t the answer to the synagogue gunman

I SHARE the horror and sadness felt by your correspondent Keith Fairclough and others following the Pittsburgh attack.

But I disagree strongly with his suggested response.

He wants us all to begin planning to move to Israel.

But a Jew in Israel is far more likely to be killed for being Jewish than he is in America or the UK.

As Mr Fairclough and others aren’t shy in pointing out, hundreds of rockets are fired into Israel annually, and dozens of Jews have been killed over the years.

Israel is in constant peril.

There may well be reasons to move there, but safety isn’t one of them.

The UK and America remain safe for Jews relative to everywhere else on earth.

Having us move to Israel would also, of course, give our attackers exactly what they want.

The sensible response to antisemites who want to force Jews from their countries is not to leave of our own accord.

It’s to beat them. But we won’t beat them by doing what Mr Fairclough suggests.

He wants armed guards outside synagogues. But this Trumpian tactic doesn’t work.

More guns mean more gun deaths. That’s why in America there were more than 37,000 gun-related deaths last year. In the UK there were 60.

Of course, if an antisemitic maniac is shooting at us, we’d want to be able to stop him.

But the solution to this problem is to stop him before he shoots, rather than to arm ourselves, wait for him to attack us, and hope that only he dies in the subsequent hail of bullets.

Keeping us all safe is more complicated than buying bigger guns than the bad guys.

We don’t know much about the Pittsburgh gunman. But we do know that he wasn’t born antisemitic.

Like all terrorists, he was radicalised against the supposed threat of a supposed enemy, when in reality there is no such threat and no such enemy.

Charlatans and liars made him believe that the problems in his life were the fault of “others”. Jews have always been a convenient “other”, like Muslims and black people and immigrants and all persecuted minorities.

Our salvation lies in recognising that there is no such thing as the “other”. We are all humans.

Friendship, compromise and peaceful debate are the only way to solve our problems.

That includes compassion for those whose vulnerability and confusion leads them to commit atrocities.

And it also means rejecting those leaders who preach hatred and division, for it is they who are truly to blame for the rise in violence against us.

The populist demagogues do nothing but provoke violence and worsen problems.

One only has to look at the rise in hate crimes in America and Europe since 2016 to see that this is the case.

First, they came for the Muslims, and we did nothing. Some of us, to our community’s eternal shame, even cheered them on.

Then they came for the immigrants. And again we did nothing.

Now they’re coming for us.

As a minority group, we Jews will always be vulnerable to hate.

We must always be wise to it, and never be bought off.

It doesn’t matter how many embassies President Trump moves to Jerusalem — he is a white supremacist and he enables neo-Nazis.

People are now dead in a Pittsburgh shul because of it.

We need to wise up, stand up, and speak up, right now.

To stop Pittsburgh from happening again we must see the attack not just as the first antisemitic mass shooting, but as the latest in a long line of extremist attacks against all sorts of different minority groups.

We must join all the other victims and all those who oppose extremism and the politics of the alt-right.

We must come together with all decent people to renounce violence, renounce religious and nationalist conflict, and commit to a spirit of peace for all.

Richard Baum,
16 Golf Links Road,
Burnham-on-Sea,
Somerset.

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