After the Pittsburgh Massacre

The single most murderous attack against Jews in US history took place recently when 11 members of Tree of Life (Etz Hayim) congregation were murdered by a gunman.  I already suggested a way in which positive vetting of people entering a synagogue can be implemented at limited cost (see IsBlog, Security at Synagogues, Oct 29).   I also now suggest using facial recognition software with cameras outside shools.

These cameras and the software are now state-of-the art and will cost much less than an armed guard all the time.  They can be programmed to check faces against a library of shool members and frequent visitors.  If a unfamiliar face presents itself outside, an internal silent alarm can be triggered and the person can be challenged.  By doing so, if he has a gun, that might buy some time.  Also the software is sophisticated enough to scan his body and check to see if he is carrying arms, such as a gun.  The shooter in Pittsburgh had several guns with him and they would have definitely been detected by such a system. Then a loud general alarm would  be triggered and congregants should be practised in leaving the building in the most efficient way.  It should always be established that exit door are unlocked and are accessible.

[The following was included in a letter to the Editor of The Jerusalem Post published 7/11/18]

People tend to forget that Zionism was not only an ideology about establishing a Jewish State, it was also about building a new Jew, prepared to defend himself, throwing off the passivity and dependency of past generations.

When I lived near Washington DC many years ago, Jewish demonstrations and marches were constantly being harassed by the Neo-Nazis who had their headquarters in Arlington VA. We organized a group of Jewish college youth from the area and when we learnt that a group was coming to disrupt one of our marches, we prepared for them.

We watched where they parked, and when they left we slashed their tires.  When they approached our march, we were prepared and we attacked them. The police were unable to intervene until they actually caused harm, we were not prepared to wait for that. We responded in self-defense.  So unexpected was our prepared defense that they were routed, and then they had to walk all the way home.  They never came back. Our survival is in our own hands.