The Jews have always been a lightning rod for the world’s ills, perceived or otherwise. The more antisemitic acts multiply, the more politicians should be concerned about their ability to govern. Terrorism abounds when society weakens.
The latest antisemitic terrorist incident in Colleyville, Texas, highlights the trend to target synagogues above all other sites by the depraved of the world.
The FBI’s hostage task force should be complemented for their miraculous rescue of four Jewish hostages and the elimination of Malik Faisal Akram after an 11-hour standoff.
Why and how this man got into the United States rather easily as a British citizen two weeks ago will be analyzed and reviewed. Hopefully, it will not happen again.
Special Agent Matthew DeSarno sized up the dangerous operation: “It is very likely this situation would have ended very badly early on in the day had we not had professional, consistent negotiation with the subject.”
The rabbi of the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, said in the last hour of the crisis that the assailant became “increasingly belligerent and threatening.”
He also said, “I am thankful and filled with appreciation for all the vigils, and prayers, and love and support to all of the law enforcement and first responders who cared for us, all the security training that helped save us.”
All’s well that ends well, but the majority of the attacks against Jewish targets, primarily synagogues in America, have not been so fortunate. I decided to look more closely at the long list of terrorist incidents against Jewish sites since 2000.
2000 - Armed attack against Temple Beth El in Syracuse, NY. It was designated a hate crime. The perpetrator claimed “Palestinian” descent.
2000 - Firebombing of Adath Israel of Riverdale by a group of “Palestinian” Americans
2002 - LAX shooting attack on El Al, when Hesham Mohamed Hadayat opened fire at the ticket counter. Two were killed and four wounded.
2002 - Temple Beth Israel in Eugene, Oregon, by white separatists
2003 - Molotov cocktail thrown through a window at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California
2005 - Failed bomb plot by Muslims against an LA synagogue
2006 - Seattle Jewish Federation shooting committed by Naveed Afzal Haq
2009 - US Holocaust Memorial shooting
2009 - Bomb plot to target Riverdale Temple and nearby Riverdale Jewish Center
2011 - Manhattan terrorism plot to bomb a synagogue
2014 - Overland Park Jewish Community Center shooting by a Neo-Nazi
2016 - Ohio restaurant machete attack. Islamic man attacked a Middle Eastern restaurant displaying an Israeli flag
2018 - Pittsburgh synagogue shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue. 11 were killed, 6 wounded. Assailant Robert Gregory Bowers
2018 - LA synagogue attack. Mohammed Abdi Mohamed tried ramming two Jews leaving the synagogue with his vehicle.
2019 - Chabad of Poway, California, shooting on the last day of Passover. One woman killed, three injured by assailant John Timothy Earnest.
2019 - Failed bomb plot of the Temple Emanuel Synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado
2019 - Jersey City shooting by David Anderson and Francine Graham at a kosher supermarket, killing three. A Jersey City detective was murdered by the pair at a cemetery prior to the supermarket attack.
2019 - A member of a synagogue in North Miami Beach was shot multiple times in the legs as he was opening the front doors of the synagogue.
2019 - Monsey Chanukah stabbing. Five people stabbed at the home of a rabbi, which was used as a synagogue.
2021 - Attempted forced entry at a Bal Harbour synagogue by an Arabic-speaking man with a package.
As the above list indicates, the main target of terrorists in the past 22 years in America have been Jewish establishments, primarily synagogues.
America has done a fine job of protecting targets like Times Square, the subway system, and other “hard” targets, including airliners and museums, but Jewish community centers and synagogues are not yet protected adequately. This must once and for all be made a priority.
The lesson of Colleyville, Texas, is that unless every synagogue in America receives the necessary security, these incidents unfortunately will continue.
Dr. Joe Frager is Chairman of the Israel Advocacy Commission for the Rabbinical Alliance of America; Chairman of the Executive Committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim; Dean at Kollel Ayshel Avraham; Executive Vice President of the Israel Heritage Foundation; and a physician in practice for 41 years.