Let Jews Arm Themselves to Keep Their Synagogues Safe

Since 2018, there have been three violent attacks on worshippers at American synagogues; numerous others were attempted, threatened, or successfully foiled by law enforcement. Under these circumstances, Jewish communities have adopted various protective measures, including arming themselves. State laws in Maryland and New York, however, specifically prohibit carrying weapons in houses of prayer. Stuart Halpern and Tevi Troy argue against such regulations:

Legally speaking, the laws appear to violate the Second Amendment guarantee of the right to bear arms. Indeed, the New York law was challenged on that basis, and the Maryland law may face a legal challenge as well. But the laws could also be subject to a First Amendment challenge, as they could be seen as an unreasonable burden on the free exercise of religion. After all, if you can’t worship safely because of the threat of anti-Semitic violence, how can you be free to practice your religion?

Legalities aside, there is a larger problem here: these laws may be well-meaning, but the fact remains that, if enacted, potential victims will comply with the law, while their potential attackers won’t. As a result, the attackers will remain armed and dangerous, while potential protectors will be disarmed and limited to the run, hide, and fight directives of local synagogue security committees. These committees do great work, but they necessarily tell congregants, as a last resort, to throw a siddur (Jewish prayer book) at an attacker. A siddur, alas, is a poor substitute for a gun in a firefight.

The 3,000-year-old Jewish tradition has examined the tension between sanctity and safety in the synagogue. In the book of Exodus, the Almighty offers instructions for building a sacrificial altar—what would become a central component of the holy sanctuary. The Israelites are told that it is not to be made of hewn, or carved, stone. Using a sword—a weapon—in the construction of a ritual object, the Bible makes clear, would profane what is meant to be sanctified. Yet the Jewish tradition also recognizes instances of violence as necessary in defense of holy places. The book of Kings recounts how the rebellious Joab, after a failed coup, tries to avoid capture from King Solomon by grasping the sanctuary altar. Solomon ordered him executed there nonetheless.

Read more at City Journal

More about: American Jewry, Second Amendment, Synagogues, Terrorism

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy