Early Friday, [JTA link here] two suspicious packages were intercepted by authorities in the United Kingdom and Dubai, working in close cooperation with U.S. officials. The packages originated in Yemen and purportedly contained explosive materials that were addressed to Jewish organizations in the Chicago area.
Later that day, numerous New York City Metropolitan area Jewish communal officials had been in contact and decided to urge their elected officials to dramatically increase security funding for Jewish institutions. They also asked congregants to contact their representatives to push this idea.
While these people may have been sincerely reacting to an immediate dramatic threat, there seems to be a bit of opportunism at play here. Naomi Klein's book, The Shock Doctrine, details instances like this where individuals, governments, and organizations take advantage of human-made or natural crisis to promote actions that will significantly advance their political, economic, and/or ideological plans.
Before these Jewish communal leaders and their congregants reflexively rush to their phones and computers to contact their ever-compliant representatives, a few thoughts might want to be considered:
1) Jewish communal organizations are already [link from the JTAhomeland-security-releases-new-funds-to-non-profits] the single largest recipients of U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants.
This past July, the DHS released $19 million to secure non-profits. 254 of the 271 insitutions awarded these grants were Jewish synagogues, schools, community centers, and offices.According to the Jewish Federations of North America, the monies went to blast-proof windows; reinforced doors, locks, gates, and fences; video surveillance; and other equipment and enhancements, as well as training.
2) The Jewish communal world already has its own successful security infrasturcture in place, and is not in need of any knee-jerk reactions.
Groups such as the Jewish Federations of North America, the Orthodox Union, and Agudath Israel are just a few of the Jewish communal and religious organizations actively lobbying congress for security grant dollars. There is, also, the [link to www.scnus.org Secure Community Network (SCN)], which provides rapid information sharing in crisis situations and enhances security awareness at Jewish organizations and institutions to protect against terrorism and other threats.The SCN is endorsed by the national leadership of the American Jewish community. [Countless organizations at the top of the organizational chart]
Additionally, the SCN states on its website:
The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established a high level liaison with SCN and recognizes SCN as a primary vehicle to facilitate sharing of information and policy protocols that impact Jewish communal security. These important official relationships enable SCN to access information and resources developed by DHS specifically for non-profit agencies.Furthermore, SCN is permitted access to non-classified information portals, public safety information, and emergency notification systems nationwide, reflecting the integrity of SCN and the trusted relationships SCN professional staff has established with national, state and local law enforcement agencies. These direct links add an important dimension and expanded access to information that will be shared with all organizations participating in SCN.
3) There may be a need for increased funding for other less politically powerful religious groups and organizations that are also threatened by existential and [link to Newsday piece] real acts of hate and terror:
Muslim leaders on Long Island said Tuesday that they are concerned about anti-Muslim bias after two recent bottle-throwing incidents at a Huntington mosque.For the second time in less than a week, detectives with Suffolk's hate crimes unit were called to the mosque on Monday night after a bottle containing nails and screws was smashed in the parking lot. Except for the type of bottle, the incident was "exactly the same" as an occurrence in the same spot last week, said Det. Sgt. Robert Reecks.--------------------------------------------------------Tuesday, a national Muslim civil liberties advocacy group urged beefed-up enforcement. "We urge local law enforcement authorities to step up patrols in the area of the mosque and again ask the FBI to add its resources to the investigation of these disturbing incidents," said Faiza Ali of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.Citing "a fine line" between extra patrols and creating the impression among mosque goers that they were being watched, Reecks declined to say if more officers would be assigned. "We will do due diligence," he said.
4) Consider using some good old-fashioned common sense. From the The Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago alert on Friday:
"The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago has alerted area synagogues not to open packages that appear suspicious due to the way they are wrapped, or which come from Yemen or from any organization that has the name 'Yemen' in it," it said. "Any institution that receives such a package is advised to call “911” and to evacuate the premises until law enforcement arrives."
If you work in a Jewish organization and you see a package that is suspiciously wrapped or a package coming from Yemen, you really don't need more DHS monies allotted for training to realize that you do not want to open the package and quickly call the police.
If people in the Jewish communal and/or religous worlds still feel the need to pick up the phone or get on the computer to contact their elected officials, they may want to suggest a real sure-fire cost-effective way to reduce the threat of terrorism and hate. They can ask these representatives to tell President Obama to force Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to get off his tuchas and sit down with representatives from Fatah and Hamas, without any of his recent preconditions, in order to find a way to create a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If the Prime Minister will not do this, then these members of Congress can start to take away from the 3 billion dollars that U.S. taxpayers give to Israel each year.