Jewish groups react: Gun control, security funding, extremism


The National Council for Jewish Women offered arguably the most politically provacative response from a Jewish organization to Wednesday’s shooting, raising the gun-control issue and invoking the recent killing of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller:

“The shooting today at the US Holocaust Museum is a dreadful reminder of the poisonous connection between hate and gun violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of murdered security officer Stephen Johns.

“Following so soon after the murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in his church during Sunday services, this latest attack cries out not only for condemnation by public officials, but a commitment to do everything in their power to prevent such incidents from multiplying including common-sense gun regulations. Yesterday, Dr. Tiller’s clinic was closed for good, a result that pleased anti-choice extremists. Today, people visiting a museum that bears witness to the ultimate result of untrammeled hate have been targeted.

“Violence of any kind is abhorrent. Hate violence seeks to not only wound or kill its target, but to intimidate and terrify the larger community. If the Dr. Tillers of this world are not safe, if the Holocaust Museum just blocks from the White House is not safe, then none of us is safe. We must proceed with vigilance and expediency to address all forms of hate, violence and intolerance in our country.”

The United Jewish Communities/ Jewish Federations of North America asserted that the incident underscored the need for federal security-funding grants for nonprofit organiztions:

… Such violence underscores the need for UJC/Jewish Federations of North America to continue supporting security for Jewish Federations and other institutions at heightened risk of threats. UJC was one of the first organizations seeking the creation of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) support for non-profit institutions at increased risk of attacks and has helped secure more than $55 million in grants for Jewish Federations and other communal institutions to improve physical security, preparedness planning, and training. …

UJC began advocating for the creation and funding of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program six years ago, which has become the only federal program designed specifically to address security at non-profits deemed at heightened risk of terrorist attacks.

"Since 9/11, UJC has diligently worked with the federal government to point out potential threats against the Jewish community and to work to arm Federations, synagogues, and community centers with the resources they need to improve their security infrastructure," said William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy & Director of the Washington Office of UJC/Jewish Federations of North America.

"Congress has consistently supported the Non-Profit Security Grant Program. As they begin drafting this year’s appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security, we strongly encourage their consideration of these latest outbursts in violence as proof of the need to increase funding to protect vulnerable populations from attack." …

Here’s what other Jewish organizations are saying:

  • Abe Foxman (director, ADL): … Brunn’s evil attack, at the very place that was created to remember and teach about evil in the world, is an immediate reminder that words of hate matter, that we can never afford to ignore hate because words of hate can easily become acts of hate, no matter the place, no matter the age of the hatemonger. We express our support to the family of the victim of the attack. We recommit ourselves to expose and counter hatred in our society so that horrible events such as the shooting at the Holocaust Museum will no longer be a part of the fabric of our democracy.
  • David Harris (executive director, American Jewish Committee): “Even though such heinous ideas remain marginal in our country, today’s tragic event is a reminder of the need to both remain vigilant and teach the value of tolerance."
  • Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper (dean and associate dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center): "The  attack that took place at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington by James von Brunn, a self-identified anti-Semite, white supremacist, and hater of African-Americans shows that the cancer of hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism is alive and well in America."
  • Eric Yoffie (president, Union for Reform Judaism): "That today’s shooting at the United States Holocaust Museum should take place at a site expressly created to teach the world about the destruction and devastation brought about by human evil deepens the resonance of this terrible act."
  • Jeremy Ben-Ami (executive director, J Street): We are shocked and outraged at the brutal attack perpetrated against the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC and what it represents. Yesterday’s attack is a tragic reminder of the need to combat all forms of anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, racism, and bigotry. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this despicable act of hatred and violence.  We also commend the security guards who acted quickly to prevent further bloodshed, especially Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns, whose sacrifice and courage will not be forgotten.

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