When my daughter asked me last night why there were so many helicopters flying over our home, I told her there was probably an accident on the expressway closest to our house. I left out the possibility that they were hovering over a nearby portion of the Hudson River into which someone may have fallen, but that was about as bad a thing as I could imagine.
About an hour later, the local news informed me that terrorists had attempted to blow up two synagogues, blocks from my house. And you know what; it’s really not that big a deal. At least it’s not as big a deal as either my fellow Beliefnet blogger, Rod Dreher, or many Jewish organizations would have us believe. If anything, this is a story about the efficacy of both local and federal agencies doing their jobs and keeping Americans safe.

This is certainly not the “horror” that some groups are labeling it. The horror would have been if they had succeeded and people were killed or injured. But in this case, there was not even any damage to property! So let’s keep things in perspective and not stir the pot of moral outrage anymore than is necessary.
Yes, there are real security challenges which we face both as Americans and as Jews, challenges which are bigger and more serious than they were some years back, and we must be vigilant about them. But especially as Jews, we are a whole lot safer than we were a generation or two back, even here in America and for that fact not to balance the fear created by this FAILED ATTEMPT, is inappropriate.

For Rod to suggest that political correctness drives the New York Times to “bury the lead” by not telling us in its headlines that the terrorists are Muslims is a little over the top as well. After all, which is more important, knowing what happened and how, or the religious ideology which may have had a role in shaping those actions?
I am no apologist for radical Islam. And the comments to my post about “The Third Jiahd” indicate that at least some readers think I actually an Islamophobe. But it seems to me if those who see Islamic terror everywhere and those who see it nowhere are equally annoyed, then I have it just about right. While there is certainly plenty of skittishness about seriously exploring the linkage between some people’s Muslim identity and the hatred and violence which define both their thinking and behavior, it’s actually not clear in this case how central the issue was.

The FBI tried for months to link these guys to some larger network of terrorists or to some specific religious community, as well they should have. But they ultimately failed to find any such linkages, which should make us happy. I hope that they keep doing their jobs and that they keep arresting those who conspire to harm others in the name of any tradition. I also hope that Muslim leaders address the challenge of people using Islam, more than any other faith tradition right now, to rationalize their violent behavior. At the end of the day, we should be careful about making both less, or more, of this event than it was.
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