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Over the past two days, I have posted about the appropriateness of hate crime legislation and about people’s concern over anti-Semitism. Today’s shooting at Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Orthodox Synagogue in North Hollywood, in which two members were shot at close range, brings together both of those previous posts. And in what some might find surprising, does nothing to alter my previously stated views.
One commenter’s observation on my hate crimes post, that I would change my tune if someone spray-painted a swastika on a synagogue and suddenly embrace such legislation, is now demonstrably wrong. This is a whole lot worse than graffiti, and I still resist the rush to label this a hate crime, let alone prosecute it as such. And in this case LA Mayor Villaraigosa is with me.
Villaraigosa cautioned people to go slow and not make claims which cannot be substantiated. He is correct, as he is to have instructed the LAPD to post additional guards at Jewish institutions, just in case. Vigilance is always appropriate. Fear-mongering is not. If this was an act of terrorism, it should be prosecuted as such. But if it was simply an angry young man with a gun, it should be handled as the crime it was. Nothing more and nothing less.
Ironically, the ADL released a study today which shows that anti-Semitism is at an all time low. Barely 12% of those surveyed indicated any hostility to Jews simply because they are Jewish, or express any hostile stereotypes of Jews. In other words, let’s try and take “yes” for an answer – at least until we know otherwise.