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Sunday, April 11, 2004

Antisemitism's Return

"Jews in the United States are being targeted for
by Gabriel Schoenfeld at JewishPress.com

Over the past several years, I have watched as ever tighter security restrictions have been put in place in and around the building where I work in New York City.

First came a redesign of the main entranceway to add a “man-trap,” two bullet- and explosion-proof glass and steel doors that form a chamber through which all visitors must pass.

Next came the installation of “Jersey barriers,” heavy concrete emplacements on the sidewalk that form a perimeter through which a truck- or car-bomber cannot easily penetrate.

Then the windows of the building were laminated with a special plastic designed to keep glass from shattering in a blast. An electronic “sniffing” device was placed in the lobby to screen incoming mail for explosives. Video surveillance cameras were installed on the exterior of the building, and a professional security firm with uniformed guards was hired to monitor the cameras and to inspect the personal possessions of visitors. For a period of time, the New York City police department assigned a patrolman to guard the building’s front door.

The building is headquarters of a national Jewish organization. One block away from it is a large and beautiful synagogue, the oldest Jewish house of worship in continuous use in the city. This Moorish-style landmark is also now surrounded by Jersey barriers, and congregants attending services on Saturdays and holidays are guarded by the police. The same is true of a great many synagogues and Jewish institutions across the New York area, across the United States, and around
the world.

In my office building, as at my synagogue, we have rapidly grown accustomed to the new security regime; when the subject is discussed at all, our remarks are usually attended by resignation or dark mirth. In the face of terrorists willing to fly hijacked jet aircraft into skyscrapers, what genuine protection, one wonders, can heightened security actually provide?

But as I have watched the building harden itself against attack, I have also felt an increasing sense of dismay and anger, even fury. As recently as five years ago, such measures would have been as unnecessary as they were inconceivable. Now they are ubiquitous. The plain fact is that something unprecedented is taking place: Jews in the United States are being targeted for murder. How did we reach this pass, and how did we come to accept it so blithely?

Continue reading . . .
Gabriel Schoenfeld is Senior Editor of Commentary. His new book, The Return of Anti-Semitism, can be ordered by calling Encounter Books at the company`s toll-free number, 1-800-786-3839, or through its website, www.encounterbooks.com.