Thursday, October 10, 2019

How We Won't Respond to the German Synagogue Shooting

As many of you already know, there was a synagogue shooting in Germany yesterday, during Yom Kippur (the holiest day of the Jewish calendar). The perpetrator live-streamed the attack on Twitch, and may also have targeted a neighboring kebab shop. Two died; more no doubt would have had the synagogue's doors not been locked.

The killer (who has been arrested) appears to be a far-right German extremist. As we endure yet another act of horrific violence in our holy places, it has become all the more imperative that we mobilize together to figure out how to stop this. What policies, what practices, what interventions can keep the Jewish community safe -- in Germany, in America, and around the world?

On that score, here are a few things we will not be considering -- and thankfully so:

  • We will not suggest that the solution lies in a complete and total shutdown on Germans entering the United States, or efforts to restrict German or European migration more broadly;
  • We will not suggest that this is the inevitable byproduct of Europe being "overrun" by European men;
  • We will not insist on crackdowns or government surveillance targeting White, European men writ large;
  • We will not -- despite a ton of history to draw upon -- suggest that attempted mass murders of Jews simply is the full and faithful expression of authentic German-ness, European-ness, or Christianity.
We understand that such inquiries are ludicrously overbroad -- and more than that, would interfere with the real political and social alterations necessary to tackle the sort of violent antisemitic extremism embodied in this attack.

That is a lesson. It is a lesson that goes hand in hand with taking seriously -- deadly seriously -- the ideologies and hatefulness that produces violent antisemitism, no matter where it comes from. Tackling these awful ideologies -- whether they arise from the left or the right, from Islam or Christianity or some mutant form of neo-paganism, from elites or from the disaffected -- can and must be done. Antisemitic or otherwise bigoted ideologies can stem from all these sources, and they cannot go unchallenged. Things have gotten too seriously to ignore them.

But let's be clear: doing it seriously means avoiding profoundly unserious modes of explanation or critique. Sweeping dismissals of entire cultural, religious, or ethnic groups? That's not serious. That is the act of someone who, fundamentally, does not take this threat seriously.

We all intuitively know that in the case of the Halle shooting. But it is a lesson worth internalizing across the board.

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