Jews Are Not at War With Islam. But Jihadi Terrorists Have Declared War on Jews Worldwide

I don't see how we can draw any other conclusion. Whether we call them jihadis or Muslim extremists, terrorists claiming to represent Islam have now specifically targeted Jews and/or Jewish institutions too many times to ignore the pattern -- from the slayings of three Jewish children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, to the killing of four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum, to the four people shot dead in a kosher supermarket in Paris as part of a plan that included the murderous attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices, to the killing yesterday in Copenhagen of 37-year-old Dan Uzan, killed guarding a synagogue while a Bat Mitzvah ceremony went on inside. His killer had previously left one dead after shooting up a well-advertised seminar on free speech given by Lars Vilks, who had published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

I want to make something else very clear: The title of this post has two equally important parts. Just because jihadis are murdering Jews, that does not mean that Islam or Muslims as a whole are at war with Jews, nor does it mean that Jews are or should be at war with Islam. Over and over and over, Muslim leaders and religious figures have condemned these killings. That last link includes 45 different denunciations of the Charlie Hebdo attack. The first link includes this on the killings in Toulouse:

"These acts are in total contradiction with the foundations of this religion," said the head of the French Muslim Council, Mohammed Moussaoui. "France's Muslims are offended by this claim of belonging to this religion."

So this is not about Islam versus Jews. However, we have now reached a point where every Jew, everywhere in the world may feel targeted by jihadi terrorists. Every synagogue, every Jewish museum, every kosher supermarket, every place that is identifiably Jewish is now a potential bullseye.

We have to ask ourselves what it means that Jews worldwide have become targets in this way. We also have to ask ourselves what we are going to do about it as a society. As for me, I'm furious. I'm also scared for myself and my family, and get extra careful and aware when we're in or near someplace Jewish. I often then get furious that I have to be scared and extra careful. Lest we forget, the goal of terrorists is to strike terror in its target audience.

Given the role of extremist preachers and even Muslim governments like Saudi Arabia in spreading the hatred that radicalizes would-be jihadis, I do believe that Muslim leaders and institutions have a responsibility to preach tolerance toward Jews (and all people), as well as to teach members of their community that while criticism of Israeli government policy is legitimate, hatred of Israelis and/or Jews as people is not. I also believe that leaders in every community, whether religious or otherwise, have a parallel responsibility to teach and preach tolerance. Right now, given recent events, it is clear that Muslim leaders have a particular responsibility regarding anti-Jewish hatred. We need their help, and I am hopeful that we can work together to defeat it.