Friday, March 02, 2018

After the recent horrific school shooting in Florida I have been watching my American friends debate the issue of gun control.
It is amazing what an enormous chasm there is between Israel and America when it comes to guns.
From Israel it looks to me like Americans are shouting at each other, no one is listening to the other and, worst of all, the real issues that need to be discussed are being ignored.
School safety
It doesn’t matter what side you are on regarding the issue of gun control, we all want our kids to come home safe from school. Even imagining the experience of parents who’ve had their children ripped from them in such senseless violence is gut-wrenchingly terrible beyond words. The trauma for the children involved is a burden no child should have to endure. The problem is so excruciating it is no wonder that many are crying out, “Something has to be done!”
The question is: What?
Take all the guns away? Commonsense gun laws? Lockdown the schools and make everyone who enters go through metal detectors? Train and arm teachers so they can protect students?
I’ve seen this meme (right) floating around the internet. One of my friends actually asked me if this was an accurate depiction. I was glad he took the time to check because this is an example of using half-truths to promote an utter lie.
Israeli teachers are not armed. They are certainly not trained and armed by the State. There are no guns inside Israeli schools.
There are security guards at the entrance to Israeli schools.
On field trips out of the city kids go with one trained armed person who could be a teacher or parent and one medic.
The main point that everyone seems to be ignoring is that, in Israel, we need guns to protect our kids from terrorists, not from each other. This to me seems to be the real issue. Why are American kids killing each other?
Instead of focusing on the kids themselves, the issue being discussed is guns or gun violence. But what about violence in general? What about safety? We know that people hell-bent on murder find ways to do it. If there is no gun, there is a knife, or a bomb, or a car. Guns can save lives and they can take lives. The deciding factor is the person holding the weapon.
Israeli attitudes are a world apart from what I am seeing in America.
In Israel gun control is very strict and most Israelis are against easy access to guns. Israelis tend to be dumbfounded by American attitude towards guns – we see guns as necessary tools to be used to defend lives, nothing else. They are not toys for collecting or weekend entertainment and hunting is not considered a sport or cool.
When it comes to security there is actual safety and there is the feeling of safety. The two are not the same. It makes people feel safe to implement visible preventative measures, such as metal detectors. These can be useful deterrents to someone considering committing a crime however this type of measure, on its own, does not actually prevent the crime. There is always a “technology race” between the criminally minded and security enforcement in the search for ways to circumvent the measures implemented.
Actual security necessitates dealing with the source of the problem, not the symptom. Not the gun, knife, bomb or car – it is the person using these tools for evil that needs to be stopped.
When it comes to the issue of school shootings, I again ask – why are American kids shooting each other? I don’t see how any child in American schools will be safe until that question is answered.
I’m utterly horrified to discover that the hashtag #NeverAgain is being used by groups in the USA advocating for restrictions on the Second Amendment.
Conflating, gun violence with the Holocaust degrades the enormity of the Holocaust. Were there no other words to choose from? #NotOneMore? #StopGuns? #ProtectOurKids? Why were those or other options not chosen?
This is a real, live, example of rhetoric that is truly dangerous. This is what Antisemitism looks like.
The easy use of terminology that is known to be associated with one thing and one thing only is a minimization and a cheapening of the Holocaust. This ultimately leads to denial of the Holocaust.
But who will stand against it?
I hope and pray that no Jewish organizations, no matter where they stand on American gun laws will adopt this improper and deeply offensive use of Never Again. All other decent people should as well. From experience I know that I am certain to be disappointed. There will be Jews who see the impropriety of this language and will be afraid to speak up for fear of triggering a different, even more vicious antisemitic attack. Others will be so wrapped up in the politics of the here and now that they will feel that achieving the goal justifies any means, forgetting/ignoring the long-term results that will ensue. 
For those who like to talk about dangerous and inflammatory language – this is a perfect example. Using this language enables the normalization of Holocaust denial, Jew hate and violence against Jews.
Or does that not matter? After all, violence against Jews, with guns or other means, would not be categorized as “senseless violence.” That is violence with a purpose.
Not to speak is to speak. #NeverAgainIsNow

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