JCRC Column: Securing Our Community

Radical, Islamic violent extremists are targeting Jews, worldwide. We see this in Jerusalem, Paris, Amsterdam, across Europe and even in the US. The propaganda disseminated by terror groups internationally is of the highest quality.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s latest online magazine preaches violent Jihad is the way of Islam. It encourages importing the “Knife Revolution” (whereby Palestinian terrorists have stabbed, car-rammed, exploded and shot scores of Israelis) to America. “It is the duty of each Muslim to spread this revolt to the throats of Americans in their very own homes… if any of you gets hold of a Jew anywhere, let him finish him off… A couple of dollars to buy a stiletto to kill a non-believer, a Jew inside of America or Europe!” It also teaches “Lone Mujahid (strugglers)” how to build various bombs to assassinate leaders in their homes.

The Islamic State (aka: ISIS, ISIL, D’aesh) is recruiting individuals in Europe and in the US. Many law-enforcement cases have been brought against them, including some in Virginia. These heinous efforts mean we are, more than ever before, responsible for being active partners with law-enforcement agencies to keep our Jewish community and the broader Richmond community safe. There’s a great deal we can do.

By no means do those extremists represent the majority or even a plurality of Muslims. Muslim terrorists do not tarnish Islam any more than radical, Jewish, violent, extremist-terrorists (think: Gush Emunim, Kach, Jewish Defense League, etc.) tarnish Judaism. Yet the threat from all extremism is very real.

We have a strong working relationship with the local Muslim Community leadership. Only months ago, Imam Ammar Amonette, of the Islamic Center in Bon Air, publicly denounced anti-Semitism. At the same event, multiple local rabbis spoke passionately against Islamophobia. Our relationship with their leadership is appropriately strong and empowered our communities to speak together against racism and xenophobia. It is a point of pride that our JCRC participated in that event.

Another part of my role as director of the JCRC is to act as the Security Coordinator for the Jewish community. In the past year, our community has increased security related awareness and activity. We have continued to engage with local and Federal law enforcement. Our JCRC has hosted and will continue to host closed door, Community Security Meetings, for synagogue and agency executives and security heads. And, the JCFR has issued several, one-time grants for addressing specific security needs within the Jewish community. All of this is good, important and timely.

Several months ago, I was invited to join the selective FBI Citizens’ Academy. I’m proud to say earlier this week, I joined the FBI Citizens’ Academy Alumni Association. The Academy gave me insight into the work of the FBI and how we can best partner with law enforcement for the greater good.

As I write this, there are no known threats specific to our community. Still, there are real, demonstrable attempts by international actors to inspire and enable attacks against Jewish communities all over the world.  

I write this to ensure we are addressing our security needs with open eyes. We are taking the right steps to secure our community. Your efforts can strengthen our safety and security. Please step forward and partner with us. I am eager to discuss how you can get involved within your synagogue and the various Jewish agencies in Richmond.

Contact me, Doni Fogel, director of Jewish Community Relations and Israel & Overseas Programming at dfogel@jewishrichmond.org or 804-545-8626.


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