France Shooting Is Attack on All Jews, Say U.S., European Jewish Groups

New York City police ramp security at synagogues and other Jewish institutions citywide.

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Jewish organizations in Europe and the United States issued statements Monday to condemn the shooting attack in Toulouse, offer solidarity to the French Jewish community and encourage authorities to do everything in their power to promptly hunt down the perpetrator and bring him to justice. Many of the organizations described the shootings as an attack on all Jews, and encouraged bolstered security at Jewish institutions worldwide.

The statements issued by the Jewish organizations followed a shooting Monday morning in the southern French city of Toulouse, which killed Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, two of his sons and a young girl.

Policemen at work in front of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, southwestern France, on March 19, 2012. Credit: AFP

The CEO and president of the Jewish Federations of North America, Jerry Silverman, said in a statement, “Words cannot describe the shock and outrage - and deep mourning - that result from a terror attack that is specifically directed at children. We have long known that Jews can be targets of vicious attacks wherever they are in the world. And it is clear, that even today, in 2012, that statement remains true."

Describing Monday's shooting as "an attack on all of us", and the targeting of children as "particularly sick and vile", the president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, called upon Jews in all countries to "stand shoulder to shoulder with French Jewry" as they "do everything in their power to quickly hunt down the perpetrator of this horrible crime and bring him to justice."

Richard Stone, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents called upon French law enforcement "to do everything to apprehend those responsible for this attack as well as anyone who aids and abets these heinous acts."

“This horrific act is indicative of a society where intolerance is allowed to fester," said the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt in a statement. “There is today an urgent need to ensure that appropriate security measures are put in place at all Jewish institutions in Europe to ensure that the safety of Jews on this continent is not placed in jeopardy," he added.

"This is a brazen assault on France and French society," said American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris. "Our prayers are with the grieving school community, as we hope for the full recovery of those injured."

Harris invited the French authorities to review security at Jewish institutions, as did the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, who reminded synagogues and schools "to be in contact with their local law enforcement authorities, maintain their vigilance and review their security procedures." The Orthodox Union said it would continue to work with federal, state and local homeland security agencies to ensure the security of the Jewish community.

Noting that it was still unclear to what extent anti-Semitism motivated Monday's attack, the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement that it is "critically important that the Jewish community in France feel assured that they will be safe and secure in the aftermath of this horrific incident". The ADL welcomed the announcement that security will be intensified at Jewish institutions throughout France.

B'neit B'rith International President Allan Jacobs said in a statement that the future of the Jewish community is dependent upon nurturing the Jewish identity of its young people. "We are confident that this cowardly act will serve to strengthen the commitment of the French Jewish community toward that goal,” he said.

New York City police tighten security at Jewish sites

Later on Monday, New York police announced that they had ramped security at synagogues and other Jewish institutions citywide, following the deadly attack in Toulouse.

The tightened surveillance and increased patrols at more than 40 locations came in response to the Toulouse attack and unspecified "events abroad," said Paul Browne, spokesman for the New York Police Department.

"Although there is no known specific threat against New York City, the NYPD has taken the precaution of stepping up coverage of Jewish neighborhoods and institutions in the city," Browne said in a statement.

"The NYPD's counter-terrorism posture is informed by events abroad, including the fatal attack on the Jewish school in Toulouse today," he said.

New York, home to more than 1.4 million Jews, has the largest Jewish population of any metropolitan area outside of Israel, said Levi Fishman, spokesman UJA-Federation of New York.

Following attacks abroad, the New York police typically reinforce security at corresponding locations such as hotels or the mass transit system.



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