This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
US Department of Homeland Security officials advised Jewish communities to initiate or review security maintenance in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.
Jewish agencies nationwide joined a conference call last week with Alejandro Mayorkas, the deputy secretary, and two other top officials, who briefed 500 to 600 Jewish lay and professional leaders. Mayorkas and his aides did not report any specific threat in the United States, but advised the communities on security maintenance.
Paul Goldenberg, Director of Secure Community Network (SCN), the security outlet for the national Jewish community, said that training organized by SCN, an arm of the Jewish Federations of North America, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, would incorporate findings from the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, where at least 130 people were killed.
Mayorkas explained how even when a primary target is not Jewish, the attackers may seek out Jewish targets in a secondary attack. He noted the attacks in Paris in January, where a satirical magazine that had mocked Islam was the first target; subsequently, attackers targeted a kosher supermarket.
Speakers on the call also reported findings from a recent trip to Israel, where Israeli officials briefed their U.S. counterparts on how to prepare civilian institutions for a terrorist attack. The aim of the trip was to examine Israeli methods of increasing public awareness of a security threat. Israeli officials briefed participants on terrorism, international threats and cybersecurity, among other issues.
The US is, obviously, not the only dangerous place for Jewish communities, now that the whole of Europe is on high alert. Synagogues across Sweden were closed down as a precautionary measure after Stockholm raised the country’s terror threat assessment level last week. France is no better, with officials having issued guidelines for Jewish communities, recommending that French Jews “break their routines” so as not to make easy targets.
“The events in Paris, with well-planned and coordinated attacks on innocent civilians at soft targets, highlight the importance of an approach which brings together community, security professionals and law enforcement,” said Goldenberg in a statement.