The Toulouse massacre has hit Jews hard today, though perhaps none so hard as those who, like the kids and adults shot today, go to or work at or send their kids to Jewish day schools. If you live in the world of Jewish education, you’ve gotten used to conversations and briefings on security—what is being done to prevent violence, what will happen if God forbid there is violence, how to find your kids in the aftermath of violence.
Since 9/11, the possibility of staged attacks on Jewish institutions has been a consuming concern, and institutions with resources have spent enormous amounts of money on metal detectors and guards and “man-traps.” And with good reason; in 2006, Naveed Afzal Haq shot six people at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle while shouting “I am a Muslim-American.” One of the busted terrorist plots in recent years involved a planned assault on a JCC in Riverdale, one of the most Jewish neighborhoods in America, just north of Manhattan. One school I know, on an upper floor in a building, is literally locked off during the day; its elevators cannot stop on the floor and it is impossible to enter through the staircase.
What makes the Toulouse shooting so chilling, therefore, is that it circumvents many security efforts to some extent. It took place outside, not inside, and it was not a systematic attack but rather a spraying of bullets. It is, in other words, a crime that can be imitated. All it takes is a street, and kids, and parents, and maybe a yarmulke or two as a means of identifying targets.
Jews are being hunted.