Controlling One’s Impulses

Controlling One’s Impulses

Harold Kirtz discusses some of the top recent headlines and what they mean to Jews in Atlanta, and around the world.

“Who is mighty? One who conquers one’s impulses,” says Ben Zoma in the Talmudic book Mishnah Avot. This was highlighted in one of the siddurim used during the High Holy Days. Too many people are displaying their lack of impulse control. This is resulting in challenges to the Jewish community and the general community.

A 27-year-old German perpetrator tried to enter a German synagogue 100 miles outside of Berlin. Some 60 people were praying inside, but the gunman was apparently stopped by the security measures in place at the site. He could not open a locked door, and his homemade bomb did not succeed in opening it either.

The perpetrator wore a head-camera and was heard saying “Jews are at the root of all problems,” just before he went on the attack, which he broadcast live.

Storyful, a social-media intelligence company owned by News Corp., reported that the video was shared on far-right channels on instant messaging service Telegram. It appeared on a channel called “Racism Inc.” that regularly shares memes, tweets and videos that celebrate mass shootings, Storyful said. Versions of the video also appeared on Twitter and on forums such as 4chan and Kiwi Farms.

When he could not get into the synagogue, the suspect shot and killed a woman in the street and a man in a nearby kebab shop, presumably neither of them Jewish, and injured two other people. The police eventually caught him after a gun battle in which he was injured. The perpetrator’s camera also caught him saying, outside the kebab shop, “This will do.”

Chilling! Clear anti-Semitic bias and hatred. The result was a frightening incident for the Jewish community and the deaths of non-Jews, because of this anti-Jewish hatred.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent condolences to the victims’ families and his “wishes for a speedy recovery for the wounded.” He warned Wednesday night that the attack was “another manifestation that the anti-Semitism in Europe is increasing.”

He said, “I urge the German authorities to continue to act resolutely against the phenomenon of anti-Semitism.”

Israel’s U.N. ambassador Danny Danon called on the international community to “declare war on anti-Semitism and to act with determination to halt the epidemic of hate against world Jewry.”

In the last couple of days, Netanyahu has also taken a stand to help the Syrian Kurds, whom the U.S. administration has abandoned. The impulse of this U.S. president is creating even more havoc in a part of the world that has seen too much. The Kurds had assiduously allied themselves with the U.S. They had taken on the brunt of the on-the-ground fighting against the Islamic State. And their reward is to be abandoned and trivialized.

Has the president forgotten what the Islamic State has done to civilians in that area, including several captured Americans and other Westerners? Has he forgotten the vitriol that has flowed from the Islamic State against all Westerners – and against all Muslims who are non-supporters of ISIS?

He must learn to control his impulse to please autocratic leaders such as Turkey’s Erdogan and Russia’s Putin. It is getting the U.S. into greater trouble, both on the battlefield and in diplomatic circles. Will other allies, including Israel, continue to trust us?

The U.S. and the Jewish community are experiencing attacks that must be challenged and met in an effective manner. As a community, we must express ourselves to our elected leaders to encourage and challenge them to show more courage and resilience in the face of these anti-Semitic and anti-humanistic impulses. They must undertake a more ardent effort to marginalize both the right-wing extremists who would attack Jews and the Islamists who would attack Jews. And they are attacking not just Jews, but society at large. Their violent and bigoted actions must be confronted and defended against by all segments of society and by all elements of the political structure.

Politicians of all stripes and all administration officials must be visible in their words and deeds in confronting these extremists. We as members of the public must hold them accountable.

Harold Kirtz is president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta.

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