Provide comprehensive security to the Danish Jewish community now

My family and the entire American Jewish community stand with the Danish Jewish community in this time of crisis. We offer our deepest condolences to the families of Dan Uzan and Finn Nørgaard, who were both killed in the recent terrorist attacks in Copenhagen. Additionally, we wish a speedy recovery to the police officers injured in the line of duty.

Dan Uzan, the Jewish volunteer security guard killed in front of the Great Synagogue of Copenhagen in the attacks, was a member of the security detail the day my Danish wife and I married there in 2006. While I did not have a chance to meet Dan that day, I remember the safety and peace of mind he provided and will be forever grateful for that. The next Jewish couple that marries in Copenhagen deserves the right to celebrate without tragedy or worry.

We strongly appeal to the Danish government to provide its Jewish countrymen with a comprehensive security plan and protection given these attacks and the general vulnerability of the community. No one else can lose their life due to the lack of commitment to security which we saw in Copenhagen, not even 40 days after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris.

After the first attack killing Danish director Finn Nørgaard, at a gathering to discuss art and free speech, the response to protect the Synagogue was a total failure. Member of the Copenhagen City Council and former Chairman of the Jewish Community in Denmark, Finn Rudaizky, agreed. He said, “The Danish authorities should have taken the fundamentalist threat against Jewish targets far more seriously.” The key elements of this failure include:

A terrorist attack should have set off an automatic and pre-determined response from the Danish security services to protect Jewish citizens. Since this was not done, these plans must not yet exist. That response should not depend on the Jewish community calling and asking for protection for the Synagogue, which was seen after the first attack. This requires significant resources, experience, planning and training.

A terrorist attack should have set off an overwhelming security response that can repel and defeat a significant threat. Stationing a small number of security personnel in front of the Synagogue after the first attack, who were not able to protect Dan Uzan, and who struggled to just defend themselves, is impossible to understand.

A terrorist attack should have set off a mindset among all security services personnel to expect the unexpected. Allowing an unknown person who appeared intoxicated to approach Jewish citizens or buildings, as was done at the Synagogue after the first attack, is not expecting the unexpected. Although the Paris playbook was being carried out to the letter, complacency prevailed. Clearly, the most basic of training is needed on how to counter these threats.

The resources

While Denmark did recently allocate $150 million to bolster its police and intelligence services, these measures were planned as a reaction to the violence in Paris and were voted on before the attacks in Copenhagen. Therefore, the new funds do not address the full security needs of the Jewish community.

Allocating the money from the Danish State to protect the Jewish community has been a major problem in the past. But the money will either be spent on security for the Danish Jewish community, or for providing grief counseling for endless numbers, along with security and clean-up for vigils with 30,000 attendees, remembering those who should have been protected.

About the Author
Jon Bird lives in the New York City area with his wife and daughter.
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