As the dust settles over the hostage-taking incident at a Colleyville, Texas synagogue, we can give thanks that all four hostages are safe and the hostage-taker is dead. The FBI Hostage Rescue Team and local Texas police did an outstanding job.
Not so outstanding was the performance of the FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge, Matthew DeSarno. As is usually the case when a high-profile case arises, the local top cops handle the press conferences. DeSarno’s comments have raised the ire of many in the Jewish community with his statement that the singular motivation of the gunman, Malik Faisal Akram, was to demand the freedom of convicted terrorist, Aafia Siddiqui, and that it was not specifically related to the Jewish community. (I am paraphrasing.) The FBI suits in Washington have hastened to correct that statement in the face of what was so obvious and the angry reaction.
I noted in watching the video of DeSarno’s statement that he was uncomfortable while making the statement in answer to a question from the press, as evidenced by the rapid blinking of his eyes. Was it his intent to deliberately lie? Was he trying to follow a politically-correct script directed by FBI Hqs? I would like to give DeSarno the benefit of the doubt in handling a sensitive aspect of this case. It may just be that he was struggling to deal with a sensitive subject and unintentionally misstated the facts.
At any rate, while Akram may have been trying to secure the release of Siddiqui, the fact remains that he chose a synagogue. He could have chosen a 7-11 or a Starbucks, but he didn’t; he chose a synagogue. Was he looking for a site near the Fort Worth prison where Siddiqui was being held and also near the Dallas-Fort Worth Airpot? Perhaps, he was envisioning a takeoff from the airport with Siddiqui in tow. The fact remains, however, that Akram chose a synagogue in the area. That fact cannot be explained away by DeSarno, CAIR, or anybody else. While the Jewish community has nothing to do with Siddiqui’s incarceration, it was clearly a target. Why? That leads us into a discussion of the intense Jew-hatred that is embedded in Islamic teaching. Obviously, Agent DeSarno had no wish to discuss that with the media.
But the real disservice in DeSarno’s statement is that telling the Jewish community that it was not under threat is a disservice to their safety. Nothing to see here? Sorry, but there is much to see here. This is very much in line with the unwillingness of European politicians, police, and press to identify Muslim perpetrators when they target Jews or Christians for attack. Who wants a public that is oblivious to the threat they face?
The sad fact is that our Jewish community is under threat, and their synagogues, schools, and institutions must be protected. It is also time for many misguided Jewish leaders and their organizations to admit that the biggest threat is coming from Islamic quarters. Do all Muslims worldwide hate Jews? No. And yes, the Pittsburgh and Poway attacks were not committed by Muslims, but that doesn’t change the fact that Islamic anti-Semitism is real. Instead of engaging in inter-faith events with local imams, many of whom say one thing to their Jewish and Christian counterparts while saying something else to their congregations, these leaders should be speaking out and demanding that their Islamic imam counterparts stop making disparaging remarks about other faiths in their sermons.
It is true that, historically, Jews have been attacked from every direction. Hate is hate, and it must be exposed and countered no matter who the guilty parties are. The truth is all of our communities need to take a look in the mirror when it comes to Jew-hatred. Nobody should be excused from criticism.