According to news reports, a gunman shot at a café hosting controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has been threatened with death for his cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. He was scheduled to be part of a panel discussion on freedom of expression following the terror attacks in Paris. French ambassador Francois Zimeray was also in attendance. The gunman opened fire, killing a 55-year-old man and wounding three police officers.
Hours later, shots were fired at the main synagogue where a bat mitzvah celebration was being held. The gunman shot dead the Jewish guard, a community member in his 30s, and wounded two police officers.
Dan Rosenberg Asmussen, Copenhagen Jewish community leader, said that following the earlier attack, he had requested police presence at the synagogue, but police did not follow through. “We had contacted the police after the shooting at Café Krudttønden to have them present at the bat mitzvah, but unfortunately this happened anyway," Asmussen told Denmark's TV 2 News, as reported in The Guardian. “I dare not think about what would have happened if (the killer) had access to the congregation."
Danish police have shot and killed the man responsible for the two shootings.
This attack occurred a few days after the presidential gaffe where Obama seemed to remove the Jewish connection to the four Jewish victims murdered in the Paris kosher grocery store, by describing the attack by “a bunch of violent vicious zealots,” who “randomly shot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris,” and the subsequent defense by White House spokesman Josh Earnest and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki who had to finally backtrack on Twitter after receiving a storm of criticism. The Copenhagen terrorist attack is yet another reminder that Jews are being targeted and attacked just because they are Jews.
This is not a new phenomenon. In fact it is as old as the Jewish people. Why have the Jewish people been the subject of the world’s longest, most intense hatred?
The Talmud, not mincing any words, connects Jew hatred with the Jews. The Talmud (Shabbos 89b) says, using a play on words, that the moment God gave the Torah at Mount Sinai, hatred – sinah – of the non-Jews towards the Jewish people has been aroused. At Sinai the Jewish people became the bearers of God’s absolute standard of morality for all of humanity. Consequently, if someone wants to liberate himself from the all-encompassing moral demands and obligations delineated by the Torah, they attack the messenger – the Jews – who represent this Divine source of morality in this world.
Adolf Hitler, may his name be cursed, openly acknowledged the uniqueness of the Jews as a people and viewed National Socialism as a new world order, a way to create mankind anew.
Hitler said, “They refer to me as an uneducated barbarian. Yes we are barbarians. We want to be barbarians; it is an honored title to us. We shall rejuvenate the world. This world is near its end.” (Hermann Rauschning, Hitler Speaks pg. 87)
He recognized that the Jewish people – who carried the message of monotheism, and taught the world that all men are created equal and "love your neighbor" – were his primary obstacle for achieving his world vision. Hitler declared: “The struggle for world domination will be fought entirely between us ? between Germans and Jews. All else is facade and illusion. Behind England stands Israel, and behind France, and behind the United States. Even when we have driven the Jew out of Germany, he remains our world enemy.” (ibid, pg. 242) He said, “Providence has ordained that I should be the greatest liberator of humanity. I am freeing man from the restraints of an intelligence that has taken charge, from the dirty and degrading self-mortifications of a false vision known as conscience and morality, and from the demands of a freedom and personal independence which only a very few can bear.” (ibid. pg. 222)
Hitler understood full well the source of this conscience and morality. He said: “The Ten Commandments have lost their validity. Conscience is a Jewish invention; it is a blemish, like circumcision.” (ibid. pg. 220)
The traditional understanding of anti-Semitism has always been that Jews are hated, consciously or not, for representing the mission to perfect the world with the morality of Torah. Thus the anti-Semite’s hatred is the Jew's badge of honor. Do not de-judaize the victims. Realize that their hatred of the Jew represents something that should be a source of tremendous pride. Yes I am Jew, part of nation who has changed the moral fabric of humanity, who stands for Torah values that contain timeless wisdom the world so badly needs.
Tragically, millions of Jews are not aware of their unique mission and responsibility. Anti-Semitic attacks, like the ones in Paris and Copenhagen, make them wonder if being Jewish is worth it if it carries such an enormous downside. In the absence of a deep understanding and appreciation of what it means to be Jewish, it is a reasonable question. Let us hope that as a nation we take heed of the latest wakeup call by strengthening our own appreciation of the gift of being Jewish and reaching out to our Jewish brothers and sisters across the globe with the meaning and relevance of their Jewish heritage.