Toulouse Tragedy: Learning the Lessons

23 Mar 2012 by CST

Today's Jewish Telegraph contains the following opinion piece from CST: 

 Toulouse Tragedy: Learning the Lessons

As we try to come to terms with the dreadful shootings in Toulouse, we look to make some sense of what has happened and what lessons can be learned. In asking this, we also try to balance the overwhelmingly positive daily reality of our Jewish lives, with the reality of the terrorist threat.

It is, in a sense, impossible to understand what has happened. How can normal people ever understand the cold-blooded murders of innocent children? Worse, the more details you know of the actual shootings, the harder they are to comprehend.

Despite our disgust at the barbarity and the pain it causes: there are lessons for us all to learn. Indeed, since we cannot undo what has happened, it feels like learning the lessons becomes a moral responsibility, as well as a deeply practical one.

As a community, we are reminded again of the need for security, and why we need a genuine partnership between the police, Community Security Trust (CST) and all of our community’s members, be they Jewish individuals or communal organisations. CST is a charity that is part and parcel of our whole community; and it is everybody’s support and cooperation that enables CST to do our work.

The Toulouse shootings force upon all of us the harsh reality of what ‘terrorism’ looks and feels like, yet we know that these threats exist. That is precisely why our community has already ensured that security and policing mechanisms are in place; and it is why the Government already funds security guards at state aided Jewish schools. Our working partnerships with police are exceptional and constantly evolving. 

Toulouse also proves (once again) the difficulty of trying to read a terrorist’s mind. First, the killer was allegedly a neo-Nazi, now he is pro Al Qaeda. There is no comfort in the clarification. Both types are vicious antisemites and both types exist here in Britain. We have probably all thought, “oh, this is just a small local community, nobody would bother attacking us”, but Toulouse is a small community and the school is even smaller. Unfortunately, the notion that “it could never happen here” is shown to be wishful thinking.

Finally, there should be a determination to keep calm. Be alert, but don’t be panicked: whether you are volunteering for CST, waving your children off to school, or attending synagogue. Please, let your enduring lesson be to appreciate what you have; and to keep leading the Jewish life of your choice. 


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“I never stop being amazed at the professional, selfless and totally dedicated commitment shown by the CST staff and volunteers. Our community is indebted to CST for the comprehensive protection the organisation provides, which sadly is so very necessary at this time.”

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth