Tuesday, January 19, 2021 -
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‘Workplace violence’

Workplace violence affects all peoples, nationalities, ethnicities and religions.

An example of workplace violence in the Jewish community: the incident of Feb. 25, 1994. That was the day when a Jewish physician, obviously distraught by having to treat so many victims of gunshot wounds, entered the venerable Cave of the Patriarchs in the Jewish and Palestinian city of Hebron with a gun. He opened fire, killing 29 Arabs at prayer and wounding another 125. He was beaten to death by survivors of his workplace shooting.

Goldstein, as we say, was a physician, trained at the medical school of Yeshiva University, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He was a graduate of the Yeshiva of Flatbush. He had emigrated from the US to Israel in 1983 and was a follower of Rabbi Meir Kahane. He was an observant Jew.

It all goes to show how difficult working conditions — treating victim after victim of gunshot wounds — can send a person over the edge.

It is, of course, a matter of deep concern to the Jewish community that the community not be identified with, seen as the context of, or in any other way responsible for the actions of Dr. Baruch Goldstein. There must be no unfair backlash against Judaism or the Jewish community. Goldstein’s massacre shows how workplace violence can arise among any religion or ethnicity.

Clearly, it is a matter of extraordinary, retrospective regret that Goldstein did not get the mental health services he deeply needed.

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This exculpatory parody of an obvious case of religious hatred highlights the absurdity of the authorities and headline writers whose default explanation of the mass shootings in San Bernardino, California was “workplace violence.”

Baruch Goldstein was a Jewish terrorist with a religious agenda. The immediate response of the Jewish community worldwide to his evil act was grief and condemnation. How different all this stacks up against the immediate response to the shootings in California.

For example, the day after the shootings, NPR interviewed a Muslim leader in southern California and asked for his response. This was it: He began by citing the “apprehension” of the Muslim community in the aftermath of the shooting. Then he caught himself. He backed up. He said to this effect: But first we share in the grief. Then he went on at great length to identify three apprehensions in the Muslim community after the murders by individuals with Muslim names.

His agenda was the opposite of the Jewish agenda in the aftermath of the Goldstein shooting: To face the truth. To admit the truth. The truth is that something was deeply wrong with some practitioners of Judaism — Goldstein and his sympathizers —and with some brand of Judaism.

Yet, in the aftermath of the San Bernardino shootings, every imaginable basis for calling this mass shooting an act of “workplace violence” was explored by every imaginable pundit. The truth had to be shielded: another case of Muslims killing innocents. Another case of Islamic terrorism. That a workplace grievance may have figured into the motivation of the murderers should raise this question: Why is it that grievances of radicalized Muslims need to be settled by murder?

To  be sure, murder as a political statement is contagious, as recent incidents only too painfully demonstrate (think Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs). But there is no way around seeing Baruch Goldstein as having been principally motivated by his religion, however disturbed he may have been by treating Jewish victims of terrorism. There is no way around seeing Muslims who engage in murdering innocents around the world as principally motivated by their religion.

In the immediate aftermath of the San Bernardino shootings, authorities did not “rule out” terrorism. That is to say, their default position of workplace violence mirrore the diversionary reaction of the NPR interviewee: Reshape the agenda.

Well, the agenda is not how the average citizen, in the aftermath of a mass shooting by Muslims, may be leery of Muslims who do not first grieve for the dead, instead engaging in self-pleading. The agenda is: How do we name this type of incident promptly and accurately, and how do we stop it. The answers are clear: The name is Islamic terrorism. The prevention is the reform of the radicalized version of Islam and stricter background checks for the purchase of weapons.

Here is how not to stop it: fall for the third apprehension of the NPR interviewee. He said to this effect: There may be unfair backlash against the Muslim community. And worse: If, because of the San Bernardino shootings, citizens view Muslims wrongly, this may increase the number of Muslim radicals. In other words, to tell is truth is to increase Muslims shooters — it’s America’s fault! Let the interviewee accept responsibility and  reform radical Islam internally.

Here is also how not to stop it: Give another speech, as President Obama did, promising the destruction of ISIS. He gave that same speech 14 months ago, and now, like then, does virtually nothing — a ludicrously small number of sorties; and 50 special ops. This would be pathetic if it weren’t so dangerous to the American people. San Bernardino is evidence of the failure of Obama’s “strategy.”

Copyright © 2015 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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