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Jewish American communities need the right to defend themselves

Jewish communities need to protect themselves from a metastasizing, growing anti-Semitism in America that “progressive” politicians are failing to fight.
Ari Hoffman Seattle, WA

I was never a gun person. I didn’t want them in my house because I have curious kids, but I was fine with others having firearms. Until recently, I was content with my Louisville Slugger next to my nightstand.

Crime in Seattle has gotten so bad that we brought armed guards to Jewish cemeteries to protect children and veterans placing flags for the fallen on Memorial Day. Drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, substance abusers and others, have been desecrating the grounds on a nightly basis.

Armed guards are nothing new to Jews. They are present at synagogues, schools and community events. Unfortunately, because of our religious beliefs, we are always a target. The observant Jewish community enjoys a close connection with law enforcement. At the beginning of the year, 90,000 Jews attended an event called Siyum Hashas at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey celebrating the completion of the 7.5 year cycle of learning the Talmud. The police captain in charge of security called Rabbi Yosef Chaim Golding, CEO of the event, confirming that there were zero incidents at the event, but also that “…his ‘troopers have worked millions of events, but they NEVER felt so appreciated as they felt yesterday”.

This event coincided with a string of anti Semitic attacks in New York and New Jersey. The suspects, who had priors on their records, were arrested, some quickly released and subsequently re-arrested for committing new crimes, thanks to New York’s new bail reform.

According to the New York Post: “The legislation requires arraignment judges to set free suspects in any non-sexual assault that doesn’t actually cause a physical injury, even in cases of hate crime attacks. The no-injury loophole will mean a quick get-out-of-jail-free card for all but one of the accused attackers in the eight Hanukkah-timed, anti-Semitic bias crimes that have terrified the city’s Orthodox communities.”

These kind of “reforms” have been in action in Seattle for several years under a program called Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD): While I would love to use their own words to tell you what they do, their King County Website says: “The Seattle-King County LEAD website is currently being revamped and will be shortly updated and relaunched.”

What LEAD claims it does is divert people who don’t belong in jail, to other programs to transition them back into society. This program has won awards and been cited as something to expand and replicate across the country.

When LEAD asked to meet with me last year to explain their operations, the director could not answer my basic questions about the program. How many people are in the program? How many people were back as contributing members of society? How many people returned to crime? No answers were given or available for these very simple questions. I have run several non profits and I knew every stat about each organization backwards and forwards.

The visuals on the streets of Seattle do not match LEAD’s claims of success. Almost every day there is another story of an attack, including on tourists and businesses. Business groups were so fed up that they commissioned System Failure: Report on Prolific Offenders in Seattle’s Criminal Justice System. The report showcases 100 Prolific offenders with multiple arrests, one as many as 74, who are continuously released. These offenders account for a large portion of the crime in downtown Seattle. Since the report was published, the majority of the “Prolific Offenders” have continued to cycle through Seattle’s “revolving door” justice system. LEAD funding has been put on hold by the Mayor pending a review by an outside consultant on the effectiveness of the program.

The report reminded me of the “Squeegee Men” who terrorized New York during the 1980s. These people were your first impression of New York when coming off the highway, as they started cleaning your windshield and would get violent if you told them “no”. It seemed as if there were thousands of them, but when NYPD started cracking down, it was discovered that there were only a few hundred Squeegee Men, who usually had criminal records. Under the Giuliani and Bloomberg mayoral administrations, the Squeegee Men were taken off the streets. Now under the DeBlasio Administration, they have made a comeback. Just like Seattle has seen a major spike in crime and boasts a property crime rate two-and-a-half times Los Angeles and four Times New York. “Progressive” politicians are making the problem worse and our cities more dangerous.

Peter Weyand, broke into a girls dorm at Yeshiva University in Manhattan and began setting fires in the building. According to the New York Post “he was released without bail following his arrest—only to be sprung again when he was allegedly caught trespassing on Staten Island hours later. He was also busted and let go after allegedly menacing a Brooklyn housemate on Dec. 5—sharpening a knife outside their door while calling out, ‘Here, piggy, piggy, piggy!’ according to police.”

When there is a failure of government to protect its own citizens, citizens will take their safety into their own hands. According to the Washington Examiner, Gun permit applications surged nearly 1,000 percent in New York’s Jewish community since the 13 anti-Semitic attacks in December.

When I ran for Seattle City Council, my family received multiple death threats. Strange phone calls. Doxxing of my home and office. As far as I know, I was the only candidate for Seattle City Council out of 57, who needed security guards. Ring doorbells and baseball bats were not going to cut it. My 12-year-old son asked if he could have a knife to protect his family from the people that were trying to kill us.

Ironically, the threats against my family came from believers of an ideology that is against gun ownership. I continue to receive threats, especially from Antifa who claim to be anti-fascist and are anything but, even though the campaign had been over for months. My family and I were being targeted because we are Jewish not because of my politics. Extremist actions like these, against an individual who does not have strong feelings on an issue, will cause a person to be more supportive of an ideology they don’t identify with because that is who is advocating for them.

When I hear about attacks with a body count on a religious institution, I always assume there were no members “carrying”. This is the new normal for Jewish life in America. I am troubled by the new legislation targeting legal gun owners in Washington and Virginia. None of the legislation they are proposing will do anything to make Jews or Non Jews safer. New York and New Jersey have some of the most stringent gun laws in the country, and that did not stop determined attackers. Meanwhile, Jews who want to protect themselves, have a very difficult time applying for firearms permits because of these laws. As long as people are intent on killing us, and “progressive” politicians continue to put us at risk, we need the ability to protect ourselves.

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Ari Hoffman
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