A couple of weeks back someone passing the synagogue made a derogotry remark aimed at Jews. The responce to this was a member of the congragtion deciding to apprehend the person concerned and hand him over to the police.
While Church have 'welcomers' who's job it is to hand out hymn books and great people with a smile, the synagogue has a security team. Wearing ear pieces and carrying radios they watch monitor showing the various external CCTV cameras. They have devices for checking under cars for bombs, and they search new people coming to the synagogue.
The whole fear - to my mind uncalled for fear of assult which seems to be all dominating in Jewish communities is something i find fairly disturbing - as the saying goes their is nothing to fear but fear itself. The only problem is thats really not the case - their is a lot to be afraid of. As i have thought about this i have wondered why such a diffrence approach between Jeiwish and Christian communities. The answer may well be the Holocaust. That the scar that has been left so deeply on the Jewish community has left a mix of fear and defiance that has resulted in a kind of 'come and have a go if you think you are hard enough'. This is an approach which is the opposite of that found within Christian communities. While members of congregations are not easily identifiable as christians, vicars can be spoted at least when in 'uniform'. The responce to violene hasnt been to employ bouncers, but rather has continued to be a welcome to all.
Is the threat that is faced by the Jewish community more than that faced by the Christian community however? I suspected - having seen a few such incidents - that many of the logged anti-semetic incidents are not specifically anti-semetic. to clarify this - on occasions when walking down the street wearing a big hat some yobs have shouted out at me 'offensive comments including in the list of insults 'COWBOY', at other times people have shouted out a stirng of insults including the word JEW as an insult.
My hat isnt a Jewish hat - but the ignorent might see it and assume its Jewish - some assume its Armish. The point is that in both cases i have been insulted, was one of the people someone who hated jews and was insulting me because he belived i am jewish - or was he insulting me because i was wearing a big hat and he is a bit of an ideot? In the second case the comment can be logged and become part of official statistic on anti-semitism. So i thought that in the aid of this blog and my general thinking on the subject i would check it out - i looked for official statistics.
http://www.thecst.org.uk/docs/Incidents%20Report%202010.pdf contains a report on the reportd attacks on the jewish community in britian in the last year. 639 incidents. The report is detailed - and concerning. Reading it i thought - fair enough - caution is required.
I tried to then do a search on attacks on clergy or christians - and its hard to find figures. The national organisation churchwatch provides advice for churches on security - the advice is that its better to have churches open than closed. It encourages easy access and looks at how to minimise damage from vandels. I could only find figures for 2002, but the figures where:
6829 incidents, 2866 of criminal damage to churches, 3595 of their, and 186 of violance.
I am not sure how this relates as a % of attacks when compared to the number of jewish places of worship in the country - however - almost all vicars questioned report that they have been assulted verbally or physically.
I dont know how this has all left me feeling really. Is the Jewish community overly cautious, have we got the baracades up to high, and are we too ready for a fight, or is the responce proportial to the threat? Is the threat against Jews and Jewish places of worship great or less than against churches? In all honesty i just dont know - but maybe this should be on the agenda at interfaith meetings.