Guns and Jews

I've never had that much respect for the Wackenhut security company before. I've seen it operate in several countries, and it is not staffed, generally speaking, by the most enthusiastic, go-getter types. But Wackenhut certainly performed well yesterday, at a tragic cost. The guards responded to Von Brunn just as they should have, and shot him immediately without hurting a single bystander. If the guards had not been armed, the Holocaust Museum would have been the scene of a massacre.

I think the Jewish community should take this as a lesson, in particular those institutions that are only "protected" by unarmed guards. You can't fight a rifle or a shotgun with a stick, or a whistle, or good intentions. Only armed guards are at all capable of stopping an attack. American Jews -- and this is broad generalization here -- are queasy around weapons. This queasiness is rooted in our urban and suburban existence. But one of the lessons of the Holocaust to me -- I said this in my book, Prisoners, to some criticism -- is that it is more difficult to kill an armed Jew than an unarmed Jew. I'd rather see Jews guard Jewish institutions than non- Jews, because it's our responsibility to defend ourselves (that's my vestigial labor Zionist ideology speaking), but if JCCs and synagogues and Jewish museums don't want to pay extra for Israeli guards, than at least they should hire well-trained and armed protection. Wackenhut would do quite nicely, it seems.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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