Tuesday, May 01, 2007


The news story of a Jewish woman being attacked by anti-Semitic Muslims in a train station in Marseilles reminds us once again of the need for Jewish self-defense. Audrey Brachelle, whose mother is Israeli, told police that anti-Semitism came into play when the assailants noticed her necklace which bore a Jewish "chai" pendant. The attackers began hitting her, Brachelle said, then one of them drew a knife, slashed open her shirt and drew a swastika on her chest.
This incident brings to mind two incidents that happened to me. I was on my way to Cambridge in 1961 when I was accosted on a London bus by three anti-Semites, two women and a man. Without going into details, I stood up to them and the man and I were almost at the point of blows. I called on the bus conducter to stop the bus and call a policeman, but he refused. The rest of the passengers ignored what was going on. I still remember his parting words when they got off the bus at the Angel, Islington, "If I see you around here again Jew bastard, I'll kill you." I was very shaken by this incident and maybe it played arole in my decision to make aliyah.
The first significant development of Jewish self-defense took place in NY City in the 1960s when Meir Kahane established the Jewish Defense League. This became very religious/political in its orientation and lead eventually to Kahane being assassinated in one of the first Muslim attacks on US soil (the police downplayed this attack merely as a "crime").
When I was living in suburban Maryland I became the organizer of many student and Jewish community demonstrations. The student group I worked with was the Baltimore-Washington Union of Jewish Students (BWUJS) that I helped found. When I started organizing demonstrations and marches for the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington in 1970, I soon realized that we needed security, and I coopted some of the BWUJS students to help me. I also met a colleague who had started a Jewish youth martial arts program, called the Jewish Athletic Club (JAC), and some of his students participated.
A group of neo-Nazis from nearby Virginia showed up at our demonstrations. On one occasion some of our students attacked them. They were very surprised, were outnumbered and received a beating. One of our students had taught himself to use the nunchuk, a dangerous martial arts weapon, and used it very effectively. Also, the tires of their vehicles were slashed, and the DC police (most of them Black) did nothing to protect them. They ended up walking back to Virginia and never bothered us again.
What we need in every major city, London, Paris, Marseille, Berlin, etc., is a JAC group of young Jews trained in the martial arts, but with no specific religious or political affiliation, that will patrol certain areas as a group, and counter-attack any violent fascists, neo-Nazis, or liberal anti-Israel elements who let their concern for Palestinian human rights manifest as anti-Semitism. Their emblem could be a Magen David star inside a clenched fist. They should not be aggressive except as a counter to violence against Jews. The anti-Semites are cowards, they look for lone women or youths and Rabbis to beat up. Let them be afraid for once that someone they least suspect, and their friends, will be waiting for them.


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