High praise and gratitude are due Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and the NYPD’s intelligence Division for their extraordinary work in again uncovering and preventing a plot by Muslim fanatics to unleash terror against religious targets.
In just the latest such episode against New York City, two Muslim extremists were caught on wiretap surveillance planning to massacre Jewish worshipers at a city synagogue.
Despite the death of Osama bin Laden, it is obvious that Islamic extremism is alive and well and continues to pose a clear and present danger to Christians, Jews and, especially, Muslims. Denying this truth, for purposes of political correctness or otherwise, is naïve, shortsighted and, ultimately, negligent.
Time and again, Islamic extremism has been the motivating factor behind actual and attempted murders and maiming of Americans as well as Europeans, Russians, Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghanis.
Despite heated and intense opposition, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY) courageously held hearings several weeks ago on this sensitive issue. It was only as a result of base partisanship and political theatrics that Congressman King’s hearings were prevented from exposing American’s to the harsh realities of Islamist ideology.
At the time, certain misguided Jewish clergy publicly chastised King’s hearings as “un-American” or “McCarthy-like.” Unfortunately, last week’s arrests proved King’s point – and, it must be asked, where are the critics who challenged the necessity of the hearings? Where are the clergy whose synagogues may well have been targeted? Where are the tears of Rep. Keith Ellison and others who still inexplicably refuse to acknowledge and act upon the immediate threats facing all Americans?
It is becoming ever clearer that New York City continues to be a top terrorist target and that New York’s Jewish community and religious institutions are in the cross hairs of Islamic extremists.
Our community is an identifiable target and more vulnerable to attack than ever. While city public schools are assigned hundreds of full time police and security officers, not one school safety officer is posted to any of the hundreds of private schools in New York City. With thousands of Jewish children attending New York City yeshivas and day schools, don’t our kids deserve equal protection from the obvious threats against us?
While remaining vigilant we also must press our elected officials to increase, not slash, sorely needed security grants and police protection for our schools, synagogues and communal institutions. Government’s most fundamental responsibility is to keep its citizens safe, and that requires an acceptance and an acknowledgment that this country is under attack by a radicalized enemy.
Reducing the deficit cannot come at the risk of letting our guard down. Congress must resist the temptation to politicize Homeland Security funding and direct more, not less, funding to those facing the highest risk.
Additionally, as parts of the Patriot Act come up for reauthorization again, both Congress and the president must put the American people first and give police and Federal agencies every possible weapon to protect us – and that includes profiling, if necessary.
As threats of retribution increase in the wake of bin Laden’s death, the importance of rooting out and preventing terrorism – before tragedy strikes – must be our nation’s highest priority. If we cave to political correctness in the face of such overwhelming and undeniable evidence, the terrorists win.
Chaskel Bennett is a writer, education advocate and community activist.