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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘SCN’

Iran Threat Hits Home

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

After the recent attacks on Israeli embassies in India and Georgia, Jewish institutions in the U.S. are asking a question that is much closer to home: Does Iran pose a local terror threat?

“Homeland security really starts as security in the neighborhood,” Paul Goldenberg, national director of the Jewish Federations of North America-affiliated Secure Community Network (SCN), told JointMedia News Service.

SCN, which partners with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and 56 major Jewish organizations, is asking Jewish organizations “to remain vigilant, to ensure that they have tested their [emergency management and response] plans,” and if they do not have plans, to develop them, Goldenberg said.

“It’s a matter of record that Jewish institutions in the Diaspora have been attacked by both proxies of Iran as well as other extremist and terrorist organizations,” he said.

While there is “no specific or imminent threat against the American-Jewish community” at this juncture, according to Goldenberg, he said does not mean “some lone wolf, some cell out there, is still plotting and planning, and law enforcement doesn’t know about it.”

Though he said an attack by Iran isn’t necessarily “likely,” the October 2011 assassination attempt on the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington suggests Iran is “not beyond setting its sights on targets within the U.S. homeland,” said Ilan Berman, vice president of the Washington-based American Foreign Policy Council.

“You’ve seen Iran strike Jewish targets in the Western hemisphere before” said Berman, citing bombings in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994. More recently, he said there has been “a significant shift in Iranian strategy in terms of its willingness to target the U.S. homeland.”

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that Jewish targets are the most likely targets, but they certainly should be part of the calculation as you think about an increasingly emboldened Iran that’s willing to strike out against targets in the U.S.”

In New York City, the New York Police Department continues to enhance both visible and hidden defense measures throughout the city’s diverse communities.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has affirmed his full support of the efforts of the NYPD to find and apprehend terrorists wherever they may be, in or out of “city limits,” using any surveillance measures necessary.

Close to 1,000 officers have been assigned to counterterrorism duties, working in the city and other locations. Police surveillance has taken place in mosques and at student activities. The NYPD has faced criticism of its operations, especially from the Muslim community, but Bloomberg has ardently defended the department, describing them its actions as “legal,” “appropriate” and “constitutional.”

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne said, “The NYPD adjusts its counterterrorism posture to include information about events overseas.”

The public may have noticed increased NYPD presence recently at Israeli government facilities and synagogues, he said, although there has been no specific threat in New York. The deputy commissioner praised citizen awareness, saying: “The public has been attentive as well, reporting suspicious packages.”

Although some police activities have been disparaged – with critics including the American Civil Liberties Union, scholars at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school, and Columbia University president Lee Bollinger – Bloomberg said the NYPD would continue to do “everything that the law permits us to do” to detect terrorists operating in the U.S. before they have a chance to act.

“We cannot slack in our vigilance,” the mayor said, adding that “the threat is real” and that it “is not going away.”

Jerome Hauer, New York State Commissioner for Homeland Security, discussed institutional security with 60 Jewish community leaders during a recent meeting at the headquarters of the Orthodox Union. Hauer’s “willingness to meet with the Jewish community signals his dedication to improving our community’s safety and security,” said Michael Cohen, the OU’s New York State Director of Political Affairs.

New York’s Division of Homeland Security provides information and funding to help identify safety concerns and enable “soft” targets (including schools and synagogues) to harden their perimeters and guard against potential threats, Cohen explained. The SCN’s Goldenberg said Jewish institutions should be training their staff and volunteers in security awareness, while being be very cognizant of suspicious activities and reporting them to local police. To that end, the SCN website (www.scnus.org) has an “Enter” section on its homepage providing free 24/7 online security training.

SCN’s online training is the “only one of its kind in the country,” Goldenberg said, and includes information on how to respond to an active shooter, security awareness, how to handle a suspicious package, and how to answer a bomb call.

The Jewish community “should not be panicked,” he said, but instead needs to “remain open for business.”

“We’re not stores,” Goldenberg said. “We’re places where people come to pray, people come to socialize, people come for social services from our community.”

“As long as the situation in the Mideast remains the way it does at this point,” he added, “we are asking our communities to remain very vigilant in how they are conducting business.”

After Bomb Attempt, Jewish Institutions Reexamine Security

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010


Jewish institutions throughout the United States are reassessing their security following last Friday’s mail bombing attempt of two Jewish institutions in Chicago.

 

On Tuesday, some 200 representatives of Jewish community institutions took part in a conference call with FBI experts on security measures.

 

“The situation with bombs this weekend certainly reminded us that all our institutions can be vulnerable to threats of this type,” said Bonnie Michelman, the community security chairwoman of the Anti-Defamation League, which organized the call.

 

Michelman, the security director at Massachusetts General Hospital, went on to outline specific signs that people should look for to identify suspicious packages.

 

The FBI announced Tuesday that no synagogues exist at the addresses on the two bomb packages but urged the need for continued community vigilance.

 

“Terrorists will continue and diversify their attacks,” a representative from the FBI’s Washington field office said during the conference call.

 

Senior leadership from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were set to begin holding teleconferences on the same topic with senior Jewish organizational leaders across the country beginning Wednesday afternoon.

 

Security experts are still trying to determine the actual targets of the two explosive-packed printer cartridges intercepted last Friday. It was unclear whether they were meant for the planes carrying the packages or the Jewish institutions to which the packages were addressed. U.S. authorities have refused to confirm the identities of the institutions targeted.

 

One of the packages was intercepted in Dubai and another in London. Al Qaeda is believed to be behind the two bombs.

 

After the bombs were discovered, a Homeland Security team arrived Sunday in Chicago, according to Paul Goldenberg, national director of the Secure Community Network, the national agency for Jewish communal security. SCN operates under the auspices of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

 

The Homeland Security representatives are contacting Chicago Jewish institutions for security training in conjunction with the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. SCN will notify other communities in advance of the Homeland Security calls, which will extend through the week.

 

“They’re providing training and resources to ensure the community feels safe and has the tools it needs,” Goldenberg said.

 

Of particular concern in this case, Goldenberg noted, is that the package bombs were addressed to American Jewish institutions, indicating that terrorists are treating them as proxies for Israel and thus legitimate targets.

 

“We don’t know when the bombs were intended to go off, but the fact remains they were going after American Jews, not Israeli consulates,” he said. “They targeted American synagogues. That was the message.”

 

Last Friday, SCN sent out two e-mail notifications to its national network outlining how to handle suspicious packages and alerting people to key addresses and other signs of a potential terrorist mail threat. The Orthodox Union and Union for Reform Judaism, both members of the SCN network, also sent out security alerts to their member congregations.

 

The SCN notification advised Jewish organizations to watch for large packages, particularly coming from abroad.

 

“Organizations that believe they have received a suspicious package should not open it, [should] evacuate the area and call 911 immediately,” it said.

 

Steve Sheinberg, who oversees the ADL’s Jewish community security program, said now that the first wave of emergency information has gone out, it’s time to regroup and engage in a careful, ongoing reassessment of each institution’s security measures.

 

“Our security messages are very measured,” he said. “Our goal is to inform, not panic. There is no need for panic. This is an occasion to look at security measures in place, make adjustments as necessary and move forward.”

 

In Chicago, Jews are calm but wary following the bomb threat.

 

“The schools are all being very vigilant, without getting everyone nervous,” said Rolly Cohen, education director of the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago. “They’re stepping things up a bit, making sure doors are locked, checking to see who’s there before opening them, putting security measures back in places they might have become more lax about.”

 

“The need to take security precautions is not new,” said JUF Executive Vice President Michael Kotzin, who praised national and local security agencies for their professionalism and alacrity in responding to this incident.

 

“This was a very traumatic example of that. There’s generally been a sense of calm, not fear and panic but a kind of resignation that we need to be alert – as Americans, and as Jews in particular.”

 

The Chicago federation and the ADL scheduled a security conference for Thursday in Chicago bringing together heads of local Jewish institutions with representatives of Homeland Security, the U.S. Postal Service and local law enforcement.

 

Comparing this week’s efforts to those following the shooting of six people at the Seattle Jewish federation three years ago, Goldenberg distinguished between the actions of “a lone wolf” like the Seattle shooter and the current situation.

 

“Now we are dealing with the potential of one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world targeting Jewish institutions,” he said.

 

Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation, an Orthodox synagogue in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, said operations at his synagogue “continued as usual” last Shabbat, although security was enhanced and worshipers were instructed to be extra vigilant.

 

“We had a bar mitzvah and no one was afraid to come to shul. I think it even drummed up business – one man told me his wife said, ‘You have to go to shul,” Lopatin said.

 

“You think Chicago is under the radar screen, then you realize no one is immune if you are a part of a community,” the rabbi added.


(JTA)

 

             (For detailed information on recommended security precautions, visit www.scnus.org or www.adl.org/security. The Chicago Jewish News contributed to this report.)

After Bomb Attempt, Jewish Institutions Reexamine Security

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Jewish institutions throughout the United States are reassessing their security following last Friday’s mail bombing attempt of two Jewish institutions in Chicago.

 

On Tuesday, some 200 representatives of Jewish community institutions took part in a conference call with FBI experts on security measures.

 

“The situation with bombs this weekend certainly reminded us that all our institutions can be vulnerable to threats of this type,” said Bonnie Michelman, the community security chairwoman of the Anti-Defamation League, which organized the call.

 

Michelman, the security director at Massachusetts General Hospital, went on to outline specific signs that people should look for to identify suspicious packages.

 

The FBI announced Tuesday that no synagogues exist at the addresses on the two bomb packages but urged the need for continued community vigilance.

 

“Terrorists will continue and diversify their attacks,” a representative from the FBI’s Washington field office said during the conference call.

 

Senior leadership from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were set to begin holding teleconferences on the same topic with senior Jewish organizational leaders across the country beginning Wednesday afternoon.

 

Security experts are still trying to determine the actual targets of the two explosive-packed printer cartridges intercepted last Friday. It was unclear whether they were meant for the planes carrying the packages or the Jewish institutions to which the packages were addressed. U.S. authorities have refused to confirm the identities of the institutions targeted.

 

One of the packages was intercepted in Dubai and another in London. Al Qaeda is believed to be behind the two bombs.

 

After the bombs were discovered, a Homeland Security team arrived Sunday in Chicago, according to Paul Goldenberg, national director of the Secure Community Network, the national agency for Jewish communal security. SCN operates under the auspices of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

 

The Homeland Security representatives are contacting Chicago Jewish institutions for security training in conjunction with the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. SCN will notify other communities in advance of the Homeland Security calls, which will extend through the week.

 

“They’re providing training and resources to ensure the community feels safe and has the tools it needs,” Goldenberg said.

 

Of particular concern in this case, Goldenberg noted, is that the package bombs were addressed to American Jewish institutions, indicating that terrorists are treating them as proxies for Israel and thus legitimate targets.

 

“We don’t know when the bombs were intended to go off, but the fact remains they were going after American Jews, not Israeli consulates,” he said. “They targeted American synagogues. That was the message.”

 

Last Friday, SCN sent out two e-mail notifications to its national network outlining how to handle suspicious packages and alerting people to key addresses and other signs of a potential terrorist mail threat. The Orthodox Union and Union for Reform Judaism, both members of the SCN network, also sent out security alerts to their member congregations.

 

The SCN notification advised Jewish organizations to watch for large packages, particularly coming from abroad.

 

“Organizations that believe they have received a suspicious package should not open it, [should] evacuate the area and call 911 immediately,” it said.

 

Steve Sheinberg, who oversees the ADL’s Jewish community security program, said now that the first wave of emergency information has gone out, it’s time to regroup and engage in a careful, ongoing reassessment of each institution’s security measures.

 

“Our security messages are very measured,” he said. “Our goal is to inform, not panic. There is no need for panic. This is an occasion to look at security measures in place, make adjustments as necessary and move forward.”

 

In Chicago, Jews are calm but wary following the bomb threat.

 

“The schools are all being very vigilant, without getting everyone nervous,” said Rolly Cohen, education director of the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago. “They’re stepping things up a bit, making sure doors are locked, checking to see who’s there before opening them, putting security measures back in places they might have become more lax about.”

 

“The need to take security precautions is not new,” said JUF Executive Vice President Michael Kotzin, who praised national and local security agencies for their professionalism and alacrity in responding to this incident.

 

“This was a very traumatic example of that. There’s generally been a sense of calm, not fear and panic but a kind of resignation that we need to be alert – as Americans, and as Jews in particular.”

 

The Chicago federation and the ADL scheduled a security conference for Thursday in Chicago bringing together heads of local Jewish institutions with representatives of Homeland Security, the U.S. Postal Service and local law enforcement.

 

Comparing this week’s efforts to those following the shooting of six people at the Seattle Jewish federation three years ago, Goldenberg distinguished between the actions of “a lone wolf” like the Seattle shooter and the current situation.

 

“Now we are dealing with the potential of one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world targeting Jewish institutions,” he said.

 

Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation, an Orthodox synagogue in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, said operations at his synagogue “continued as usual” last Shabbat, although security was enhanced and worshipers were instructed to be extra vigilant.

 

“We had a bar mitzvah and no one was afraid to come to shul. I think it even drummed up business – one man told me his wife said, ‘You have to go to shul,’” Lopatin said.

 

“You think Chicago is under the radar screen, then you realize no one is immune if you are a part of a community,” the rabbi added.

(JTA)

 

             (For detailed information on recommended security precautions, visit www.scnus.org or www.adl.org/security. The Chicago Jewish News contributed to this report.)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/after-bomb-attempt-jewish-institutions-reexamine-security/2010/11/03/

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