Two stories published on January 31 2012 came to my attention this week: “Safety at all costs” (The Age) and “The Jewish Press won’t be silenced” (The Jewish Press). After reading these stories it’s clear to me that the greater harm toward members of the Australian Jewish community comes not from outside it’s high security walls, but rather, from within.
The Age story talks about the tens of millions of dollars the Australian Jewish community spends on security each year and questions the merit of such a large investment:
… the inconvenient truth was that the Jewish community had not faced a terror attack in Australia for 30 years, since the Hakoah Club and Israeli consulate in Sydney were bombed on the same day.
The Jewish Press story, coming from a US-based perspective but nevertheless one that is transplantable to the local context, advises:
A significant number of suicide attempts are committed by boys from not just religious but rabbinic homes — because they thought they were homosexual and had no place in the Orthodox world they grew up in, even if they had never acted on those impulses.
If the Jewish community is serious about preventing harm to those within its ranks, which I believe it is, it should, as a matter of priority and urgency, rethink its approach to community security and how best it invests its millions of dollars. It should be addressing the real and alarming problem of youth suicide, ubiquitous amongst religious communities that are intolerant of homosexuality. Only then, when all traces of the harm have been eradicated, should the focus be placed on the less evident issues affecting the safety of the community.