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Why Are American Jews So Anti-Gun?
Jewish Daily Forward ^ | 3/20/08 | Eric King

Posted on 03/22/2008 9:19:30 AM PDT by kiriath_jearim

With the Supreme Court opening this week the first extensive examination of the constitutional right to bear arms in nearly 70 years, now seems a pretty good time to ask a question that’s been perplexing me for nearly as long: Why is that American Jews are so overwhelmingly anti-gun?

I’ve been stumped by this communal aversion to firearms ever since I was a 6 year old, back in 1947. While flipping through old Life magazines one day in my grandparents’ living room in the Bronx, I came across photographs taken at the liberation of concentration camps. I saw the pictures of bodies stacked like cordwood, and was stunned.

“Mommy, why are all those people dead?” I asked.

My mother, a brilliant and subtle woman, thought for a moment and said, “The bad Germans called Nazis killed them.” To which, of course, I asked, “Why did the Nazis kill them?”

“They killed them because they were Jews,” she replied.

Although I was only 6 and not yet sure of my identity or its meaning, I asked, “We’re Jews, aren’t we?”

“Yes,” answered my mother.

“Mommy,” I asked, without missing a beat, “do you and Daddy have a gun so we can protect ourselves if the Nazis come for us?”

“This is America,” my mother reassured me. “That can’t happen here.”

All across America little Jewish boys and girls got the same answer, and pretty much all of them accepted it. That answer, though, didn’t satisfy me — and to this day I wonder how it is that Jews in America, despite no small amount of antisemitism, have so strongly devoted themselves to the belief that “it” couldn’t happen here.

During the 1960s I encountered Holocaust survivors who told me that just as American Jews felt secure from genocide, German Jews had felt similarly secure before the Nazis’ rise to power. The average Jew in Berlin during the mid-1920s would have thought you were crazy if you had said it was possible that within 20 years most European Jews would be systematically exterminated by the German government,

So that there is no misunderstanding, let me be completely clear: I have never felt, and do not now, that there is some imminent likelihood of genocide against Jews — or, for that matter, any other group — in America. I just never saw the wisdom of assuming that 50 years from now, or even 20, this couldn’t change.

I also never saw the wisdom in going out of my way to avoid protecting myself. Most of my fellow American Jews, though, have been doing just that — and what’s more, fighting to prevent others from arming themselves. As best as I can tell, this American Jewish aversion to firearms has its origins back in the Eastern Europe of yesteryear, where a centuries-long history of difficult experiences gave rise to what is best described as the “shtetl mentality.”

A great many American Jews had great-grandparents who originally came from shtetls or ghettos in Europe. One of the major hazards of living in another people’s country was that occasionally a few Cossacks would get drunk, ride over to the nearest shtetl, rape a few women, maybe murder a man who protested rather than begging for his life, and then ride off into the sunset.

It had to be inescapably clear to these Jews that dozens of able-bodied and sober men would surely have been a match for eight or 10 drunk Cossacks. It would have been easy, even for Jews not trained in arms, to kill the Cossacks and bury them someplace.

It is obvious, though, why they did not: Had they had done so, swarms of Cossacks would have massacred every Jew in every shtetl within 100 versts. Defense was just not an option.

The women raped and the men murdered were seen as the price Jews paid for surviving as a people. Since no Jew likely considered the possibility that without some major provocation the Cossacks would someday try to kill them all, it seemed like a reasonable, if awful, compromise.

Such a compromise must have taken a devastating and horrific psychological toll on the people forced to make it. In order to maintain self-respect, people in such a condition had to explain it as the result of something that made them better than their oppressors. This was the notion that they voluntarily — rather than of necessity, as was actually the case — eschewed the use of weapons because they understood that violence was evil, while their tormentors did not. It was the key to survival, and to self-respect.

Today’s American Jews, despite being far removed from the shtetl, still carry this shtetl mentality with them, despite the fact that it has long since lost its utility. American Jews are overwhelmingly in favor of gun bans, and are disproportionately represented in the leadership positions of the movement to ban private ownership of firearms.

This shtetl mentality is tellingly absent among Israelis, and another look back at history helps explain why.

Many American Jews are the direct descendants of immigrants who left the ghettos and shtetls with the shtetl mentality intact and came to the United States between 1885 and 1925. They raised their children, who in turn raised their children, to believe that all weapons were wrong because all violence was wrong — even though the conditions in America were different, the horrible compromise of Europe was behind them, and their survival and self-respect no longer depended on a willingness to defenselessly sit by while members of the community were raped and murdered.

The Jews who remained in Europe, on the other hand, were confronted by the Holocaust. The ones who survived saw that the rules had changed, and many of them immigrated to Israel. They saw that not all violence was wrong, that violence could be used to preserve the Jewish people, and that the defensive use of weapons was necessary for the survival of the community. The result has been a greater acceptance of individual use of weapons for personal defense.

Israelis, in short, have learned a lesson that far too few American Jews have yet to grasp: For Jews, the phrase “assault rifle” is a misnomer — the correct term, once the shtetl mentality has been transcended, is “Jewish defense rifle.”

[Eric King is a writer living in Berkeley, Calif.]


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Government; Israel
KEYWORDS: 2ndamendment; armedcitizen; banglist; ccw; israel; jewishamericans; liberals; rkba

1 posted on 03/22/2008 9:19:31 AM PDT by kiriath_jearim
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To: kiriath_jearim
“This is America,” my mother reassured me. “That can’t happen here.”

I seem to recall German Jews saying the same thing.

2 posted on 03/22/2008 9:23:27 AM PDT by Digital Sniper (Hello, "Undocumented Immigrant." I'm an "Undocumented Border Patrol Agent.")
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To: kiriath_jearim
“This is America,” my mother reassured me. “That can’t happen here.”

All across America little Jewish boys and girls got the same answer, and pretty much all of them accepted it. That answer, though, didn’t satisfy me — and to this day I wonder how it is that Jews in America, despite no small amount of antisemitism, have so strongly devoted themselves to the belief that “it” couldn’t happen here.

Yes, "IT" could happen here. That's why our founding fathers made sure there was a second amendment. "IT" could happen almost anywhere.

I do understand why they thought the U.S. was/is safe, though.

3 posted on 03/22/2008 9:25:48 AM PDT by madison10
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To: kiriath_jearim

Orthodox Jews and Guns:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ntov9g1vK00


4 posted on 03/22/2008 9:30:28 AM PDT by camerakid400
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To: kiriath_jearim

Why are Jews anti-gun? Because Americans in urban areas are predominately anti-gun, and Jews live in urban areas.


5 posted on 03/22/2008 9:33:01 AM PDT by Alter Kaker (Gravitation is a theory, not a fact. It should be approached with an open mind...)
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To: kiriath_jearim
"Can't happen here" are three of the most dangerous words in the English language.

But it's a great song by Rainbow.

Scouts Out! Cavalry Ho!

6 posted on 03/22/2008 9:34:28 AM PDT by wku man (BLOAT while you can...)
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To: kiriath_jearim

7 posted on 03/22/2008 9:36:07 AM PDT by BGHater ($2300 is the limit of your Free Speech.)
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To: kiriath_jearim

Live and let live is another good rule of life.


8 posted on 03/22/2008 9:37:10 AM PDT by Waco
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To: kiriath_jearim

Anytime the basic freedoms of its citzenry are eliminated or diminished any country can evolve into Nazi Germany or Communist Russia.


9 posted on 03/22/2008 9:39:58 AM PDT by lilylangtree (Veni, Vidi, Vici)
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To: Digital Sniper

Hitler would love this fact. Most of us in Texas own guns. When we got concealed gun laws passed here GUN CRIME went DOWN.


10 posted on 03/22/2008 9:40:23 AM PDT by buffyt (Glowbull warming/Climate Change - the biggest hoax/fraud/deception of the 21st century.)
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: Alter Kaker
This doesn't explain why the majority in the US take liberal positions on just about everything else? Including defense against those who would like to murder them.
12 posted on 03/22/2008 9:47:46 AM PDT by mimaw
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To: FrPR

Just yesterday I stopped into visit with the very smart and personable observant Jew who owns probably the only gun store in my neighborhood. I may forward the link to this article to him, although I know he won’t open his computer until sundown.


13 posted on 03/22/2008 9:48:16 AM PDT by Emmett McCarthy
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To: kiriath_jearim
...“it” couldn’t happen here.

Any more fallacies to convey?

14 posted on 03/22/2008 9:51:53 AM PDT by EGPWS (Trust in God, question everyone else)
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To: buffyt
When we got concealed gun laws passed here GUN CRIME went DOWN.

As it has everywhere that CCW has been enacted into law.

I wonder why? /s

15 posted on 03/22/2008 9:54:14 AM PDT by EGPWS (Trust in God, question everyone else)
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To: buffyt

An Armed society is a polite society.....


16 posted on 03/22/2008 10:01:45 AM PDT by Yorlik803 ( Please dont drag your filth into my swamp..................)
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To: kiriath_jearim; All


JEWS FOR THE PRESERVATION
OF FIREARMS OWNERSHIP

America's Most Aggressive Defender
of Firearms


17 posted on 03/22/2008 10:03:15 AM PDT by cake_crumb (Obama looks, walks and talks like a racist pig...)
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To: Alter Kaker

“Because Americans in urban areas are predominately anti-gun, and Jews live in urban areas.”

Obviously you’re not familiar with the “Diamond District” in NYC. Try robbing one of the diamond dealers walking on the street and you will witness Uzi’s coming out from under every coat.


18 posted on 03/22/2008 10:03:59 AM PDT by panaxanax (Writing in Duncan Hunter 2008!)
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To: BGHater

Ah, you beat me to it while I was trying to figure out why the font wouldn’t show up....the amount of time and trying to figure out what part of the code was screwed up before finally realizing the color was #ffffff is....REALLY embarrassing. Argh.


19 posted on 03/22/2008 10:05:11 AM PDT by cake_crumb (Obama looks, walks and talks like a racist pig...)
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To: panaxanax
Obviously you’re not familiar with the “Diamond District” in NYC. Try robbing one of the diamond dealers walking on the street and you will witness Uzi’s coming out from under every coat.

You know, I've never tried to rob anyone in the Diamond District. I'll take your word for it.

20 posted on 03/22/2008 10:05:58 AM PDT by Alter Kaker (Gravitation is a theory, not a fact. It should be approached with an open mind...)
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To: EGPWS

To all of you, keep owning guns and feel free to buy another one. Encourage people to own guns, it’s the surest guarantor of our liberties anywhere.

As for the Jews and their avowed anti-gun stance, we can always hope.

In the article, I personally don’t believe the cossacks would have just became more angry. That sounds like someone who takes the coloring book version of history a little too literally. However, if you just point the gun at an attacking cossack most of the time they turn and run away. Predators want an easy victim, they aren’t looking for a challenge.

A better story is the Warsaw Ten - if there were only a hundred the end may have been different.

I’m thinking of buying another gun myself.

Yours truly,
The Woim


21 posted on 03/22/2008 10:19:17 AM PDT by The Woim (I'm The Woim and conservatives need to fight to abolish the Dept of Education)
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To: mimaw

“”This doesn’t explain why the majority in the US take liberal positions on just about everything else? Including defense against those who would like to murder them.””


It is because Americans are conditioned to believe what they repeatedly hear. If you have attended public schools, follow the mainstream news, or attended a typical college you have been bombarded with erroneous information.

Liberalism does not teach personal responsibility therefore our nation now has numerous people that blame the gun and not the criminal, blame the agency rather than the laws, or blame the virus and not the behavior (etc etc).


22 posted on 03/22/2008 10:21:37 AM PDT by volunbeer (Dear heaven.... we really need President Reagan again!)
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To: kiriath_jearim

in the movie Fail-Safe (1964) Prof. Groeteschele at one point makes a mention to the effect of “imagine if every Jew had a gun when the Nazis came to take them away”


23 posted on 03/22/2008 10:23:06 AM PDT by isom35
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To: kiriath_jearim

Because it’s not too unusual for Jews to think that people is nice and law abiding.


24 posted on 03/22/2008 10:27:08 AM PDT by Codename - Ron Benjamin (Pre-emptive, multi-tasking, interrupt control)
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To: The Woim
... if you just point the gun at an attacking cossack most of the time they turn and run away.

Well said The Woim.

Having and using are too different things however both are very effective deterrents. ; )

25 posted on 03/22/2008 10:27:40 AM PDT by EGPWS (Trust in God, question everyone else)
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To: madison10; All

Many of you seem to be forgetting or discounting that there is ANOTHER large faction of Jews who believe that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. That’s why an organization as large as the IPFO exists. There are different sects of Judaism, different beliefs and different ideologies. JUST as there are in Christianity.


26 posted on 03/22/2008 10:43:58 AM PDT by cake_crumb (Obama looks, walks and talks like a racist pig...)
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To: kiriath_jearim

‘...the correct term ... is “Jewish defense rifle.”’


I have several of these.


27 posted on 03/22/2008 11:04:10 AM PDT by captain_dave
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To: cake_crumb
Many of you seem to be forgetting or discounting that there is ANOTHER large faction of Jews who believe that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. That’s why an organization as large as the IPFO exists.

Not discounting, just didn't know.

28 posted on 03/22/2008 11:14:40 AM PDT by madison10
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To: kiriath_jearim

The Old Testament is full of stories about a certain group of people that were slow to learn from their mistakes.


29 posted on 03/22/2008 11:16:27 AM PDT by proudpapa (May God Bless Our Troops.)
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To: kiriath_jearim

***It was the key to survival, and to self-respect.***

Wrong

The key to survival is to present an overwhelmingly violent and rapid attack to your aggressor.


30 posted on 03/22/2008 11:54:03 AM PDT by wastedyears (More Maiden coming up in a few months!)
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To: wku man

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow?


31 posted on 03/22/2008 11:57:28 AM PDT by wastedyears (More Maiden coming up in a few months!)
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To: FrPR

I remember some comedian, possibly Jay Leno, making a joke that offended me as a believer in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. This comedian said, paraphrased at least, that JPFO “could hold its conventions in a telephone booth”. What a shame that many Jewish people have become so trusting of our government to protect them, when they see what is happening in so many countries to so many groups of people, from Serbs to Tibetans to “suburban” Parisians. Our government is so determined to emulate the EU, and our businesses so determined to pattern our workplace after those in Asia, that you have to wonder how they can’t believe it can happen here.


32 posted on 03/22/2008 11:58:28 AM PDT by LongTimeMILurker
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To: The Woim

What were The Warsaw Ten? There isn’t even a Wiki article on them.


33 posted on 03/22/2008 12:02:12 PM PDT by wastedyears (More Maiden coming up in a few months!)
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To: cake_crumb

One of the few “gun rights” organizations I support.


34 posted on 03/22/2008 12:03:44 PM PDT by mad_as_he$$ (John McCain - The Manchurian Candidate? http://www.usvetdsp.com/manchuan.htm)
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Comment #35 Removed by Moderator

To: kiriath_jearim

Because modern liberalism is a suicidal mental illness.


36 posted on 03/22/2008 12:46:10 PM PDT by the gillman@blacklagoon.com (!)
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To: Alter Kaker
“Why are Jews anti-gun? Because Americans in urban areas are predominately anti-gun, and Jews live in urban areas.”

Americans in urban areas were not always anti-gun. As late as the 1950’s, most urban people saw guns as an ordinary part of everyday life. It wasn't until the strong anti-gun propaganda campaign started in the early ‘60s that many urban people succumbed to the anti-gun propaganda, which was virtually unopposed in the Main Stream Media, that they became marginally “anti-gun”.
37 posted on 03/22/2008 12:58:06 PM PDT by marktwain
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To: wastedyears
Yep...non other. It came out in the early 80s, IIRC. Not sure which album.

Scouts Out! Cavalry Ho!

38 posted on 03/22/2008 2:24:32 PM PDT by wku man (BLOAT while you can...)
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To: wintertime

ping


39 posted on 03/22/2008 3:11:53 PM PDT by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid.)
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To: kiriath_jearim
Too many American Jews revel in their martyrdom.
40 posted on 03/23/2008 6:04:25 PM PDT by Shooter 2.5 (NRA - Vote against the dem party)
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