Four people were murdered on Tuesday, and two assailants killed, in an anti-Semitic attack on a kosher market in Jersey City. It was one of the deadliest attacks against Jews on American soil in the history of the United States; if the perpetrators had succeeded in detonating a pipe bomb they had built, the carnage could have been even worse. And yet, the shooting attracted remarkably little attention at first and, even now, barely seems to be penetrating the national conscience.
Perhaps that’s because, in the House of Representatives, the impeachment articles against President Donald Trump are nearing a vote. Or because William Barr, the attorney general, has launched a set of broadsides against the FBI. Or perhaps the relative silence about the Jersey City massacre is due to the fact that it does not fit a neat political narrative.
For many decades, American Jews felt much more secure about their place in the country than their brethren in many other parts of the world. It is not just that Jews in the United States were highly successful or that they occupied some very visible positions in politics, business, and entertainment. It was also that their presence had long since come to feel like a natural part of a multiethnic and multicultural mosaic. Unlike Jewish schools, museums, and temples in so many other countries, most Jewish institutions in America were not usually in need of special security forces to protect them.