Jewish Journal

Museum of Tolerance Reacts to Holocaust Shooting

by Julie Gruenbaum Fax

Posted on Jun. 10, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Within minutes of the shooting at the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C., the Los Angeles Police Department contacted the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, regarding its Museum of Tolerance, as well as other L.A.  community organizations, according to Wiesenthal Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper.

Speaking by phone from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Cooper said “it is inescapable that this was an attack against the most important symbol of memory of the Shoah in our nation’s capital. It’s revolting, it’s disgusting, and it should be a source of concern to everyone.”

Cooper noted that this summer marks the 10th anniversary of Buford Furrow’s shooting spree at the North Valley Jewish Community Center, an event that pushed Jewish organizations and the Los Angeles Police Department to a new level of vigilance.

“I have a complete confidence in—a great working relationship with—the LAPD,” Copper said. “We have very excellent protocol in place.”

In a conversation soon after the shooting, Cooper said the Museum of Tolerance was in the process of reviewing whether to change any security measures – already extremely tight—in the wake of the violence in Washington. 

“We don’t want to make it an armed camp. We want to be sure it’s a friendly place. To balance the two needs is a big challenge, and I have confidence in our security firm and most importantly, in terms of our community, in our police as well.”

Cooper said the Museum’s Tools for Tolerance program, which trains police officers, draws a significant number of law enforcement personnel into the building on a daily basis.

More Shooting Stories:

“Caught in the Attack” JewishJournal.com interview with eyewitness.

“Who Is Von Brunn?”  More details on the Shooter.

James Von Brunn Did Not Act Alone” By Rob Eshman, Editor-in-Chief

Official Statement from Museum of Tolerance

“The murderous attack that took place at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington by James von Brunn, a self-identified anti-Semite, white supremacist, and hater of African-Americans shows that the cancer of hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism is alive and well in America” said Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, founder and dean and associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

“The most astonishing fact is that the assailant, a captain in the US Navy who once fought against the Axis of evil in World War II, became an instrument of that evil,” they added.

“It is deeply disturbing that one of America’s most powerful symbols of the memory of the Holocaust was selected as the site of the attack just days after President Obama accompanied Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel to the Buchenwald death camp,” concluded Hier and Cooper who are currently meeting with Arab leaders in the Gulf region.

Official statement of The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust:

The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust adds its voice to the chorus of those wishing to comfort the friends and loved ones of Steven Tyrone Johns, of blessed memory, pictured at right.

Mr. Jones died violently, an innocent victim caught in the crossfire between a known white supremicist and the target of the murderer’s obsessive hatred. His passing undoubtedly broke the hearts of all those who knew him and loved him.

Today was a tragic loss, but also a stunning victory. Today good triumphed over evil, completely the opposite of what happened during the Holocaust. There evil triumphed over good; the innocents were imprisoned, tortured and murdered, while the evil Nazi perpetrators flourished. Mr. Jones is not just a hero to the Jewish people or the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, but to mankind.

The history of Mr. Jones’ murderer was known to law enforcement and private watchdog groups such as the Anti-Defamation League. He had been imprisoned for previous anti-Semitic acts, and actively engaged in white supremisist acts for decades. These facts only underscore the simple irony that instead of dying, the evil he represents will itself kill when given the slightest opportunity.

The perpetrator’s evil flourishes when good people do nothing, as they did too often during the Holocaust. Mr. Jones and his fellow guards at USHMM responded as they should have. But brave and quick-acting security guards are only the proximate protectors of good. Each of must do something, today and in our own homes, in our schools, our places of worship, and our communities, to make sure virulent hatred may never have another opportunity to kill.

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