In July 1993, I joined a group of Jewish leaders on a visit to Israel with Mayor David N. Dinkins. One morning as we had breakfast at the King David Hotel terrace overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, Mayor Dinkins confided “I wish Ray Kelly were in charge before Crown Heights blew up.” By this time, Ray Kelly had become Police Commissioner and had made a clear impact on the Mayor.
I thought of the moment when Ray Kelly was chosen by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to lead the NYPD not long after 9/11. Whenever there is talk of terrorist attacks on New York City, I look at my family, friends and neighbors and feel fortunate that the city’s security is in Commissioner Kelly’s hands (and the superb people he surrounds himself with). When I or any member of my family is out late at night, there is a sense of ease because of the way that crime has been diminished even further by the NYPD under Kelly.
Whenever there is a threat, I can see the increased security at synagogues and identifiably Jewish locations. Terrorists have made it clear that Jews are significant targets for them. However if Jews were suspected of being terrorists, I would hope that the law enforcement community would be leaving no stone unturned, including surveillance at my synagogue, to get to the threats.
It is for this reason that I cannot comprehend the recent uproar over a video which actually states at its beginning that it is only a “minority of Muslims” who are suspected of terrorism. Commissioner Kelly has apologized for appearing in the video. Possibly he felt he had to do so to maintain continued positive relations with Muslim communities, but his upstanding record for a decade should have been enough. Mayor Bloomberg and his Police Commissioner have been extraordinarily gracious and effective in their outreach to the Muslim community.
And now, in addition to the ongoing concerns about lone wolf terrorists, we learn of Iran’s (and Hezbollah and Hamas) threats to strike at America and the Zionists (read Jews). Intelligence reports from Washington, D.C. law enforcement confirms that those threats center on areas with significant Jewish populations.
New York City is in the crosshairs of these types of threats. Fortunately, our Police Commissioner is laser focused on preventing any attacks. His staff is thoroughly prepared but imagine, God forbid, if an attack succeeded because somehow the “politically correct” among us forced the NYPD to decrease their surveillance.
While people’s civil liberties must be protected, it is outrageous to suggest that the practices of the NYPD have in any serious way compromised that goal. Tragically, there are some who protested the killing of Osama bin Laden. Not surprisingly, some are now leading the attempt to tie the hands of law enforcement and particularly the NYPD during this dangerous time. All people of good will – Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and non-believers – need to rally around Commissioner Kelly and other law enforcement leaders to keep each other and our city safe.
William E. Rapfogel is CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. He has led other Jewish organizations and served in the Administration of Mayor Edward I. Koch and with Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin.