The purpose of terrorism is to make as many people afraid as possible. When a terrorist attacks people going about their day-to-day lives, such as at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester or those walking across London Bridge on a night out, he only succeeds if he makes us all afraid.
The purpose of events such as the now postponed Night to Honour Israel, or the Alyth Synagogue Kosher Iftar, which runs for the fifth time hosting more than 100 Muslims and Jews to share Shabbat evening and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan together, is to create bonds and understanding between people and to put our positive values into action.
We can’t allow the fear of terrorism, or the culture of fear it promotes, to stop us doing these things. If we do, we make terrorism effective. We must run these types of events with due caution; we need to make our premises secure with vigilant security personnel providing the first line of welcome to all while being alert to anything looking out of place.
This is a duty to be shared by all in Britain; it should not be a burden on a particular community that is potentially targeted, which is why the government supports our Community Security Trust to fund Jewish organisations’ security expenditure.
If there is a specific threat to an event, it should be queried whether it should go ahead, but not if it is possible to secure it. We must not be stopped by fear from putting our values into action. Our Jewish and wider British community events must go ahead if we are not to hand terrorists control over our society.
Jewish communities have had to answer this question down the ages, from the rabbis who taught the banned Torah during the Hadrianic persecutions in Roman times, to those who continued Jewish life in the Soviet Union. Terror, whether on a state or individual level, must never trump our values.
υ Mark Goldsmith is rabbi of Alyth Synagogue