Does Israel need friends like Wayne LaPierre?
The NRA’s executive vie president’s heartily endorsed Israel’s school safety measures, including placing armed guards in front of schools, during a Meet the Press interview. However, Israeli officials and security experts immediately distanced themselves from the praise.
“Israel had a whole lot of school shootings until they did one thing,” LaPierre said “They said, ‘We’re going to stop it,’ and they put armed security at every school, and they have not had a problem since then.”
That rather inaccurate, and simplistic view of Israel’s situation prompted a round of distancing comments, including one from the Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, who told The New York Daily News that the situation in Israel was “fundamentally different” from that in the United States.
“We didn’t have a series of school shootings, and they had nothing to do with the issue at hand in the United States. We had to deal with terrorism,” said Palmor.
“What removed the danger was not the armed guards but an overall anti-terror policy and anti-terror operations which brought street terrorism down to nearly zero over a number of years,” he said. “It would be better not to drag Israel into what is an internal American discussion,” he added.
That assessment was backed up by Reuven Berko, a retired Israeli Army colonel and senior police officer, who told the Daily News: “There is no comparison between maniacs with psychological problems opening fire at random to kill innocent people and trained terrorists trying to murder Israeli children.”
The fact is that despite its unwarranted reputation as a ‘wild West’ haven for free-rein guns, in recent years, restrictions on gun ownership in Israel have been tightened, not relaxed.: While most Israelis are trained to use guns for self-defense during their time in the IDF, the weapons cannot be purchased as recreational tools or for personal protection without going through an extraordinarily strict process of background checks – both medical and criminal – as well as a competence test, a three-month waiting period and Public Security Ministry approval.
So, while we certainly appreciate praise and being cited as a model to follow, in this case, LaPierre’s rather backhanded compliment is better off politely declined. On the other hand, we wouldn’t want to make him angry. No telling what an angry man with a gun could do.