Dr. Mike Evans, Founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem, witnessed the Colleyville synagogue hostage crisis up close.
“They have a live Facebook with their congregation. I was on their live Facebook and I noticed when I saw it I started hearing a man’s voice, and some type of screaming, Islamic words like ‘I value death more than life.’ So I knew something was not right,” Evans tells Israel National News. “I got up and left my house to go towards the synagogue when I heard that because it’s close to my house. It’s on the same street. When I started getting up there I noticed police cars driving up. They started pushing me out of the way.”
He describes the scene: “This was very nerve wracking. This is the little town of Colleyville and this was a terrorist attack.”
But, he says it was not the first time a terrorist targeted the area.
“The first terrorist attack was me. A terrorist attempted to kill me years ago on my birthday. He killed eight people on the way to my home. The ATF contacted me and told me that he had my home address. He had my unlisted phone number, the last person he killed was a police officer. Fortunately, they got him. I didn’t make the news but it brought back memories.”
Evans explains that he is very close to Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway, who was shot during the Poway shooting attack in 2019.
“I’m very close to Rabbi Goldstein. I provided security for his synagogue for 24 hours a day in the first year after the attack. So I was actually WhatsApping Rabbi Goldstein back and forth because he’s having a lot of post traumatic stress. He was reliving it.”
When asked about his reaction to the people saying that the Colleyville hostage taking was not terrorism or that Jews were not targeted, Evans says that people who make that claim leaves him extremely upset.
“I relate to those things with outrage,” he says. “Demons don’t clear customs. What I mean by that is antisemitism is what gets Jews killed. Jews don’t die over land. They die for being Jews. I’ve dedicated my life’s work to combating antisemitism. I’ve been doing it for half a century. I know the ideology of antisemitism, what fuels it, what feeds it. It’s a battle for the minds and the hearts and when it gets into the minds and hearts there’s no stopping it.”
In the aftermath of the crisis, “For the average person, there’s going to be a lot of anxiety, there will be a lot of anxiety for the synagogues.”
Evans also notes that while Facebook shut down the live feed of the hostage situation, in other instances the social media giant is not supportive of efforts to combat antisemitism.
“This was live on Facebook and Facebook shut it down. Obviously, that was the right thing to do,” he says. “But there’s somebody else that Facebook shut down. I had 77 million followers on my Jerusalem Prayer Team for the purpose of combating antisemitism. And Facebook took down 42 million following in every Muslim country. I recruited them over five and a half years, these young people, to win their hearts and minds. And so now we’re down to 31 million because they don’t believe that Muslim young people would be interested in tolerance.”