We at EMET are profoundly saddened and chilled to the core at the deadly massacre at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh and we offer prayers of solidarity, strength, and support to the Squirrel Hill community, to all of those who suffered the loss of family members and friends, and pray for the recovery of all those injured.
Throughout the Diaspora, our synagogues serve as our links to our collective history, our identities, and our faith. They serve as our sanctuaries, our places to go in times of personal joy, crisis or sorrow. They are our original “safe spaces.”
All of this was shattered on Saturday morning when Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in a leafy suburb of Pittsburgh, shouting, “All Jews must die,” mowing down 11 people at worship. This attack was not only an attack on the Jewish people, but it was also an attack on the very values that make the United States the exemplary nation that it is. It is an attack on one of the core, founding principles of the United States, religious freedom.
We are painfully aware that on the extremes of both sides in this country, our people are not wanted. Anti-Semitism is a rather virulent virus, which has found a welcome home in both the extreme right and the extreme left. There are people who lurk in the margins of our society, in the shadows of the internet, who spew their hateful creed.
In its most common form today, anti-Semitism in America is found on our college campuses, where Israel is held to a standard that no other country could possibly be asked to live up to, particularly when faced with the same difficult conditions that Israel must live under. Swastikas and apartheid walls have sprung up on virtually every campus from Columbia to UCLA and hundreds of points in between. It has become far too acceptable for university administrators to give a “pass” to hateful symbols and slogans aimed at intimidating and chilling Jewish students, under the cover of free speech, something which they would never allow when aimed at any other minority group.
At anti-Israeli rallies throughout our college campuses, students are often heard shouting such expressions as “Zionist pigs,” “Hitler was right,” and even “Jews to the ovens.” The very symbol of the swastika, which has proliferated throughout our college campuses, represents the goal of the extermination of Jews.
This creates an environment that is hostile to Jewish students, and teaches non-Jews that a certain form of hatred in our country, anti-Semitism, is acceptable “free speech.”
What gives us some solace in this sorrowful time is that opposed to Europe of just one generation ago, and the world of radical Islam, including Hamas-controlled Gaza, where the massacre of Jews is exhorted, glorified and incentivized on a daily basis, the Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre was condemned by the vast majority of Americans, from the President on down.
The vast majority of people in this country are people of good will, but our history has taught us that we must remain forever vigilant of those who lurk in the margins of our society, and of the growing problem of anti-Semitism on our college campuses, which has taken the 21st-century form, of anti-Zionism.
Let us hope that we can make something positive out of the recent horrific events in Pittsburgh and work together as a community to prevent the proliferation of this latest form of anti-Semitism that our students must confront on our college campuses.
About The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, EMET’s mission is to educate policymakers in Washington and the general public about the importance of Israel to the United States in their common struggle against radical Islam. For more information, please visit, http://www.emetonline.