The shooting has been called the deadliest attack on Jews in the history of the United States.
The total body count at Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh: 11 dead; six wounded.
The first words that President Donald Trump said were, “If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better. If they had some kind of protection within the temple, it could have been a much better situation. They didn’t.”
Whoa. Do not blame the Jews for someone gunning them down, especially when four armed police officers were shot during the attack.
I’m tired of people blaming the Jews.
Tired of people blaming the Jews all through history.
Tired of people blaming the Jews for killing Jesus.
Tired of people blaming the Jews for the economy in nearly every nation on earth.
Tired of people blaming the Jews for not resisting more during the Holocaust when 6 million of them were murdered.
Tired of people blaming the Jews for their own personal bad day or bad life or bad luck.
The attack in Pittsburgh wasn’t just a nut with an arsenal of guns. It was a nut with an arsenal of hate and guns aimed at Jews. Not just anyone. Jews.
Someone needs to say it loud and bluntly, so I will.
This wasn’t a random school shooting. This wasn’t a random shooting at a concert or a bar or a shopping mall. This was a targeted, pre-meditated attack on Jews at a synagogue on Shabbat.
The shooter posted anti-Semitic statements on social media, angry that a nonprofit Jewish organization was helping refugees settle in the United States. His last post read: “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
When he went in the synagogue, he shouted, “All Jews must die!” then made sure they did. He later told the FBI, “I just want to kill Jews.”
Who is to blame? He is.
But those who allow anti-Semitism to go unchecked loaded his guns.
Those who tell anti-Semitic jokes, who don’t speak up against them, who post or share anti-Semitic words or images on Facebook, Gab or Twitter or see them and don’t speak up, those who excuse politicians and look past their hate speech to vote for them, you feed the fuel of hate.
We have a U.S. president who is known for promoting violence as a solution. During his campaign, when security guards removed a protester, he said, “I’d like to punch him in the face.”
He also said: “Any guy who can do a body slam, he is my type. … If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, OK? Just knock the hell … I promise you I will pay for the legal fees … Part of the problem is no one wants to hurt each other anymore.”
Sadly, I’m not making these up.
When 100 white nationalists and neo-Nazis marched with torches on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., last year, they gave Nazi salutes and shouted, “Sieg heil!” The president’s response?
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”
No, no, no, no, no. There is only one side.
We can never take the side of hate. Hate does not get a place at the table.
“You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides,” Trump said.
Fine people don’t chant “Sieg heil” and give Nazi salutes.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents were up more than 50 percent in 2017. Trump became president in 2017, a president whose first response to the massacre of Jews in Pittsburgh was to blame them for not having an armed guard.
Trump has done far too much to normalize hate speech. Unchecked, hate speech leads to hate crimes. We cannot allow ourselves to become a nation of bigots, racists and anti-Semites.
Politicians are already sending their thoughts and prayers to Pittsburgh, but we voted for them to do more than think and pray. We voted for them to act.
It’s time for us to act, too.
Take your thoughts and prayers to the ballot box. Do your research first. Who promotes hate? Who promotes violence? Who spews anti-Semitism? Who allows racism to continue by preventing black people and Native Americans from voting? By not calling out neo-Nazis and white supremacists?
On Election Day, cast your vote for those who will never vote again, for Rose Mallinger, brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal; Bernice and her husband Sylvan Simon, Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Jerry Rabinowitz, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger.
Cast a vote for integrity, compassion, decency.
Stand up to the National Rife Association. Take a risk for these 11 who died. Get AR-15s off the market for good. No one needs to own an assault weapon or an entire arsenal of weapons.
Make America no place for hate, starting with the oval office and working your way down through the Senate, House, all the way down to the lowliest township trustee.
Trump almost got it right when he finally said, “This evil anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us. It’s an assault on humanity. It will require all of us working together to extract the hateful poison of anti-Semitism from the world,”
I hope by all of us, he means himself, too.
But let’s not forget that, first and foremost, this was an attack on Jews, Jews who died on Shabbat, a holy day of rest.
May they rest in peace, but not us. We can’t rest. Not now.
Not on your life.
And not on anyone else’s.
Read Regina Brett online at cjn.org/regina. Connect with her on Facebook at ReginaBrettFans. 2018 Best Columnist, AJPA Louis Rapoport Award for Excellence in Commentary.