"We have become Europe overnight." Rabbi Sue Silberberg, Hillel Bloomigton Indiana University
Our deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families of the horrific shootings at Shabbat services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 27, 2018.
The impact of this heinous crime is devastating for communities across the country.
We are witnessing a new dimension of violence against Jews in the 21st century. It is taking place in a highly divisive social and political climate and includes growing violence against other minorities and political opponents, too. In the same week, two African Americans, Maurice Stallard, 69, and Vickie Lee Jones, 67, were murdered presumably because of the color of their skin and 14 bombs were sent to prominent Democrats and CNN.
11 people have been murdered for being Jewish. The killer is reported to have said that "all Jews must die." He blamed Jews for a rise of immigration that he sees as an invasion. In the killer's worldview, Jews are responsible for immigration that allegedly poses a genocidal threat against his people, presumably whites, from which favored group he excludes Jews. Jews, as he conceives of them, are "the children of Satan," an appellation that, in this demented view, warrants their death.
This is not the first time that absurd and delusional worldviews have driven people to murder as many Jews as they possibly can. This is the essence of modern antisemitism at its most lethal: it sees Jews as being conspiratorially organized for world domination and, therefore, are a threat to be eliminated by whatever means possible. The Pittsburgh killer, evidently radicalized along these lines by extreme white supremacist and neo-Nazi websites, subscribed to these views and then acted to carry them out. Our research has shown that he is not alone. Others join him in projecting their longing for genocide onto the Jewish people.
Individuals who act on such beliefs are still on the fringes of society, but some fragments of these conspiratorial ideas are starting to get into the mainstream, be it from white supremacism, Jihadist supremacism, or extreme left anti-imperialism.
The situation of American Jews in terms of the hostilities they face is still far better than the situation of most Jewish communities in Europe. However, this new dimension of antisemitic violence shows that we need to do far more to understand the roots and dynamics of antisemitism in order to fight it effectively.
"The premier demand upon all education is that Auschwitz not happen again." (Theodor Adorno)
We remember the victims:
Joyce Feinberg, 75
Richard Gottfried, 65
Rose Mallinger, 97
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
Cecil Rosenthal, 59
David Rosenthal, 54
Bernice Simon, 84
Sylvan Simon, 86
Daniel Stein, 71
Melvin Wax, 88
Irving Younger, 69
May their memory be a blessing.