SHMULEY BOTEACH COLUMN
Pittsburgh wasn’t political

ON Saturday, the Jewish day of rest, a middle-aged man burst into a baby-naming service at a Pittsburgh synagogue. What followed was the deadliest antisemitic attack in American history.

Eleven men and women, who had come only to celebrate and pray, were gunned down, their blood pooling around their scattered prayer books.

A heroic team of local police officers charged the shul under heavy fire. Though many sustained severe injuries, the massacre was finally brought to an end. The gunman was captured and should, in my opinion, face the death penalty.

In the days since the attack, President Donald Trump has unequivocally condemned the slaughter as an “antisemitic act of pure evil”.

The president declared “the widespread persecution of Jews” to be “one of the ugliest and darkest features of human history” and one that he vowed to fight.

“It will take all of us working together to extract the poison of antisemitism from our world,” the president went on.

The shooter, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, announced his arrival at the synagogue by screaming “all Jews must die”. He allegedly later told police officers that Jews were committing “genocide against his people”. Pretty ironic, that. A racist Jew-hater claiming the Jews are guilty of genocide just one week before the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

On social media, Bowers had frequently attacked not only Jews but President Trump for his closeness to Jews, to whom he referred in the most grotesque terms.

Despite these facts, however, many people have come close to blaming Trump for the shooting.

Joe Biden, widely expected to run for the presidency in 2020, seemed to do so when he tweeted, apparently to the president, that “words matter” and “silence is complicity”.

Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman suggested that Trump was to blame, at least in part.

Speaking sarcastically, Krugman tweeted a link to the story with the caption “but none of the white supremacist terrorism has anything to do with Trump, oh no.”

The Washington Post also featured an op-ed on its homepage titled How culpable is Trump for the shooting?

To politicise the murder of 11 Jews is lamentable. Antisemitism and its tragic incarnation in this devastating attack are caused by those who actually hate Jews and call for violence against them.

Sadly, there has never been a monopoly on antisemitism. It stems from both the extreme left and the extreme right.

It was the hard left that first accused the Jewish state of genocide and the IDF of being the Gestapo, and they have for years depicted Israel and the Jews within it as oppressors and murderers who deserve the waves of terror that they are repeatedly forced to endure.

Witness Jew-haters like Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who just last week employed the worst Nazi verbiage by calling Jews “termites”, directly implying the need for their extermination.

Then we could point to the extreme right and the growing number of neo-Nazi filth who marched in Charlottesville to the chant of “Jews will not replace us”.

We could certainly blame the festering scourge of white-supremacist scum, who have increasingly turned to violence to express their hate-riddled thoughts.

We must also blame nations like Iran that openly call for — and fund – violence against Jews across the world.

I will not politicise the murder of 11 Jews, so I will not point fingers or name parties.

But dare not forget that the Iran nuclear agreement was negotiated by America while the mullahs threatened Israel with complete annihilation.

As a Jew, I am extremely grateful to President Trump for the unparalleled support he has shown Israel in the Oval Office.

But that did not stop me from publicly and strongly criticising the president for his failure to insufficiently condemn the white supremacists in Charlottesville. There was nothing but evil on the neo-Nazi side.

In defending Israel, Trump has exceeded our expectations.

He and his soon-departing ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, brought the fight for Israel at the UN to the highest bar yet. He moved the American embassy to the Jewish people’s eternal capital in Jerusalem, which neither Bush nor Obama did.

Ultimately, though, what makes the accusations of antisemitism against Trump especially unfair is the fact that he is the first president of America to have Jewish children and grandchildren.

Even his worst enemies would admit that he loves and deeply cherishes his daughter Ivanka, who is herself an Orthodox Jew.

He supported her decision to join the Jewish people through the strictest processes of conversion, before throwing her a kosher wedding.

Through his daughter, Trump now has three Jewish grandchildren who attend Jewish schools.

His son-in-law Jared Kushner and Ivanka regularly attend synagogue themselves.

So let’s take a moment to reflect upon who are the ones truly spreading hateful gospels against the Jewish people, and do everything in our power to ensure that they are weakened, silenced, and eventually brought down.


If you have a story or an issue you want us to cover, let us know - in complete confidence - by contacting newsdesk@jewishtelegraph.com, 0161-741 2631 or via Facebook / Twitter


Site developed & maintained by
MICHAEL PAYSDEN/FIREIMAGE
© 2018 Jewish Telegraph
www.JewishTelegraph.com