Viewpoint – Attack highlights hate problem in America

By Kathryn Kelman/editor-in-chief

On Oct. 27, a gunman, reportedly shouting “all Jews must die,” entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and began firing an AR-15.

It was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history.

So rather than discuss the country’s gun problem again, it’s time to discuss America’s hate problem, specifically related to the Jewish community. 

The shooting rampage left six wounded and 11 dead. Among those who perished were Melvin Wax, 87; Bernice Simon, 64; and Rose Mallinger, 97, all of whom were alive at the time when the Holocaust was devastating Jewish communities around Europe. 

They survived one of the darkest periods in human existence only to die at the hands of a man influence by the same kind of hatred in America 74 years after concentration camps were liberated and the horrors of the Holocaust were brought to light.

 Often when children ask why they have to learn about history the answer they receive is, “So we don’t repeat it.” 

So, one would assume anti-Semitism ended in 1945 and such hate would never take hold like that again and lead to such evils. But they would be wrong.

2017 saw the largest single-year increase since the Anti-Defamation League, which has tracked and fought anti-Semitism for over a century, began its annual audit in 1979. 

A 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents occurred in 2017 that ranged from high-profile ones like when Nazis marched Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting “Jews will not replace us,” to physical assaults, vandalism and attacks on Jewish institutions. 

The problem is that for far too long anti-Semitism has not been adequately confronted or condemned by those in powerful positions locally, statewide or nationally. Instead, it’s been ignored.

Maybe this harrowing, monstrous act against an innocent Jewish community will finally open our eyes as a nation to the reality that anti-Semitism is alive and well in America in 2018. 

At the very least, we can no longer plead ignorance to its existence.

And as we move forward from this tragedy, we must confront and condemn violence in all forms.

Hate has no place in our country. It’s time to condemn all of it, without prejudice, unequivocally in all forms.