AALDEF condemns the violence and anti-Semitism that claimed the lives of eleven members of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue the morning of Saturday, October 27.
The murderer was vocal and clear about his hatred. He blamed a Jewish refugee aid group for “bring[ing] invaders in that kill our people,” and reportedly told police, “I just want to kill Jews.”
This mass murder followed another shooting last Wednesday near Louisville, Kentucky. A gunman attempted to enter First Baptist Church, a predominantly Black church. Unable to enter, he fled to a grocery store and shot two Black individuals. When the gunman was confronted by another white man, he reportedly said, “Whites don’t kill whites,” and walked away.
This is a national tragedy. We mourn with the families of the people killed in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, and with our Jewish and Black allies.
These acts of murder do not occur in a vacuum. Political leaders and ideologues have fomented a toxic environment of hate speech. Such irresponsible rhetoric has enabled and inflamed racist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Semitic violence.
Last week, a fanatic Trump supporter sent at least 13 pipe bombs in the mail to former Presidents, members of Congress, and other prominent public figures. One bomb was found across the street from AALDEF’s office, sent to terrorize Robert De Niro and our Tribeca neighbors.
We are reminded in the face of crisis that we have a responsibility. Each one of us must become diligent, persistent fighters for justice in these chaotic times. Our communities are varied and diverse, but we must stand united in solidarity for justice and dignity. Together, we have the extraordinary power as advocates and activists to transform today’s divisive political climate and stop hate violence.
And don’t forget: use your power as voters next Tuesday. Ensure that the politicians who foster this climate of hate are held accountable for their reckless actions and rhetoric. By exercising our right to vote, we can elect officials who truly represent our values and will work to protect our communities.