Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Pittsburgh leaders use grief to score political points?
On October 27, 2018, a gunman entered a Jewish house of worship in my hometown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania's second largest city). In that synagogue, the gunman cried out for the death of Jews--and proceeded to murder 11 Jews during their weekly Shabbat prayers.
A house of worship is a sanctuary. It's a place to 'speak to G-d'. It is not a place to murder.
In our Jewish tradition, our Houses of worship are likened to our Holy Temple. It is, we learn, a substitute for the Temple that we lost. Our Houses of Worship have 'sanctity'.
So here it was, in the beautiful home town I left to make aliyah, that the worst antisemitic attack in American history took place on that October Shabbat. Americans everywhere were shocked--and rightly so. To be murdered as you pray in your place of prayer seems especially heinous to everyone who appreciates the concept of prayer.
If ever there was a moment for a President of the United States to pay his respects to murder victims, this Pittsburgh attack was it. After all. this was no random killing. It was unspeakable genocide not only against Jews, but also against America's commitment to freedom of religion.
Make no mistake. This was indeed a genocidal attack. In Pittsburgh, 11 people were murdered not for what they had done. They were murdered for what they were--Jews. To be murdered because you are Jewish is a very good working definition of 'genocide' (here, page 11).
For a sitting US President to refuse to visit a place where so many Jews had been murdered in one day would have been a slap in the face to all Americans who believe in the freedom of religion. That refusal would instead signal that Jews do not qualify to participate fully in the nation's basic principles of freedom.
Clearly, Trump understood this. He came to Pittsburgh. He did the right thing.
Just as clearly, however, the Pittsburgh leaders who refused to meet Trump's plane when he arrived--or to accompany him in his solemn duty--did not understand this.
For them, the President didn't belong in Pittsburgh. The President's presence in Pittsburgh was a slap in the face, all right--to Democrats.
These local leaders apparently cared little about respecting the dead. They cared only about respecting their political hatred.
CNN presented a report of almost 9 minutes to show Trump visiting the crime seen--the Tree of Life synagogue (here). In that report CNN spent little-to-no time talking about how all of Pittsburgh grieved over these victims. It spent a lot of time reminding us (repeatedly) that protesters were shouting against Trump only a block away.
Local Pittsburgh leaders showed the greatest of disrespect to the dead. CNN echoed this disrespect: as CNN showed the President and First Lady moving from one memorial marker to another (set up outside the synagogue), CNN ran a caption that said, "[local Democrat] officials stay away as President is accused of incitement".
Incitement? The President wasn't in Pittsburgh to incite (here, on the 'Trump incites' trope). He was there to fulfill his responsibility to express a nation's grief for the dead.
Pittsburgh's leadership insults the Jewish community. CNN insults them. too. At a time of grief, these 'leaders' (and this mainstream media outlet) can think only of how little they respect the country's leader?
They ignore the grief of Pittsburgh. They ignore those killed. They ignore the tragedy of the attack. They can think only of scoring political points against their hated President.
Have they no compassion for grieving families? Have they no respect for the murdered? Have they no shame?