Saturday, 19 Jan 2019

For American Jews, Pittsburgh synagogue massacre is culmination of worst fears

Joe Heim Reporter covering a range of topics, including race, white nationalism, schools, student culture, Native American Issues October 27 at 10:07 PM This is what they had long been fearing. As the threats have increased, it has become more commonplace, the possibility of a violent attack on America's Jewish communities. On Saturday, the worst of those fears was made in Pittsburgh synagogue, killing at least 11 of its members, and reportedly shouting "All Jews must die" during his rampage. It is the worst single attack on American Jews in the history of the country. And it is one that has been monitoring the United States to be dreading. "Unfortunately, they are not surprising," said Oren Segal, director of the Anti Defamation League's Center on Extremism. "Anti-Semitism is the lifeblood of extremism, and violence is never that far behind." [Gunman kills 11 in Pittsburgh synagogue massacre investigated as a hate crime] In its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, the ADL chronicled a 57 percent rise of incidents in 2017 over the previous year. That included everything from bomb threats and assaults to vandalism, desecration of cemeteries and the flooding of college campuses with anti-Semitic posters and graffiti. Saturday's deadly attack took place against the backdrop of a particular toxic era in American political and social life. Many Americans believe that the increase in anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racism over the past two years has been stoked by the rhetoric of some of the nation's top leaders, particularly President Trump, whose ongoing rallies are marked by denunciations of immigrants and the deriding of "Globalists," which is viewed as a code word for Jews. Most recently, he has declared himself a "nationalist," thrilling some of his followers who identify themselves as white nationalists.
It has been just 14 months since white supremacists protesting the removal of a confederate statue marched through the University of Virginia chanting campus, "Our blood, our soil!" And "Jews will not replace us!" by Trump, but there were "very fine people on both sides." On the far right, the president's words were taken as an endorsement of their behavior and their ideas and encouragement to pursued them. "The answer was not satisfactory," Segal said. "It's not hard to condemn Nazi gold anti-Semites unquivocally. That's the expectation of the Jewish community has. That's the expectation all communities have. "[[In the close-knit community Squirrel Hill, shock and confusion

 Although anti-Semitism is over, it is not new in the United States. The country's Jewish groups and organizations have long been targets of zealots and bigots. But for much of American history, there have been many few large-scale violent attacks. And nothing on the order of Saturday's mass murder. It is also important to observe that it is a politically poisoned atmosphere, observers say. "We have seen acts of violence. What's new is the context of the acts of violence, "said Eric Ward, executive director of the Western States Center, an Oregon-based progressive group focused on social and economic justice. "Said Ward, who has been studying anti-semitism for the past 30 years. "It's basically coming out of the margins, and what's different about this moment and chilling it is that the rhetoric is coming out of the mainstream, and it's giving permission to people on the margins to act out." Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, said that in the past decades, such as when was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, anti-Semitism was more structural, in the form of discrimination in employment and education. "I knew I had to be as good as the non-Jewish kids" to get into college, for example, she said. Attacks would happen on a personal level, for example. "Kids would be beaten up in the street if you lived in the mixed neighborhood," she said. But Lipstadt said she was taken aback by the scale and horror of the Pittsburgh rampage. "This is beyond anything we've experienced," Lipstadt said. She said it and the recent wave of anti-Semitic incidents over the past two years are the result of "anti-Semitic dog whistles" from leaders – for example, she said, rhetoric painting George Soros as a "21st century Rothschild" – that have emboldened neo-Nazi and other white supremacists intent on committing acts of violence. The increase in anti-Semitic attacks and harassment online, particularly on the popular social media platforms, has been an acute concern in recent years for those monitoring far-right hate groups and white supremacists. "The rise of the far right in America and Europe is linked to the spread of anti-Semitic conspiracies about Jewish global domination and increased calls for greater borders and nationalist policies," said Joan Donovan, media manipulation research lead at Data and Society Research Institute, an independent nonprofit in New York. "Attention to conspiracy theories about Jewish people, especially Soros, has reached new mainstream audiences through Internet memes and right-wing news outlets. Holocaust denial. "Although there is increasing demand for platforms in the field of aggression, it is important to avoid this problem. "Such failures to act on the propagation of these conspiracies is dangerous," Donovan said. Rabbi Jack Moline, President of the Washington-based Interfaith Alliance, said the current public of anti-Semitism "is like nothing that I have seen in my life, and I go back to the early '50s." For Moline, the Marches in Charlottesville last year were the first public demonstrations of anti-Semitism he had seen since the late 1970s, when American neo-Nazis fought in short to market in Skokie, Ill. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he remembers synagogues and Jewish centers. Some of the precautions may have seemed excessive. Not anymore. "I do not know about a dangerous world," he said. "For the ADL's Segal, who has spent 20 years tracking anti-semitic violence and bullying, Saturday's deadly news was not enough, but not despair. "You can not do this work without a healthy dose of hope that things will get better," he said. "We have to hope that this moment will not be remembered for the haters and the violence, but for what people did not answer. Already we're coming out of the streets saying this does not represent us, this does not represent this country. That's a good first step. Michelle Boorstein, contributor to this report. .

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