Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh say Donald Trump is “not welcome” in the city until he formally denounces white nationalism.
The letter, written by the progressive Jewish leaders of Bend the Arc and already signed by tens of thousands of supporters, begins by describing the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, when a 46-year-old local named Robert Bowers slaughtered 11 people. Bowers reportedly yelled, “All Jews must die!” as he ran into the synagogue.
The Jewish leaders said they had gratitude for first responders, but added that they feared Trump’s words and policies “have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement.” They also stated that the violence was “the direct culmination” of his influence.
President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism.
Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted. You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country.
President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you stop targeting and endangering all minorities.
Specifically, the group zeroed in on refugee policies, pointing out that the shooter opposed refugee assistance.
The murderer’s last public statement invoked the compassionate work of the Jewish refugee service HIAS at the end of a week in which you spread lies and sowed fear about migrant families in Central America. He killed Jews in order to undermine the efforts of all those who find shared humanity with immigrants and refugees.
President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you cease your assault on immigrants and refugees.
The Torah teaches that every human being is made b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. This means all of us.
In our neighbors, Americans, and people worldwide who have reached out to give our community strength, there we find the image of God. While we cannot speak for all Pittsburghers, or even all Jewish Pittsburghers, we know we speak for a diverse and unified group when we say:
President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us.
Trump has tepidly condemned the attack as “evil” and “anti-Semitic,” but he also suggested the damage could have been prevented if the temple had armed guards. In reality, the best case scenario would simply cause the shooter to choose another target. Worst case, it could double the number of bullets flying, increasing the damage sustained.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway didn’t even point to anti-Semitism as the cause, blaming “anti-religiosity” in general (as if late-night comedians and critics of religion and faith-based hypocrisy led to this massacre).
This isn’t the first time Jews have spoken out against Trump for his ties to white nationalism. He’s also known for saying there was “blame on both sides” at a fatal Unite the Right rally in 2017 during which the right-wing marchers declared, “Jews will not replace us.”
This is beyond speaking out, though. The letter suggests a much firmer stand against Trump and his rhetoric. Trump has announced his intentions to visit Pittsburgh, so the question now becomes how citizens will react upon his arrival.
(Image via Shutterstock)