Last Saturday, during a Shabbat service at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a man by the name of Robert Bowers entered the synagogue saying that “Jews must die” and shooting randomly at congregants, ultimately killing eleven. His reason? He blamed Jews for the migrant caravan that he has been told by none other than Donald Trump, is coming here to take jobs, kill people, and ruin the United States. Sadly, Mr. Bowers isn’t very intelligent, so he believed the blatant lies that Trump spewed.
To set the facts straight, the migrant caravan is comprised of families – men, women and children – who are fleeing from the violence in their home countries, hoping to seek asylum in the United States, work hard, assimilate into our society, and make a better, safer life for their children. Trump’s tales that they are criminals and even Middle-Eastern terrorists, that they were financed by George Soros in order to affect the mid-term elections, are nothing but lies made up in the scrambled mind of a madman.
That same madman now plans to visit Pittsburgh, ostensibly to offer his “thoughts and prayers”, but in truth for a photo op in the days leading up to the election. Most of Pittsburgh, it seems, do not want him. At last count, more than 44,000 people had signed an open letter from the leaders of a Pittsburgh-based Jewish group who say Trump will not be welcome in the city unless he denounces white nationalism and stops “targeting” minorities. Here is the letter:
Yesterday, a gunman slaughtered 11 Americans during Shabbat morning services. We mourn with the victims’ families and pray for the wounded. Here in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, we express gratitude for the first responders and for the outpouring of support from our neighbors near and far. We are committed to healing as a community while we recommit ourselves to repairing our nation.
For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement. You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your 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.
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.
Bend the Arc: Pittsburgh Steering Committee
It is time we all step up to the plate and hold Donald Trump accountable for what he says, for the lies he cannot seem to stop telling. Yes, republicans, that means YOU, too. If you continue to support his hate speech, his incitement to riot, then you must share the guilt, share the blame, when innocent people are killed because somebody, somewhere took his words seriously. Words matter. It’s time to stop the runaway mouth that is attached to the ‘man’ in the White House before more people die for no reason other than Trump thinks he’s funny.
Despite the letter, Trump and Melania are planning a visit to Pittsburgh today. Perhaps Melania can wear her lovely jacket that says, “I really don’t care, do U?” Nothing would surprise me about this pair of unconscionable, cold, cruel narcissists. You know what would make my day? If he and Melania landed, and nobody came to greet them on the tarmac, there was no waiting Mayor Peduto, no Governor Wolfe … nobody. Nobody lining the streets cheering, nobody to greet him anywhere. That is what needs to happen in order for him to see that there are consequences for his childish, dangerous behaviour.