Carly Pildis

The warning signs against American Jews have been growing for years

Carly Pildis reflects on the darkest day for the country's Jewish community

October 29, 2018 06:03

Death has come to America.

In my youth, we thought we had found a boundless freedom here — an eternal summer. But the cold has come; the fall is here.

This is the day we prayed would never come. The day we knew was coming.

The warning signs have been growing for years. In 2016 more than half of the religious hate crimes in America targeted Jews. Antisemitic incidents surged 57 per cent in 2017. Jewish Community Centre bomb threats, Neo-Nazi vandalism and cemetery desecrations were just the beginning.

No matter how much the Jewish community raised our voice, we found we were only talking to each other.

Saturday, October 27 was the darkest day in American Jewish history. In the morning the Jewish community of Pittsburgh gathered to celebrate a bris; by evening they would be planning 11 funerals.

The shooter, whose name I will not dignify by publishing, was motivated by the hatred that has been stoked by America’s far right, including President Trump and his allies.

The shooter was fixated on the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and their efforts to resettle and advocate for refugees and asylum seekers. HIAS has sought to help refugees since 1881, beginning with Jews fleeing Russia , and extending their hand to others in need as the situation arose.

Immigrants — refugees and otherwise — have been a common punching bag for Donald Trump since the early days of his campaign.

The President has engaged in fearmongering rhetoric about the migrant caravan, a group of refugees and economic migrants seeking freedom and prosperity in America in the grandest of American traditions.

This shooter, fearing the refugees and deeming them “invaders” sought to send a message by killing American Jews, who overwhelmingly support refugees and immigrants of all kinds.

HIAS had organised a National Refugee Shabbat and it enraged the shooter. He wrote :“Why hello there hias! You like to bring in hostile invaders to dwell among us?”

The future of the American Jews, American immigrants, and those seeking refuge in America are tied together, and we must stand up for one another.

While the man who held the gun is solely responsible for the loss of life, President Trump and his allies in the far right created the environment where antisemitism would grow — from the first day of his toxic, racially charged campaign.

It’s no coincidence that the surge in antisemitism has coincided with President Trump’s campaign and brutally xenophobic administration. He has emboldened hate across America.

The American left has largely ignored the American Jewish community’s entreaties to help us fight the growing threat to our community.

We can only pray that October 27 will serve as a wake-up call to Americans to fight antisemitism. This is the only way to stop that next day we know is coming, that next bloody attack on American Jews seeking only to live and worship freely in the land we call home.

October 29, 2018 06:03

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