Commentary: Hate Will Not Replace Us

A gunman opened fire on the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pa. on Saturday, October 28, and killed 11 people, according to The New York Times. The tragic deaths of these individuals have resonated across the Andover community and the United States at large, reminding us of the violence that hate can cause.

Unfortunately, this shooting is one event in a much greater, and much more troubling, trend in the public resurgence of anti-Semitism. According to findings published by the Anti-Defamation League (A.D.L.), nationwide incidents of anti-Semitism increased by 57 percent in 2017, one of the biggest leaps since the A.D.L. first began tracking these events in 1979.

During the white supremacist marches in Charlottesville, Va. last year, white nationalists held signs that read, “Jews will not replace us.” More recently, following his arrest, the Pittsburgh shooter proclaimed that he “wanted all Jews to die.”

Without a doubt, the hate in these events speaks for itself. But, it also speaks to the unexpressed sentiments held by countless other people. Although the shooting in Pittsburgh was an isolated event, there are others who may be capable of committing such a crime, and even more who support the ideologies the gunman stood for.

These attacks were not solely on the Tree of Life Congregation, but on all Jewish congregations, all synagogues, and all of their members. But, even more so, they are an attack on America — on Jews and non-Jews alike — and an affront to our ability to express ourselves.

Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said, “We are a tree of life. You may cut off a couple branches… We will rebuild, and we will return, stronger than ever.  I will not let hate close down my building.”

It is imperative that we acknowledge instances of anti-Semitism. Many Americans think that hatred toward the Jewish religion and people ended with the Holocaust. Time, however, has no moral direction; progress is not inevitable, and the years separating us from the horrors of the past do not separate us from our obligation to address hatred as it exists in the present.

We might be tempted to add each new story to a list of other devastating events, and to not acknowledge the underlying forces that led them to be actualized. But as a community and as a nation, we cannot become desensitized to the endless stories of hate circulating through many major media outlets. It is important, if not crucial, to call out and denounce every act of hate we see. We can and we must do better.

This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian, vol. CXLI.