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Pittsburgh Jewish Group Upbraids Trump in Powerful Letter

Mark Dixon / Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump often shields himself from criticism of anti-Semitism by hiding behind his Jewish daughter and son-in-law, but some Jewish leaders aren’t buying it. Following the mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in which 11 people were killed, members of a progressive Jewish organization wrote an open letter to Trump, telling him he’s unwelcome in their city until he denounces white nationalism.

The letter was written by 11 members of the Pittsburgh chapter of Bend the Arc, a national progressive Jewish organization. “President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism,” the group writes.

“Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted,” they continue. “… 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.”

The writers also directly link Trump’s rhetoric against multiple minority groups, and his policies, to the Pittsburgh shooting, explaining, “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.”

Trump was criticized for his remarks following the violence in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 during a rally for multiple far-right groups. He claimed there was “blame on both sides,” while neglecting to mention the white supremacist aims behind the rally.

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in America. According to data from the Anti-Defamation League, there was a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States in 2017. Speaking to The New York Times, Deborah E. Lipstadt, professor of Holocaust history at Emory University, said, “I’m not a Chicken Little who’s always yelling, ‘It’s worse than it’s ever been!’ But now I think it’s worse than it’s ever been.”

Members of Bend the Arc Pittsburgh are afraid but undaunted and are committed to working in collaboration with multiple groups that have been the targets of Trump and his supporters: “The Torah teaches that every human being is made b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. This means all of us.”

Read the full letter here.

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