White supremacist terror against the Jewish community of Pittsburgh

Statement by the Pittsburgh Branch of the PSL

On Saturday morning October 27, 2018, terror came to Pittsburgh in the form of white-supremacist and anti-Semitic violence. Eleven people were killed and four seriously injured when a fascist opened fire at a peaceful worship service at the Tree of Life synagogue, reportedly shouting “Death to all Jews!”

We, the members of the Pittsburgh PSL branch, are each in some way significantly affected by the horrific act of white supremacist terrorism that occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of our city. Some of our members personally know members of the Tree of Life congregation and we stand in solidarity with all of our Jewish sisters and brothers. We are grieving for our city and all those affected by this cowardly act of bigotry and hate. The tragedy is made all the worse by the fact that the anti-Semitic, white supremacist who carried out this reprehensible violence was reacting against the goodness of those reaching out to immigrants and refugees through the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), a group that assists immigrants and refugees of all faiths and all nationalities. It is hardly a coincidence that such a group was targeted the same week Trump spewed anti-immigrant rhetoric against the caravan of migrant families from Central America heading to the United States.

The number of anti-Semitic and white supremacist acts of violence in the United States is dramatically on the increase since Donald Trump became president. Anti-Semitic hate crimes are significantly on the rise since 2016, and the Atlantic magazine reports that “white supremacists committed the largest share of domestic-extremist related killings” in 2017. Just two days ago a white supremacist killed two Black people in cold blood in Kentucky, and it was reported that the bomber from Florida was also a white supremacist.

Thus, Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf’s official statement that “These senseless acts of violence are not who we are as Americans” is contrary to the reality of the rampant racism and white supremacy that permeates U.S. society. No less preposterous were Donald Trump’s insensitive remarks insinuating that had the synagogue had armed guards the tragedy might have been averted. Neither of these statements match up with the concrete situation in the United States, where Donald Trump’s self-avowed nationalism has been rightly correlated to the rise of violence associated with white supremacism, racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, transphobia, and, now, increasingly, anti-Semitism.

Racism and white supremacy are not new in the United States. They are a significant part of its history and capitalist politics. What is relatively new is how emboldened white supremacists and racists have become since the election of Donald Trump.

We in the PSL will stand in solidarity with all oppressed peoples and organize against fascism in whatever form it manifests itself, whether it is anti-Semitism against the Jewish community, anti-Muslim bigotry, xenophobia targeting immigrants or racist police violence against Black people, as we struggle to end the evils of fascism, racism and capitalism in our time. Make no mistake, this incident is not isolated. Fascism is on the rise in the United States, and it is more critical than ever that we organize to defeat it.

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