11 dead in America’s worst anti-Semitic attack

Heartbroken: Hundreds gathered for a candlelit vigil at Squirrel Hill on Saturday night.

Can we ever defeat anti-Semitism? On Saturday morning, a gunman walked into a synagogue in the US city of Pittsburgh and opened fire. The tragedy is a reminder of anti-Semitism’s deadly legacy.

On Saturday morning, members of a close-knit Jewish community in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, gathered at the Tree of Life Synagogue for a service.

The serenity was shattered when a man walked in and opened fire on the congregation. “All Jews must die,” he shouted.

Eleven people were killed, including a 97-year-old woman.

The suspect, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, remains in hospital with multiple gunshot wounds after a shoot-out with police.

The community is in shock.

“I am a different Jew today than I was yesterday,” said 15-year-old Sophia Levin, who lives nearby.

As Christianity grew in the second century, early Church fathers like Tertullian spread negative stories about Judaism to attract more converts.

Anti-Semitism in modern times has often centred on conspiracy theories about Jews controlling the media and global finances.

The horrors of the holocaust awoke the world to the dangerous consequences of anti-Semitism, but now it is on the rise again.

According the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish campaign group, anti-Semitic incidents in the US surged by 57% last year.

Can we defeat anti-Semitism?

History’s oldest hatred

Sadly, it’s unlikely, say some. Anti-Semitism has been widespread for much of history; the past 70 years of relative peace for Jews are an achievement, but historically unusual. In addition, the incendiary rhetoric of President Donald Trump and the toxic extremes of modern politics are not promising signs for the future.

There is hope, reply others. The level of public discourse condemning the re-emergence of anti-Semitism is promising; it shows that society will not turn a blind eye to hate. If individuals call out anti-Semitism where they see it and fight its destructive messages, we can make sure crimes like these are a thing of the past.

You Decide

  1. Will we ever eradicate anti-Semitism?

Activities

  1. Research persecution faced by the Jewish people. Create a timeline of their history up to the creation of Israel.

Some People Say...

“Anti-Semitism is a problem for all of us who care about justice in the world.”

Darren Walker

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
On Saturday morning, a gunman opened fire in a synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, killing 11 people. A shoot-out with police ensued, in which several police officers and the suspect were injured.
What do we not know?
Whether anti-Semitism will ever be defeated. After the holocaust, anti-Semitic views were firmly rejected, but incidents of hatred towards Jews are on the rise.

Word Watch

Serenity
A state of calm and peace.
Tertullian
An early Christian writer from Carthage in north Africa who helped shape Latin Christianity. He contributed to negative portrayals of Jews.
Conspiracy theories
Anti-Semites have often spread false and baseless rumours of an international Jewish conspiracy to control governments and financial institutions.
Holocaust
Six million Jews across Europe were systematically killed by the Nazis during the Second World War. Most of the victims were killed in concentration camps.

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