(October 29, 2018 / Mida) I’ve been staring at my screen for the last few hours, trying to work out my feelings about the Pittsburgh mass shooting inside a synagogue. I’ve been trying to find the right words to show how I feel. But how do you explain that kind of horror?
How do you explain the pain that exploded across our screen and across our lives? How do you convey evil in just a few paragraphs—for evil is what we saw today. Evil.
In its full purity, its full ugliness, its full horror and in its full hatred. Perhaps some might tell themselves, in a hopeful gesture of self-comfort, this was the act of a deranged madman. A lone wolf. Someone with mental issues. It wasn’t.
Because every single day, all around us, anti-Semitism is alive—festering, growing and becoming more deadly, more horrific and more violent. And there are people—so many people, too many people—who feed that hatred.
Louis Farrakhan called me a “termite” to a crowd who laughed and cheered in response. He hasn’t been ostracized from society but applauded by people like Tamika Mallory, who not only defended him, but reaped lavish praise on him in social media. She considers herself some kind of leader in human rights.
Linda Sarsour, another person who thinks she has some moral authority, says I’m creepy. She also says Israelis must not be “humanized.” The Nazis said the same thing about my people—and ended up wiping out 6 million of them while the world stood by, their eyes down, twiddling their thumbs and shuffling their feet.
The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, says I’m hook-nosed, trying to rule the world and kill all Muslims. Yet society hasn’t ostracized him either.
Mahmoud Abbas, the dictator of the Palestinian Authority, says he won’t allow my “filthy feet” to desecrate their holy sites. He also says I brought the Holocaust on myself—and at the same time denies it took place. Yet he is still spoken of as a man of peace who is honorable and greeted with warmth by leaders of governments all around the world.
Jenny Tonge, the House of Lords member and renowned Jew-hater, blames Israel for the attack, saying the acts of the Israeli government is reigniting anti-Semitism.
David Duke said at a rally a couple of years ago that “there is a problem in America with a very strong, powerful tribal group that dominates our media and dominates our international banking.” That problem he was talking about is Jews.
Nazi flags were on full display at right-wing rallies in Charlottesville, Va., and on the Gaza border with Israel, where many Arabs continue to gather in anticipation of committing mass murder.
The list goes on and on and on and on …
Anti-Semitism didn’t explode today; it’s been exploding for so many years. It’s the oldest hatred of all and the most unifying because it is the one thing the extremists on the left and right can agree on.
Since the end of World War II, it often lived on the fringe of society. But not anymore and not for a while. Now it’s gone mainstream. It is festered in political parties around the world, broadcast by those who call themselves leaders of morality and liberal values.
Hatred is uniting, and Jews are once again—as they’ve often found themselves throughout history—caught in the middle.
Today, Jews were attacked—and not because they were left-wing or right-wing. Not because they were conservative or liberal. Not because they supported Donald Trump or supported Hilary Clinton. They were attacked because they were Jews. It’s really that simple.
And they were attacked during a service in the middle of the most ancient tradition between God and the Jewish people: a bris. The oldest ceremony in Judaism, where God made a covenant with his people—a covenant for eternity.
There are too many tears that will be shed today and in the following days. There is too much pain that will be felt. There is too much trauma that will reverberate throughout the Jewish world and the world of all decent people, shaking our very core.
And our hearts—our hearts will break—as they so often have in the past and so often will in the future. But our hearts will not stop beating. They will never stop. Scarred and hurt, bruised and injured yet they will continue to beat, just as they always have and just as they always must.
We, the Jewish people, will continue to live just as we always have and just as we always must.
Justin Amler is a noted South African born, Australia-based writer and commentator on international issues.
You can find more in-depth articles on Israel and the Middle East @en.mida.org.il.