Words fail and analysis becomes trite. Indeed we must guard against the paralysis of analysis . After Pittsburgh, images flood back of Charlie Hebdo, Hypermarché Cacher, the Emmanuel 9, Jewish school shootings and so many other racist killings of the “other” in our era. But after Pittsburgh it is necessary to state what is still so sadly true. And they are hard and inconvenient truths because they will give little comfort to those who cry out for understanding, brotherhood and ask “why?”
First, anti-Semitic acts are becoming more frequent and horrific but people should not have ever believed that anti-semitism was dead or dying. It merely moves into dark shadows. Whenever people look to blame others for their own failed lives they demonize the Jew. It will always be so. We live in the post-Holocaust era. The idea of the destruction of the Jewish people reached it’s zenith in a nation considered the most cultured of its time with the most integrated and assimilated Jewish population in histroy. Germany. Mankind will not cross the Jordan. If it happened there, it can truly happen anywhere. And it is. Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States rose by nearly 50% last year and nearly 30% in Canada. Unprecedented spikes in modern times. We will constantly be fighting this scourge.
Second, race hatred will always spark into race murder when the simmering nightcrawlers lurking in the underbelly of society draw validation from a public discourse that is filled with what Martin Luther King, Jr. called words of “nullification and interposition” meant to sow division and discord between groups and communities for political advantage. Whether from the Nazis of Charlottesville or the Louis Farrakhans calling Jews “termites.” We all have a responsibility to fight this. It Is not up to the other guy. And it will not help to turn our streets and institutions into armed camps with armed guards. It is up to us to fight such attitudes every day and in a thousand little ways whenever we see them. It is not easy. There is no guarantee of success. But we must continue for our own dignity and self-respect as citizens of democracies. And more importantly, we must not shield our young people from this ugliness but rather inform them that this is the reality of the world and they too must marshall a resolve to repair it. Without this effort our standing as free people has little meaning.
Finally, we must face the fact that though we can never eradicate hate, we can eliminate the access to the means of mass murder by the haters. It is one thing to support the right to bear arms. It is quite another to turn our faces and stay in mute denial of the incontrovertible reality that M-16s and AK-47s and other military-grade arms have been the primary weapons of mass destruction in all the bloody history of these slaughters. It is one thing to own a pistol for personal protection or a rifle for hunting. It is quite another to allow people to purchase multiple weapons that can fire hundreds of rounds in two minutes. And no it is not merely an American challenge. As the Las Vegas killings of 53 demonstrated, so many Canadians are in the United States on any given day that gun control is now a continental imperative. The Founding Fathers of America would never have countenanced the private ownership of army cannons.
For now, let us remember the martyrs of the Etz Chaim Synagogue. May their memory be always for a blessing, particularly that of 97 year old Rose Malinger who survived the ravages of the Holocaust only to be cut down in the peace of the sanctuary where she prayed and where she was celebrating a Bris on her last Shabbat in this vale of tears. Let us remember them....