All over these United States, Jewish leaders have expressed their shock and horror at what took place at the Etz Chaim Synagogue in Pittsburgh last Shabbat. Etz Chaim is the Hebrew for The Tree of Life.
Interfaith vigils have been held or are being planned this week including right here where I live in Des Moines, Iowa.
I have often referred to myself in a jokey way as the Jew in the Bible Belt, but the reality is there are many more of us here. I’m just one who stands tall and strong and is not afraid to tell the world what my religious and cultural background is.
So over the weekend yet another anti-Semite killed some of my Jewish brothers and sisters. I will not say his name on my radio show as I never say the names of those responsible for mass shootings.
He screamed as many have screamed before him "all Jews must die" and then as I’m equally sure has happened before, wounded, he was treated by Jewish Doctors and Nurses while he verbally abused them.
There are many people who have expressed truly disgusting sentiments about the Jewish Community in the past, but over the weekend expressed their shock and horror. If we let that go unchecked, or worse thank them, then we are part of the problem.
Keith Ellison is a prime example. He claimed limited contact with Louis Farrakhan in the mid-1990s — a man who has uttered numerous anti-Semitic slurs and once said Hitler was a "great man." Ellison received Four Pinocchio’s from The Washington Post for saying his connections to the man ended in the 1990s. We know they were still going on as recently as 2015.
So when he tweets, “I am deeply disturbed by the attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and my heart breaks for the victims and their families. Anti-Semitism and hate-motivated violence have no place in our society. We must all stand in solidarity with the Jewish community during this tragic time,” strong Jews must call him out.
We all know where the media stands when it comes to President Trump. This shooter did not fit the pro-Trump white supremacist that they had hoped for, so they found another way to blame the president.
Even Jews are blaming the president. I’ve seen some blaming Israel for what happened or the president for moving our Embassy to where it rightfully belongs — Jerusalem — the biblical and modern undivided Capital of Israel.
There is certainly a lack of Jewish identity and pride in the United States.
Well not this Jew. I’m a proud American of Jewish heritage. I’m proud that our president did something that has actually been law in this country for a very long time when he moved our Embassy to Jerusalem.
What was going on when that Jew-hating monster entered the Tree of Life Synagogue on Shabbat? A brit milah — the circumcision of an eight day old baby to fulfil a covenant made between G-d and Abraham. It is a ceremony as old as Judaism itself.
My own grandson Jacob — the name of Abraham’s grandson too by the way — had his ceremony less than a year ago.
I know what anti-Semitism is. My own father was literally crucified when he was a young boy in the 1930s in London. They drove nails through the palms of his hands and nailed him up.
I attended a religious Jewish school in London. Our soccer team did things Jewish boys were not supposed to do — we won! And so some of the other schools thought we deserved to be beaten up because of it. It didn’t end well for them, because we were not those quiet Jews.
We need not be those quiet Jews now in America either. We should stand up proudly! We should allow congregants who have concealed carry permits to go to the Temple armed. People willing to attack should know it won’t end well for them.
And the ‘leaders’ of the Jewish Community should also stand up straight and tall and say loudly that if you attack us in our places of prayer, we will follow the president’s advice and there will be armed Jews waiting for you inside.
We do not seek to impose our religion on any who don’t want it. We do not wish harm on anyone either. But we will stand up and loudly identify who we are and fulfil this American promise of Freedom of Religion enshrined in that greatest of all manmade documents — the United States Constitution.
Simon Conway is the afternoon drive host of News Radio 1040 WHO-AM in Des Moines, Iowa, a 50,000-watt powerhouse where Ronald Reagan started his career. Conway was born in London. He began his professional career as a 16-year-old journalist at the Jerusalem Post in 1976. Read more reports from Simon Conway — Click Here Now.
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