JFREJ in the Media Roundup
Here are some of the ways the JFREJ community has responded to the massacre in Pittsburgh and other incidents of antisemitism in recent weeks.
Vice president Mike Pence has been criticised for appearing at a campaign rally with a “Messianic rabbi” – who invoked Jesus while mourning the deaths of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Rafael Shimunov, who is on the board of directors for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, tweeted that a Jewish rabbi would typically start a prayer with a Kaddish, a prayer for the dead, and a list of names of the deceased. Jacobs did not mention the names of any victims by name, but he did mention “Jesus the Messiah,” and “my Lord and Savior Yeshua” (another name for Jesus.) He also read a list of republican candidates for whom he asked the audience to pray. Shuminov continued to criticise the prayer in a Twitter thread, saying that the event “coopt[ed] our holiest traditions” and used it “to step on the dead.” He called Jacobs a “Christian rabbi.”
The Havdalah vigil took place at sundown, hours after the shooting and even before any of the victims’ names had been released. There were similar vigils Saturday night across the country, non-Jews coming together with Jews to express solidarity.
“I come to you with a very heavy heart broken in a million pieces based on what happened today,” Debbie Almontaser of the Muslim Community Network-NY said at a vigil in Union Square in Manhattan organized by Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.
After a week of hate-fueled attacks, we examine the “dotted line” from incitement to violence. We dig deep into tribalism and how it widens the gulf between Republicans and Democrats. Plus, the history of antisemitic propaganda and how it inspires modern-day violence. Also, why is the GOP is running against California in midterm races around the country?
This week on CounterSpin: There’s a reason the man who murdered 11 Jewish people in a Pittsburgh synagogue also ranted online about some thousands of mostly women and children making their way from Honduras to the US/Mexico border to seek asylum. It’s the same reason torch-wielding marchers chanting “Jews will not replace us!” in Charlottesville in 2015 stopped to beat up a black man: White supremacists connect Jewish people and black people and immigrants (and LGBTQ people and uppity women) in a worldview, about an existential threat to them as white Christian Americans.
Other people also have a worldview that connects Jews, black and brown people, immigrants and other disadvantaged communities—connects them in coalitions that recognize their shared vulnerability, and work together for social and economic justice. We’ll talk about the relationship between antisemitism and white supremacy, resistance, and how media could be part of the solution, with the executive director of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, Audrey Sasson.
Political violence and terrorism on this scale makes clear that it’s not the guns or the bombs, or even policy changes that can rip families apart and destroy lives that gives the right its power. Their single most effective and destructive weapon is an idea: white Christian nationalism.
Part of our Jewish community’s stumbling block to solidarity and allyship comes from the stories we tell ourselves, and how those stories shape us as a people. Our Jewish communities tell and retell stories of overcoming obstacles, of finding our way to liberation against all odds and of defeating our enemies in order to survive.
Kent goes on to describe the many times when Jews won their freedom in solidarity with others—and how so many struggles became more powerful when Jews stood up for them.
Fourteen protesters were arrested outside the Metropolitan Republican Club in the Upper East Side on Tuesday, following a sit-in demanding that the GOP confront and expel white nationalists from its own party.
The action, organized by Jewish activists affiliated with a range of progressive organizations, was held in response to this weekend’s synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh—the single most deadly attack on American Jews in the country’s history. As protesters sat shiva for the 11 victims, they sang Kaddish and banged on the doors of the GOP headquarters, while urging Republican leaders to more forcefully denounce violent extremism.
Sophie EG joined Rama Issa-Ibrahim from the Arab-American Association of New York to “talk about the rise of antisemitism and white nationalism — and how, despite our pain and trauma, and because of resilience and love and solidarity across difference, the Jewish community will outlive both.”
“It’s a very clear question: you either draw a line at white nationalist violence, or you don’t,” said Sophie Ellman-Golan, a member of The Jewish Vote, who helped organize Friday’s action at Golden’s office along with members of Yalla Brooklyn and the Muslim Democratic Club of NY. “It’s very clear Marty Golden does not. We’re asking him to fire Ian Reilly. We are asking him to unequivocally denounce white nationalist violence.”
Dania Rajendra On Shiva, Personal and Collective
In the wake of the mass murder at Tree of Life, Jewish protesters in New York held both our own particular grief as Jews, and our outrage rooted in solidarity—joining (or re-joining) the long list of the “directly impacted.” “We are here,” Tuesday’s protesters insisted, banging on the door of the Manhattan Republican Club. It was a message as much for other Jews as it is for the white Christian nationalists and the mainstream apologists. Muslim friends joined in solidarity. Part of the power of shiva is that it takes the mourner from the immensity of the absence of the dead to the insistence on the hereness of the mourner, and the others who join us in our mourning.