Friday, January 21, 2022

A statement after the Colleyville synagogue attack

GMW Federation Solidarity Gathering before Shabbat, January 21, 2022

We know why Malik Faisal Akram attacked Beth Israel in Colleyville Texas.  He believed in Antisemitism.  He believed that Jews are a conspiracy that is behind everything he thought was wrong in the world.  He believed that pointing a gun at a rabbi, and making him call a more prominent rabbi - would pull the strings of a hidden conspiracy to free a woman who shared his conspiracy theories about Jews.  And he is not alone.

Moderate voices of hate empower radical voices of hate.  Since we truly believe in democracy, justice and equity, we will have political differences, and we must oppose political and economic injustices as we see them.  But, when any person blames an entire group of people, whether a race, a culture, or a religion, for the political, economic or social situation that they hate, then they transfer that hate to all members of that group. It is lazy, stupid and inevitably violent.

That is how all hatred, bigotry and prejudice works.  The racist might blame black people for crime.  The islamophobe will name Islam terrorism.  The homophobe will slur gay, lesbian, transgender or non-conforming individuals as pederasts or deviants.  And the antisemite will blame the Jews for anything and everything.

Hatred is self-affirming.  It requires no logic or facts.  The capitalist antisemite calls Jews communists.  The Communist antisemite calls Jews bankers.  The counter cultural antisemite says Jews control hollywood.    The QAnon antisemite thinks Jews run a deep state conspiracy in the American government. The white supremcist and xenophobic antisemite says Jews are seeking to destroy this country and the white race by supporting immigration.  The antizionist antisemite accuses Jews of hating muslims, Palestinians and Arabs and accuses Jews of attempted genocide. The Al Qaeda antisemite thinks Jews control the American military. 

The attacker in Colleyville was an Antisemite.  The attack was on Jews and a peaceful house of worship.  Not because he was insane, but because he was a believer.  He had read and believed the voices of hate who turn their political anger into Jew hatred.  He joined the long line of bombers, shooters, and haters who have maintained this Antisemitic cancer and polluted society after society for hundreds of years. Pittsburgh.  Poway. Colleyville. Charleston.  El Paso. Christchurch.  They know each other’s work.  They quote each other’s conspiracies.  They hate in common cause. And the Jew is central to each of their fantasies.

Scapegoating people to demonize, dehumanize and destroy their dignity denies the image of God that lives within each of us.  When will we finally admit that anyone who holds hatred in their heart and mind will eventually hold a gun in their hand or embolden another to do so.

Every one of us must be on guard.  We must be on guard not only against those who drew swastikas at my synagogue last month or who attacked Beth Israel last week. We must be on guard, whether Christian, Muslim, or Jew, against the grouping, the stereotyping, the building of  narratives of evil that drive fantasies of hate.  And every one of us must call it out in our own communities whenever and wherever we see it.  Listen. Explore. Dialogue. Understand. Improve. Maybe even Love. And in all things, refuse to empower hate.

Hatred is on the rise.  Antisemitism is on the rise. The attacks are increasing.  The world is a dangerous place, but if we can join together like this in common cause to oppose hate - we can face it unafraid.

In the words of Rabbi Nachman of Batslav, the world is a very narrow bridge, and it is essential not to be afraid.  That message of assurance and hope was in the hearts and minds of all peoples of peace in this country, in Israel and the world, and it is presented to us today by the IDF Education Corps’ to encourage us to not be afraid.  It is essential to not give in to fear.

Thank you.