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Since Saturday, I’ve had a hypothetical in mind: what if this shooting had happened to Haredi Jews, like those in Brooklyn or Lakewood? Would we have had such an outpouring of support, such an outcry against what transpired?
For as much as we’ve heard about increases in anti-Semitism, the vast majority of the incidents contained within the statistics are vandalism incidents in cemeteries, etc. The most horrifying stories I’ve ever heard, bar none, come from my friends who can never hide their Jewishness (not that they would ever try); Haredi Jews and those who wear yarmulkes; women who wear a wig and a long skirt with stockings.
As a Jew who usually finds it hard to be offended by idiotic, emoting leftists spewing irrational assertions, this may be one of the vilest, most deranged and dangerous things I have read. The Atlantic’s columnist Franklin Foer (former editor of The New Republic) essentially casts blame for the Pittsburgh horror on Conservative Jews.
In Donald Trump’s abhorrence for globalism and in his inability to smack down David Duke, it was easy to hear the ominous chords of history, to see how he was activating dormant hatreds with his conspiratorial tropes.
This is a President that fulfilled his promise to move the American Embassy to Israel’s capital, Jeruselum. This is a President that has reversed Obama’s capitulation on the Iranian regime who’s mullahs refuse to accept Israel as a legitimate nation and continually call for Jews to be pushed out to sea. This is a President who has a Jewish daughter and son-in-law and grandchildren. A man who prayed at the Western Wall, the holiest Jewish spot on earth.
Saturday morning, an unspeakable tragedy unfolded at a Jewish Temple in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh. I stared at the TV in stunned silence, as my gut tightened into a painful knot. As I watched law enforcement running among flashing lights and chaos, the details emerged of mass casualties and injured. I turned to Fox News and saw the beautiful neighborhood where I once lived, with Fall trees aglow in bright orange, red and yellow, shadowed by mass casualty trucks and men in fatigues carrying assault weapons. A spokesman for the city said ‘an attack on this community and faith is an attack on all of our communities and faiths’. I knew these were not mere words of comfort, but a deep truth that all who are from Pittsburgh understand. Later in life, Squirrel Hill’s predominantly Jewish population would embrace me on a personal level.
As a child growing up in Brookline, a suburb of Pittsburgh, my classrooms and friends were composed of Italians, Jews, Greeks, Lebanese, Syrians, Irish, Poles, and Ukrainians. I was as familiar with delicious ethnic foods, holidays and traditions as though they were my own, and some were. In my early twenties, I shared several apartments near the Tree of Life Synagogue. I could walk to work on Murray Avenue, back in my retail days. As I shopped at the local markets, I noticed numbers tattooed on people’s arms. At first, I didn’t understand, but I soon realized these were first-generation survivors of the Holocaust, to me the worst period in recent human history. I was invited to a Jewish wedding reception in Squirrel Hill, where praise and thanks, tears and clapping abundantly poured out because this extended family “had survived.” This was not normal, something that I was not familiar with — sheer survival in the midst of extreme evil.
The Jewish community in this area, as other ethnic communities in Pittsburgh, while tightly woven together, talking about tremendous suffering, grateful to be alive, to have children and grandchildren, could still laugh and joke, be successful and stuff you with more food.
Engelhard contrasts the removal of Megyn Kelly from a daily TV show, despite her tearful apology for a blackface comment, with the apathy towards overt expressions of anti-Semitism, which are not even a blip on the radar of the media and academia. Al Roker self-righteously condemned Kelly, her apology notwithstanding. Per Engelhard: “Will she ever be forgiven? I ask because as King Solomon would have had it, there is a time to accuse, and there is a time to forgive. But this is not the time to forgive, here in America.”