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Anti-Defamation League CEO Shuts Trump Down After President’s Shock Over Synagogue Attack

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The horrific attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh over the weekend was heinous beyond description. It is said to have been the worst attack on a synagogue in the history of the United States. The total death toll currently stands at 11 and at least seven others were seriously injured.

The horrendous incident is sadly just the latest manifestation of a clear trend. We have seen a spike in acts of prejudicially-motivated attacks on the bases of race and religion in recent months and years and it is not difficult to see where that comes from.

Political polarisation is good for precisely no one. We know all too well about the hateful rhetoric that is shamelessly churned out not just by Trump‘s White House but by right-leaning voices the world over. This is what happens when people aren’t held accountable for the way they speak and act in public. This is what happens when ill-fitting people are thrust into the highest public offices.

This sad indictment of our nation and society was echoed recently by Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. He commented that anti-Semitism, as a source of attention-grabbing rhetoric and – even more horrifyingly – as an actual ideology has wormed its way “from the margins into the mainstream.” He was not reluctant to make the connection between the hate and attacks and the concurrent political rhetoric and climate.

Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

“Political candidates and people in public life now literally repeat the rhetoric of white supremacists,” Greenblatt said. “They think it’s normal and permissible to talk about Jewish conspiracies, manipulating events or Jewish financers somehow controlling activities. And that is awful.”

He’s absolutely right. It cannot be stressed enough how imperative it is that people are made to see that their actions have consequences, that their words don’t just float off into the ether never to be seen again, but that people actually pay attention to what they say.

Greenblatt went on to explain how other factors which are equally difficult to keep tabs on such as social media also have a role to play. “Not only is the political environment contributing to this, social media is amplifying and accelerating it in shocking ways,” he said. “Silicon Valley is a part of the problem and needs to be a part of the solution.”

Regarding Trump specifically, Greenblatt’s comments were measured and sensible – but he didn’t pull any punches. Responding to Trump’s apparent surprise that anti-Semitism still exists “in this day and age”, Greenblatt said: “Unfortunately, he’s wrong on that. We are living in a moment where anti-Semitism is almost becoming normalized. And that should shock and move all of us to act.”


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