Shocked, but Not Surprised: Tragic Synagogue Shooting

The Jambar Editorial Board would like to say we are saddened that yet another shooting occurred in the United States, but we are not surprised at all. This tragic, hate-filled massacre felt different, though. We cannot allow this to be dismissed; we cannot be silent.

Forty-six-year-old Robert Bowers allegedly opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on the Jewish Sabbath on Oct. 27, killing 11 and wounding six more, including four police officers, according to multiple reports.

USA Today reported the gunman shouted, “All Jews must die,” causing federal prosecutors to file hate crime charges against him. CNN reports that if convicted, he could face the death penalty.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that aims to fight against defamation and hate, the organization believes the Saturday attack is “the deadliest on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”

Jacob Labendz, director of the Youngstown State University Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies and assistant professor in the history department, said when he heard about the shooting, he was preparing to leave the next day to give a lecture on alt-right anti-Semitism and the place of performative anti-Semitism in American culture.

He said it was difficult to be away from Youngstown during this time because of how close it is to Pittsburgh.

“I’m trying as a scholar of anti-Semitism — who writes about the alt-right and have been following it for a very long time — to be a resource locally and more broadly for people trying to think about this,” Labendz said.

“Shocked, but not surprised,” is one phrase Labendz used to describe his initial reaction to the tragic event. This is reinforced by the statement released by the ADL after the shooting.

“This violence occurs at a time when ADL has reported a historic increase in both anti-Semitic incidents and anti-Semitic online harassment.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex) appeared on Fox News on Oct. 22 and said, “I can’t help but think that the Democrats — perhaps [George] Soros — may be funding this, thinking it’s going to help them,” discussing the migrant caravan composed of thousands of undocumented Central Americans who are reportedly heading to the United States.

According to a report by the New York Times, Bowers posted his anti-Semitic views on the social media site, Gab, which “has become a haven for white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other extremists.”

“It’s the filthy EVIL jews Bringing the Filthy EVIL Muslims into the Country!!” Bowers wrote in a post, according to the Times.

This is disgusting. The acts of the current administration absolutely legitimize anti-Semitism, and Labendz said it reveals the deep connection between anti-Semitism and other forms of racism in the United States. He emphasizes he wants people to realize that words matter. He is exactly right.

A vigil and educational event will be held at YSU on Friday as a tribute to those who died in Pittsburgh in Kilcawley Center. The Jambar will update the time and location when more information is received.

There will also be a vigil held by the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation and the Board of Rabbis of Greater Youngstown on Thursday at Temple El Emeth located on 3970 Logan Way, Youngstown, Ohio, at 6 p.m.

Go to these vigils. Stand with those that have been affected by the shooting. Let them know that they are not alone and change needs to be made.