Yesterday, Saturday morning, 27 October 2018, a shooter with a long history of anti-Jewish hate speech on social media entered the Tree of Life Congregation in the Pittsburgh community of Squirrel Hill and shot and killed 11 congregants with an AR-15 assault rifle and several handguns. The assailant, Robert D. Bowers, 46, had recently berated the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) for its long mission of helping Jews flee persecution. Bowers was apprehended by police at the Congregation soon after reports began phoning in.
President Trump denounced the attack but also added that if the temple "had some kind of protection" then "it could have been a much different situation." Actually, the Tree of Life Congregation had put in place an active shooter response training program last year, and members of the congregation were following these protocols, thus saving many in the building.
This attack comes in the wake of pipe bombs mailed to critics of Trump, including one sent to George Soros, a major donor to Democratic candidates, a Jew and a survivor of the Nazi occupation in Hungary. And last week a Senate campaign sign for Josh Hawley, attorney general of Missouri, was sprayed with a swastika. According to an Anti-Defamation League's report earlier this year, the number of reported anti-Jewish incidents in the US has increased by 57% over the past two years.
The KU Jewish Studies Program is appalled by this massacre and horrified by the alarming increase in hate crimes in the past two years. We are in solidarity with all people targeted by hate crimes and especially with the Jewish communities of KU, Lawrence, and Kansas City.
The Jewish Studies Program remains a supportive space for the KU Jewish community and its allies -- faculty, students, and staff. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any issues or suggestions that you may have.
Much of this text comes from the NY Times report of Oct. 27, 2018, by C. Robertson, C. Mele, and S. Tavernise: https://nytimes.com
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