Jewish leaders of the Pittsburgh area have told President Donald Trump that he is not welcome in Pittsburgh at this time. They said that until the president denounces white nationalism they cannot willingly accept his presence in their community.
The Jewish leaders are members of the Pittsburgh affiliate of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice.
Following Saturday morning’s mass murder at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood Trump’s comments have caused controversy, and some people blame him for the massacre. As a result the eleven Jewish leaders wrote a letter to Trump expressing their views.
“Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted,” the group wrote. “You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country.”
The group also said Trump is not welcome in the city until he also stops targeting minorities, immigrants and refugees.
The president has “spread lies and sowed fear about migrant families in Central America,” the group wrote, and then added:
“The murderer’s last public statement invoked the compassionate work of the Jewish refugee service HIAS at the end of a week in which you spread lies and sowed fear about migrant families in Central America. He killed Jews in order to undermine the efforts of all those who find shared humanity with immigrants and refugees.”
“The Torah teaches that every human being is made b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. This means all of us. In our neighbors, Americans, and people worldwide who have reached out to give our community strength, there we find the image of God.”
“President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you cease your assault on immigrants and refugees.”
“In our neighbors, Americans, and people worldwide who have reached out to give our community strength, there we find the image of God. While we cannot speak for all Pittsburghers, or even all Jewish Pittsburghers, we know we speak for a diverse and unified group when we say:
“President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us.”
On Saturday night Trump called the act “an anti-Semitic attack at its worst.” He then said he would soon travel to Pittsburgh, though he didn’t give any specific time frame for his visit.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that it should be “up to the families themselves” whether President Donald Trump attends any memorial event for those killed on Saturday.
Jewish law dictates that the dead be buried within 24 to 48 hours, so Trump might not arrive soon enough for any memorial services, Peduto said.
“You know, this is a conservative synagogue,” Peduto said. “So, the funerals will be very quickly — as soon as tomorrow. So that’s really up to the families and whether they would want the president to be here.”
A memorial service for the victims was held on Sunday and was attended by 2,500 people.
Robert Gregory Bowers, 46, has been arrested and charged with the deaths of 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue. The attack on the synagogue is the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.
Pope Francis on Sunday strongly condemned the attack, calling for the stamping out of “hotbeds of hate” and for stronger moral and civil values.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.