SYNAGOGUE MASSACRE

It’s a sad and somber start to the week as the families of the 11 people killed in Saturday’s synagogue rampage in Pittsburgh prepare to bury the dead and continue to ease the pain of those hurt in the carnage.  This comes just after the serial bomber scare, and senseless race-related murders in Texas, and continued heated political discourse, we seem to be a country at odds and on the brink.

Aired on October 29, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> WE NEED TO SEND A MESSAGE THAT WE WILL NEVER TOLERATE ANTI-SEMITISM, THAT WE DON'T TAKE IT LIGHTLY AND LOOK THE OTHER WAY, THAT WE DON'T SWEEP IT UNDER THE RUG.

ANTI-SEMITISM IS TRAGICALLY ALIVE AND WELL IN THIS COUNTRY AND MUST BE STOPPED.

NEW YORK MAYOR BILL De BLASIO CALLING FOR PEACE, UNITY AND SAFETY IN THE WAKE OF SATURDAY'S MASSACRE THAT LEFT 11 PEOPLE DEAD IN PITTSBURGH'S TREE OF LIFE OF SYNAGOGUE.

WELCOME TO THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

THIS WEEK'S MASSACRE AT THE TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE IN THE SQUIRREL HILL SECTION OF PITTSBURGH WILL FOREVER BE KNOWN AS THE DEADLIEST ATTACK ON THE JEWISH COMMUNITY IN THE UNITED STATES.

THE HORRIFIC EVENT LEFT 11 DEAD, 6 WOUNDED AND FURTHER EXPOSED A FESTERING WOUND OF DIVISION AND HATE ENGULFING AMERICA.

FOR CONTEXT, SQUIRREL HILL IS A BUCOLIC SUBURBAN COMMUNITY, NOW FOREVER CHANGED.

FOR US AND PBS, IT'S ALSO WHERE FLED ROGERS CALLED HOME, LITERALLY.

'MR. ROGERS NEIGHBORHOOD' IS NOW THE LOCATION OF THE DEADLIEST ATTACK ON THE JEWISH COMMUNITY IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.

AS FAMILIES GATHER TO BURY THE DEAD, THE NATION WATCHES STUNNED.

FROM COAST TO COAST AND AROUND THE WORLD, JOINED IN MEMORIALS, RALLIES, PRAYERS, AND PROTESTS, HERE IN NEW YORK, CROWDS AS DIVERSE AS OUR CITY GATHERED IN UNION SQUARE AND AS SYNAGOGUES IN SOLIDARITY AND DEEP MOURNING AND DEEP DISBELIEF THAT THIS HAPPENED IN A WEEK THAT WE ALSO SAW SOME OF THE PRESIDENT'S HARSHEST CRITICED TARGETED BY A SERIAL BOMBER, MEANT TO ARRIVE AT CNN, INTERCEPTED THIS MORNING.

AND THE SENSELESS KILLING OF TWO AFRICAN-AMERICANS BY A WHITE MAN IN KENTUCKY, ALTHOUGH POLICE SAID IT WAS TOO SOON WHAT PROMPTED THAT SHOOTING, NEWS OUTLETS HAVE REPORTED THAT THE SUSPECT SAID 'WHITES DON'T SHOOT WHITES.'

AS HE EXITED THE KENTUCKY KROGER.

OUR COUNTRY GRIEVES AS WE LEARN ABOUT THE VICTIMS.

THEIR AGES RANGED FROM 54 YEARS OLD TO 97.

SO JOINING ME NOW WITH REACTION IS THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF THE ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE, EVAN BERNSTEIN.

EVAN, WELCOME BACK TO THE SHOW.

I WISH IT WAS ON BETTER SHOWS, BUT WE ARE GLAD TO HAVE YOU HERE.

FOR THE RECORD, YOUR REACTION, YOUR STATEMENT TO THE PAST WEEK THAT WE'VE JUST SEEN?

IT'S HEARTBREAKING.

YOU KNOW, WHAT OUR COUNTRY IS GOING THROUGH, PITTSBURGH COMMUNITY IS GOING THROUGH, WHAT NEW YORK WENT THROUGH WITH ALL THESE ASSAULTS LAST WEEK AND WE HAD A RASH OF GRAFFITI, CLEARLY WHAT'S GOING ON AROUND THE COUNTRY IS A HEARTBREAKING TIME FOR US TO WORK IN CIVIL RIGHTS AND TRYING TO FIGHT HATE EVERY DAY.

IT'S GETTING MORE AND MORE DIFFICULT.

WE OF COURSE HEARD SEVERAL ELECTED OFFICIALS, AT LEAST HERE AT THE LOCAL LEVEL TALK ABOUT BRINGING DOWN THE TEMPERATURE OF THE RHETORIC, THE TONE OF OUR POLITICAL DISCOURSE, IS THAT WHAT YOU SEE AT THE CRUX OF ALL OF THIS, OR IS THERE SOMETHING ELSE GOING ON?

IT'S A COMBINATION OF A LOT OF THINGS.

SINCE THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SEASON, WE HAVE SEEN AN UPTICK IN HATE.

WE TRACK ANTI-SEMITISM AS A 106-YEAR-OLD ORGANIZATION THAT'S BEEN DOING THAT, WE HAVE AN ABILITY TO HAVE A SNAPSHOT OF WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH ANTI-SEMITISM.

WE FEEL WITH THE UPTICK WE HAVE SEEN, WE KNOW THAT OTHER MINORITY GROUPS ARE EXPERIENCING THE SAME KIND OF HATE AND THE SAME NUMBER OF INCIDENTS, THEY'RE NOT JUST BEING DOCUMENTED IN THE SAME WAY.

THAT'S ALL COMING FROM THIS NEW CLIMATE THAT WE'VE SEEN SINCE THE ELECTION SEASON.

A LOT OF IT IS A RESURGENCE OF WHITE SUPREMACIST GROUPS, BUT ALSO HOW MUCH HATE IS ONLINE.

THE LAST FIVE YEARS, WE'VE SEEN A GROWTH OF USE OF TWITTER AND FACEBOOK AND ALL THE OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA TYPE PLATFORMS AS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR WHITE SUPREMACIST GROUPS AND PEOPLE THAT HATE IN THAT WAY TO BE ABLE TO DO IT IN A WAY WHERE THEY CAN DO IT PROTECTED, UNDER COVER, AND ALSO COMMUNICATE VERY RAPIDLY WITH MILLIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE IN WAYS THEY COULDN'T 40, 50 YEARS AGO.

ADVENT OF THAT, IN KNOWING THAT, BASED ON OUR POLLING, THE AMERICAN POPULATION HAS 10% TO 14% ARE ANTI-SEMITIC, WHICH MEANS THEY'RE MOST LIKELY HATING OTHER MINORITY GROUPS, AS WELL.

WHEN YOU HAVE THAT MANY AMERICANS WITH THAT KIND OF ACCESS TO BE ABLE TO SPEW THEIR VENOM, AND ALSO TO COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS THAT FEEL THAT WAY, WHERE MAYBE AN ANTI-SEMITE IN NEW YORK COULDN'T COMMUNICATE WITH SOMEONE IN CALIFORNIA, NOW THEY CAN HAVE AN ACTIVE CONVERSATION IN REALTIME.

THIS ALSO SEEMS TO HAVE EXPOSED A FISSION WITHIN THE JEWISH COMMUNITY IN REGARDS TO NOT ONLY WHAT HAPPENED, BUT THE PROPER RESPONSE, MORE GUNS, IS IT MORE PRAYERS, BETTER SECURITY, SIT MORE TURNING OF THE CHEEK?

THERE SEEMS TO BE A LOT OF FISSION WITHIN THE COMMUNITY ITSELF.

YEAH, I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS FACTIONS WITHIN OUR JEWISH COMMUNITY.

IT'S A COMPLEX JEWISH COMMUNITY.

AS ARE MOST COMMUNITIES.

AND YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE VARYING OPINIONS.

FOR US, WE DON'T FEEL THAT NECESSARILY POSTING SOMEBODY OUTSIDE OF RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION OR SYNAGOGUE WITH A GUN IS GOING TO SOLVE THAT PROBLEM.

WE FEEL THAT RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS, WHETHER THEY'RE ORTHODOX, CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT, WHATEVER IT, IS NEEDS TO WORK WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT, WORK WITH SECURITY EXPERTS, AND FIGURE OUT WHAT THE BEST PLAN OF ACTION IS FOR THEM.

I DON'T THINK ANY ONE LEADER WITHIN THE JEWISH LEADER SHOULD SAY WHAT'S BETTER FOR ANOTHER PART OF THE COMMUNITY, BUT FOCUS ON WHAT'S BEST FOR THEM IN THEIR GIVEN COMMUNITY AND GIVEN SYNAGOGUE.

BUT ALLOW THOSE DECISIONS TO BE MAID BY THOSE INDIVIDUAL LEADERS.

BEFORE I LET YOU GO, I WANT TO ASK A COMPLICATED QUESTION THAT'S ARISING ONLINE, THE NOTION OF, WELL, I'M FRIENDS WITH SOMEONE WHO IS SO AND SO, SO THEREFORE, ANYTHING I SAY CAN'T BE CONSIDERED TO BE HATEFUL OR WHATEVER, BECAUSE THERE'S THIS ONE PERSON IN MY LIFE AND MAYBE THEY TELL ME IT'S OKAY.

FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, HOW DOES THAT PLAY OUT?

WELL, I'VE HAD TOO MANY CONVERSATIONS AROUND MY TRAVELS IN NEW YORK, WHERE I'LL GET OFF THE PODIUM FROM SPEAKING AND HAVE CONVERSATIONS LIKE THAT WITH MANY PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS, PEOPLE WILL SAY I HAVE A BLACK FRIEND OR A JEWISH FRIEND, BUT THE CONVERSATION GOES INTO THE DIATRIBE ABOUT THE OVERALL OF THAT COMMUNITY.

THERE'S A SEPARATION BETWEEN THAT OVERALL HATE.

THAT PERSON'S DIFFERENT.

THAT HISPANIC PERSON IS DIFFERENT.

THAT BLACK PERSON IS DIFFERENT.

THAT JEW IS DIFFERENT THAN THE COLLECTIVE.

SO I THINK IT'S POSSIBLE TO HAVE THOSE CONVERSATIONS WITH PEOPLE, MANY OF THEM, WHERE SOMEONE SAYS, I COULD HAVE THAT ONE RELATIONSHIP BUT THEN IN THE SAME SENTENCE TALK NEGATIVELY ABOUT THAT PERSON'S ENTIRE GROUP.

AND I THINK WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL, JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE SAYS I HAVE THAT ONE FRIEND DOESN'T MEAN THEY NECESSARILY HAVE GOOD THOUGHTS ABOUT THE ENTIRE MINORITY GROUP.

WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

BUT VERY QUICKLY, WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT NEW YORKERS AT LEAST TO CONSIDER TO THINK ABOUT TO CARRY WITH THEM AFTER THIS HORRIFIC EVENT?

I THINK IT'S A TIME WHERE WE NEED UNITY.

IT'S A TIME WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE OTHER.

WE WERE AT MANY RALLIES YESTERDAY OF DIFFERENT FAITHS, BACKGROUNDS, ALL COMING TOGETHER.

IT NOW NEEDS TO BE SOMETHING THAT BECOMES ENGRAINED IN OUR SOCIETY AND ALL THESE CITIES.

WE HAVE TO BE COLLECTIVELY STRONGER.

I THINK WE ALSO NEED TO BE ENSURING THERE'S ANTI-BIAS EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS.

HATE IS A LEARNED BEHAVIOR.

IF YOUNG PEOPLE ARE SEEING THIS, WE CAN'T ALLOW THEM TO THINK THIS IS NORMAL OR OKAY.

OKAY.

THAT'S A GREAT NOTE TO LEAVE IT ON.

EVAN, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US AGAIN.

AND THANK YOU FOR THE WORK THAT YOU DO.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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