'Silence is Not an Option'
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) issued the following statement in light of the recent deadly shooting at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Congregation, and as part of AJC's #ShowUpForShabbat. (He attended Shabbat today with congregants of the Freehold Jewish Center in Monmouth County):
Words are inadequate to convey my—our—outrage and profound sorrow over the loss of 11 precious lives and the wounding of six others, including four courageous police officers, at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh.
On Thursday, the suspect Robert Bowers entered a plea of not guilty to 44 counts. Even when held to account for this atrocity in a court of law however the numbing loss of life and the anguish will never abate.
Attacked simply because they were Jewish, this barbaric manifestation of anti-Semitism underscores a dangerous and escalating trend both here in the United States and throughout the world.
Americans must unite as never before against anti-Semitism in all of its ugly forms.
AJC’s #ShowUpforShabaat is a global initiative for people of all faiths to “show solidarity with Pittsburgh’s Jewish community while sending a resounding message that love triumphs over hate.”
Americans must leave no stone unturned in calling out and condemning the purveyors of anti-Semitism on the internet including social media.
Working with local police and homeland security at both the state and federal level, we must employ all best practices and the means to achieve maximum security regardless of cost, to protect Jewish persons, synagogues, places of learning and cemeteries.
At one of the many congressional hearings I’ve chaired on combating anti-Semitism, Dr. Shimon Samuels of the Wiesenthal Center in Paris testified in 2002 and said: “The Holocaust for 30 years after the war acted as a protective Teflon against blatant anti-Semitic expression…That Teflon has eroded…and may end as Molotov cocktails against synagogues.”
Abraham Lincoln once said that to sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
In the face of escalating anti-Semitism, silence is not an option.