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October 29, 2018 11:12 am

Israeli Minister at Pittsburgh Vigil: Antisemitism ‘Not a Distant Memory,’ but a ‘Clear and Present Danger’

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Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett addresses a memorial vigil for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, Oct. 28, 2018. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld.

Antisemitism is a “clear and present danger,” a top Israeli government minister said on Sunday, at a memorial vigil for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett flew to Pittsburgh in the wake of Saturday’s shooting, in which 11 Jews were murdered by a white supremacist. On Sunday, he met with local officials and visited the Tree of Life synagogue, where the attack took place.

At the vigil, held at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, Bennett told a crowd of more than 4,000 people, “Today, we stand in the shadow of death. In the shadow of evil. In the shadow of a cowardly, terror attack on Jews who were in synagogue to pray. The deadliest antisemitic attack in the history of the United States.”

He continued, “But today, I met the people, and the leaders of the community here in Pittsburgh, and I didn’t see death. I saw life, strength. I saw a warm community, of love and unity. I saw the Tree of Life, which will never be uprooted by hatred.”

“We stand together, as Jews from all communities united, as well as members of all faiths,” Bennett declared. “Together we stand. Americans, Israelis. People who are together saying, ‘No to hatred.’ The murderer’s bullet does not stop to ask: are you Conservative or Reform, are you Orthodox? Are you right wing or left wing? It has one goal, and that is to kill innocent people. Innocent Jews.”

“Nearly eighty years since Kristallnacht, when the Jews of Europe perished in the flames of their houses of worship, one thing is clear,” he went on to say. “Antisemitism, Jew hating, is not a distant memory. Antisemitism is a clear and present danger. From Sderot to Pittsburgh, the hand that fires missiles is the same hand that shoots worshipers. We will fight against the hatred of Jews, and antisemitism wherever it raises its head. And we will prevail.”

“Freedom will overcome. Unity will defeat division. Love will defeat hatred. Light will defeat darkness. Am Yisrael Chai,” Bennett concluded.

Watch a video of Bennett’s remarks below:

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