Appearing Monday on CNN’s New Day, Tree of Life Synagogue Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said it feels like “open hunting season” on Jewish-Americans following a string of antisemitic attacks in New York.
In October 2018, a gunman shot dead 11 people and wounded six at Myers’s Pittsburgh synagogue, making it the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the U.S.
A partial transcript is as follows:
JOHN BERMAN: I have to imagine when you heard the news coming out of Monsey, New York, Saturday night — on the seventh night of Hanukkah — you were heartbroken like the rest of us. How did you react?
RABBI JEFFREY MYERS: Yes, John. Goodmorning. Nice to see you again. For me it was an “oh no, not again” sort of moment combined with the flurry of antisemitic violence that you’ve heard have been taking place in New York over the past three weeks. It made me sort of wonder, I don’t recall them selling licenses to have open hunting season on Jews, but it sure can make Jews feel that way.
BERMAN: Do you feel that way now? That’s quite a statement.
RABBI MYERS: It sure makes you pause and wonder what’s going on in our society that people feel they have a god-given right to attack any human being for whatever reason they choose to. It makes you pause and wonder, what’s going on?
BERMAN: What do you think is going on? We’ve seen the numbers, you can see the statistics in the rise of antisemitic incidents is up 99 percent since 2015 to 2018. I don’t have to tell you rabbi about the specific antisemitic attacks or attacks on Jews in America overall in the last few years. Why do you think it’s happening?
RABBI MYERS: I wish I could just sit here and say “I have answers.” We certainly know — and you’ve heard me say it before — when I talked about the “H-word,” about hate speech, that there’s too much of that. [There’s] too much anger in people and that type of speech will always lead to violence. We see it from all of our elected leaders, we see too much of it on social media and the internet. Social media is swamped, a breeding ground of all of this violence. I don’t see that there’s a root cause, but I do see this illness in the United States, where a person will attack another person and feel that there’s one set of rules for them and another set of rules for someone else. It sure makes someone pause and wonder about what’s going on in the United States.