By Ben Sales
(JTA) — The head of the Anti-Defamation League said Saturday’s synagogue shooting should serve as a “wake-up call” for politicians and business executives to more seriously address anti-Semitism.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO and national director of the ADL, spoke with reporters on a call from Poway, California, where a gunman entered the Chabad of Poway synagogue Saturday and killed one person, injuring three. Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, was killed while shielding the rabbi from bullets. The rabbi, an eight-year-old girl and another adult were wounded.
The shooting took place exactly six months after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, apparently by design, Greenblatt said. He told reporters on a conference call Sunday that President Donald Trump, other politicians and tech executives need to be more proactive in fighting anti-Semitism on social media and in public discourse.
“They need to stand united against hate and address it not only after it happens but by enforcing norms before there is a crisis and by elevating our shared values long before we have to deal with a tragedy,” he said. “And we desperately need our leaders to stop politicizing the issue. Those who dismiss anti-Semitism when it comes from their side of the aisle are only minimizing the issue and perpetuating the problem.”
Greenblatt noted, however, that according to ADL statistics, the vast majority of extremist murders in the United States are committed by right-wing extremists like the Poway gunman, who appeared to have written a white supremacist manifesto. The ADL found that in 2018, 49 out of 50 extremist murders were committed by extreme rightists (including the Pittsburgh massacre of 11 victims), as well as 73 percent of all extremist murders over the past decade.
“Anti-Semitism is not some abstraction,” he said. “Anti-Semitism is not some idea. Anti-Semitism is a clear and present danger right now in this country. This needs to serve a a wake-up call in this country to deal with this kind of hate… We need the president and the White House to direct [the Department of Homeland Security] to take deliberate action to devote resources to analyzing domestic terror threats. These homegrown threats are equal if not more dangerous than Islamist” threats.
Oren Segal, the director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said the Poway gunman, a 19-year-old college student, participated in an online white supremacist ecosystem where social media activity fuels real-world violence, and vice-versa.
“It’s this vicious cycle,” he said on the conference call. “This propaganda serves as a round-the-clock white supremacist rally by amplifying and fulfilling these white supremacist fantasies.”