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Jewish Leaders Tell Trump He’s Not Welcome in Pittsburgh Until He Denounces White Supremacy

There are no "very fine people" on that side.

Jewish leaders denounce Trump in Pittsburgh

Following this weekend’s horrific mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue, Donald Trump has once again been given an opportunity to denounce white nationalism. And once again, he refused to do so. Now, a number of Pittsburgh’s Jewish leaders have signed an open letter, telling Trump he’s not welcome in the city until he does so.

“For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement,” the letter reads. “You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence.”

Trump did, in fact, condemn the “evil Anti-Semitic attack,” in a tweet that, according to reports, Ivanka and Jared Kushner had to persuade him to write.

They also reportedly had to persuade him to say he’ll travel to Pittsburgh to visit with survivors of the shooting. Jeff Meyers, the current rabbi at the Tree of Life synagogue, said that Trump is welcome to visit. “The President of the United States is always welcome,” he said in an interview. “I’m a citizen, he’s my president, he is certainly welcome.”

The synagogue’s former president, Lynette Lederman, disagrees. She doesn’t want Trump’s empty words or photo-op visit. She told CNN, “I do not welcome this president to my city. He is the purveyor of hate speech. The hypocritical words that come from him tell me nothing.”

That sentiment was echoed by the 11 local Jewish leaders who signed the letter to Trump. It reads, “President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism.”

“Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted,” the letter continues. “You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country. President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you stop targeting and endangering all minorities.” It also states, “President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you cease your assault on immigrants and refugees.”

In the wake of both the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue and the bombs sent to Democrats and CNN, Trump has refused to acknowledge any possible ramifications for the hateful and violent language he’s constantly spouting on Twitter and at rallies, and the effect it’s clearly having in fueling the flames of violent hatred in this country. In one interview, when asked if he thought he needed to tone down his rhetoric, he said he could “tone it up.” In another, he said, well, this incoherent nonsense:

In that clip, he references Republican congressman Steve Scalise, who was shot last year by a left-wing activist, as proof that both sides of the political aisle can produce violence. But the difference, and what this letter is calling out, is that Trump sees a disconnect between his words–his encouragement of violence, his vilification of the media, his racist rhetoric, and his refusal to fully condemn his white nationalist supporters–and the increase in brazenly public bigotry and violence that we’ve been seeing lately.

He refuses to acknowledge that–to paraphrase Florida’s Andrew Gillum–even if he doesn’t think (or want to admit) that he himself is a racist or antisemite or white nationalist, the white nationalists sure do believe he is. And they are using his position of power as justification and motivation for violence.

Instead, he continues to blame everyone else. He even blamed the synagogue itself for not having an armed guard present. And, of course, he continued to blame the media.

Kellyanne Conway managed to blame the recent violence on … late night comedians?

The letter to Trump ends by stating, “While we cannot speak for all Pittsburghers, or even all Jewish Pittsburghers, we know we speak for a diverse and unified group when we say: President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us.”

(image: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.