NEW YORK - In the aftermath of the deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder is sounding the alarm on the very real threats facing Jewish communities worldwide and urging government authorities to ramp up security efforts to prevent such an attack from happening again.
“The horrific act of terror that took place on Saturday at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh has left all Jewish communities, both in the US and abroad, in a state of absolute shock. We have long warned about the sharp rise in antisemitism, on both the far-right and the far-left and have prayed that the many incidences that we have witnessed of late, of vandalism and desecration of property, would never end in loss of life.
“This Shabbat, our worst nightmares came true. Innocent people were killed and wounded for the simple crime of being Jewish. This was an attack specifically targeting the Jewish community, in a deliberate and callous manifestation of antisemitism and hatred, and it should serve as a wake-up call to all Americans that such horror can and has happened here. We must be vigilant in making sure that this never happens again.
“The Pittsburgh police department were quick to respond to this heinous attack, and for that we are grateful. It is imperative that the authorities across the US, and in every country that has a Jewish community, take every threat seriously, no matter how innocuous it might seem. It is the responsibility of governments and all official authorities to ensure that the Jewish communities, and their institutions, are secure and protected.
“The World Jewish Congress’ Security of Communities Department is actively working with national and local authorities in more than 50 countries to help to provide some of our communities with the proper infrastructure and crisis management tools to defend themselves against any threat. We will continue to do so with vigor, and we stand ready to assist in every way possible.
“Each and every one of us, from average citizen to government official, has the moral obligation to stand up and strongly condemn every form of antisemitism or xenophobia as it rears its head. We cannot allow ourselves to become desensitized to the very real dangers that can unfold. Vandalism, hate speech, and other demonstrations of the kind must not be ignored or downplayed. We must be united in unequivocal denunciation and clear in our message that we will not let terror win.”
UN Sec. Gen. condemns attack, conveys solidarity with World Jewish Congress
On Saturday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres conveyed in a personal message to WJC President Lauder his solidarity with the World Jewish Congress following the deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
The UN Secretariat released the following statement following the attack:
"The Secretary-General is deeply shocked at and strongly condemns the shooting today at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh in the United States. He expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.
"The shooting in Pittsburgh is a painful reminder of continuing antisemitism. Jews across the world continue to be attacked for no other reason than their identity. Antisemitism is a menace to democratic values and peace, and should have no place in the 21st century.
"The Secretary-General calls for a united front -- bringing together authorities at all levels, civil society, religious and community leaders and the public at large -- to roll back the forces of racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hatred, bigotry, discrimination and xenophobia gaining strength in many parts of the world."