In his posts on a fringe social media site favored by white supremacists, the alleged shooter at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh had fixated on HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. HIAS is an official voluntary agency for the State Department, helping resettle refugees across the country. HIAS used to focus on Jewish refugees but began working with non-Jewish immigrants about twenty years ago (giving context to the quote from HIAS’ president highlighted in today’s lead).
The alleged shooter subscribed to conspiracy theories claiming that Jews were responsible for the civil rights revolution of the mid-1900s and that Jewish agencies like HIAS are now responsible for bringing Muslim terrorists into the United States. Of course, both of these claims are based in hatred and bias, not reality.
In the article from Forward, Kane writes: “[The alleged shooter] and his white supremacist brethren are, of course, wrong that Jews control global events. But they are right about one thing: Most American Jews stand in support of American Muslims, opposed the Trump administration’s cruel Muslim travel ban, and welcome in refugees from Muslim-majority countries.”
Kane also says, “[These] rantings should serve as a stark reminder that even some American Jews have forgot: The safety of we Jews in America is bound up in the safety of Muslims in America.”
This reminder is applicable for not only Jews in America, but also all people, regardless of faith or nationality. This reminder leads me to think about the South African wisdom of Ubuntu, popularized by Desmond Tutu, which says that “a person is only a person in the context of other persons: my humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.”
There are many passages in Scripture, in both testaments, which speak to this Ubuntu and to how God calls us to treat one another. Refugees, immigrants, foreigners, and the impoverished merit special attention and care, not vitriol, hatred, and violence.