White nationalist terror strikes another synagogue
The growing plague of anti-Semitic violence claimed more victims last week when a 19-year-old entered a synagogue in Poway, Calif., and used a semi-automatic rifle to kill one woman and injure three other Jews on the last day of Passover. California State University nursing student John Earnest was charged with murdering Lori Gilbert Kaye, 60, and attempting to murder an 8-year-old girl, her uncle, and Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein at the Chabad of Poway near San Diego. Authorities said Earnest screamed that Jews were ruining the world and fired several rounds with an AR-15–style rifle before it jammed. Goldstein’s right index finger was shot off, but he wrapped the hand in a prayer shawl and addressed congregants, shouting, “Am Yisrael chai! The people of Israel live!”
The shooting came exactly six months after the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history, when a gunman yelled “All Jews must die!” before killing 11 at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. The Anti-Defamation League reported this week that there were 1,879 incidents of assault, harassment, and vandalism against Jews nationwide last year, the third-highest total in four decades. Earnest was also charged with trying to burn down the Islamic Center of Escondido, Calif., an unsolved arson case for which he allegedly claimed credit in a manifesto posted online hours before the Poway attack. The manifesto cited white nationalist attacks in Pittsburgh and Christchurch, New Zealand, as inspiration. “How our son was attracted to such darkness is a terrifying mystery to us,” Earnest’s family said in a statement.
What the columnists said
The “insane rants” of anti-Semitic gunmen have become familiar, said Will Bunch in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Yet President Trump refuses to acknowledge the spread of white nationalism, dismissing adherents as a “small group of people” with “very, very serious problems.” Far-right attacks “more than quadrupled” in a year on his watch—and still his administration slashed the budget of the office targeting domestic terrorism from $21 million to $3 million. There’s a reason Trump won’t confront right-wing terrorists, said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com: He knows their actions are “a more extreme version of Trump’s own political style.”
Of course, to the Left “everything must be about Donald Trump,” said Rich Lowry in NationalReview.com. Liberals blame him for Pittsburgh and Poway, ignoring that those shooters “explicitly rejected” Trump’s politics “precisely because he’s so pro-Israel.” The Passover story reminds us that anti-Semitism is as old as Judaism, and indeed right-wing anti-Semitism “marinates” on internet forums. But “a different sort of anti-Semitism, rooted in hatred of Israel, is getting normalized on the Left.”
Why doesn’t Congress respond to the surge of anti-Semitic violence? asked Max Boot in WashingtonPost.com. “The stock answer” is that legislators can’t take action without infringing on the rights of extremists. That didn’t stop the U.S. from cracking down on Islamist terror after Sept. 11. One suspects a more sinister reason for inaction: “There are people in positions of power and influence in this country who sympathize with white nationalists.”