Killing ourselves with hate

Killing ourselves with hate
© Getty Images

The recent shooting inside a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, N.J., is the latest example that we Americans are literally killing ourselves with hatred for our neighbors.

It is just the latest in an ever-lengthening litany of putrid examples showing the terrible consequences of hating the “other,” rather than loving in our hearts all of those created in God’s image. The facts surrounding the murder of innocents just across the river from New York City illustrate how pervasive this problem is today. 

The alleged perpetrators of this heinous crime — a man and a woman — apparently were motivated by their deep hatred of Jews. Information continues to emerge that speaks to the motivation behind this callous crime, including that they reportedly were linked to the Black Hebrew Israelites who hold anti-Semitic beliefs.

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The violence itself was bad enough, and critics who seek to downplay the pervasiveness of anti-Semitism in the United States could easily write this incident off as an isolated anomaly. But it was the television footage of the immediate aftermath of the crime that sent shivers down my spine. 

A succession of black neighbors railed against the community of ultra-orthodox Jews who moved to Jersey City in recent years to escape soaring real estate prices in nearby Williamsburg. In a clear and shocking example of blaming the victim, these people said that shootings such as this never happened until Jewish residents came to their city. “I blame the Jews,” said one bystander, who said her children were stuck at school on security lockdown “because of Jew shenanigans.”

It was not too long ago that predominantly black and Jewish communities were connected through friendship and solidarity, owing much to their shared involvement in the civil rights movement.  

But, as is often the case for closed-minded politicians looking to score cheap points, the Jersey City shooting quickly became a topic of misinformation and misplaced blame. Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibAyanna Pressley's 'squad' of congresswomen offers support after she opens up about alopecia With surge in anti-Semitism, political leaders need to be aggressive and reflective in response Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair endorses Sanders MORE (D-Mich.), erroneously tweeted that “white supremacy kills” before deleting the tweet — perhaps after realizing that the black shooters were not white supremacists.

Tlaib’s decision to weigh in on this tragedy with controversial comments should come as little surprise, given that she attacked Republican congressmen who voted to condemn the Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel as having “forgot what country they represent.” This, from a congresswoman who posed for photos with the leader of a pro-Palestinian group and has described the founding of Israel as a “crime” and equated Zionism with Nazism.

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Orthodox Jews in Jersey City certainly live an insular life, focused on strict Biblical tenets. Since arriving in their new neighborhood they have, out of desire and necessity, set up synagogues, religious schools for their children and supermarkets to stock kosher food. Were they perfect neighbors? Of course not, since no person is ever an ideal citizen 100 percent of the time. But the families from Hasidic sects based in Brooklyn say the mostly black residents of the neighborhood welcomed them when they settled in. 

There is nothing in the world that justifies shooting people to death. The supermarket slaughter showcases the worst of modern-day America, and it illustrates that anti-Semitism and xenophobia are alive and well.

The problem is not the role of religious minorities in a town, nor is it the racial makeup of the criminals who carry out such disgusting deeds. The source of the issue is the hatred that resides in the hearts of far too many Americans. Until we address this sad reality and make strides to correct it, we can expect to see more tragedies that cut short innocent lives and make this a more dangerous, divided society. 

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is the owner and manager of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. He is the author of “Reawakening Virtues.”