On Sunday, on the one-year anniversary of the deadly antisemitic attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) will join Jewish communities around the world in remembering the 11 worshippers who were senselessly killed and honouring the first responders from that day.
Statement from Avi Benlolo, FSWC President and CEO:
“Since that horrific attack, we have witnessed similar attacks on houses of worship around the world, including in California, New Zealand and most recently Germany where innocent people were targeted simply because of their religious beliefs. We must all stand united and speak out against the antisemitism, hatred and intolerance that continues to exist, including here in Canada where synagogues have been attacked with antisemitic graffiti and threats.
“In my interview today with Caryn Lieberman about the one-year anniversary of the Tree of Life Synagogue attack, I expressed that antisemitism at its most basic functionality is a reflection of the health and wellness of a society. Often, it manifests as a symptom of a greater social problem which emerges visually perhaps as graffiti at a local park or a swastika drawn on a synagogue. What draws young people to a hateful ideology, as was the case at a private school in Vancouver where a number of students were suspended for antisemitic and anti-black activity on social media? In western societies, one can surmise that racism manifests due to a failure in our social fabric – in our institutions themselves.
“Education, vigilance among community members and the work of law enforcement and political leaders in enforcing security measures and hate crime laws are all necessary steps to ensure communities remain safe for everyone, especially minority groups. By increasing Holocaust education and programs that teach human rights, diversity and tolerance in schools – which is what we at FSWC do every day through programs like the Tour for Humanity and in-school workshops – young people will gain a better understanding of the effects of hate and the importance of standing up against it.”