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Progressive Jewish Group Tells Trump ‘You Are Not Welcome In Pittsburgh’

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter

A progressive Jewish group said President Donald Trump is not welcome in Pittsburgh after Saturday’s synagogue shooting unless he denounces white nationalism.

The leaders of Bend the Arc, a Jewish advocacy organization that that established a political action committee with the help of Democratic donor George Soros’ son Alex, issued a statement accusing Trump of emboldening white nationalists through his rhetoric and his administration’s policies. The group accused Trump of inciting the Saturday shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in which a gunman murdered 11 people. (RELATED: Prosecutors Want Death Penalty For Accused Synagogue Shooter)

“For the past three years, your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement. You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence,” the group wrote in an open letter.

Mourners react during a memorial service at the Sailors and Soldiers Memorial Hall of the University of Pittsburgh, a day after 11 worshippers were shot dead at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

Mourners react during a memorial service at the Sailors and Soldiers Memorial Hall of the University of Pittsburgh, a day after 11 worshippers were shot dead at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

The suspected shooter, identified as Robert Bowers,  reportedly yelled “All Jews must die!” during the shooting. Bowers had a history of posting antisemitic rhetoric on social media and asserted that Trump was in fact controlled by the Jews and accused him of being a globalist.

“President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism.”

The website for the group, for which Alex Soros serves as the chair of its board of directors, advertises that they seek to support “everyone threatened by the Trump agenda,” indicating that they were predisposed to be antagonistic toward Trump before the shooting.

Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, in contrast, said that the shooting was not political but was the result of unbridled hate. Myers declined to blame any one person other than the gunman for the shooting, and instead referenced the story of Noah in which God says that all humans are inclined toward evil. He explained that, in his view, while all people have the capacity for evil, they also have the capacity for good.

“I don’t really foist blame upon any person,” Myers told CNN on Monday. “Hate does not know religion, race, creed, political party. It’s not a political issue in any way, shape, or form. Hate does not know any of those things.”

Rabbi Jeffrey Meyers of the Tree of Life synagogue speaks at a memorial service at the Sailors and Soldiers Memorial Hall of the University of Pittsburgh, a day after 11 worshippers were shot dead in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

Rabbi Jeffrey Meyers of the Tree of Life synagogue speaks at a memorial service at the Sailors and Soldiers Memorial Hall of the University of Pittsburgh, a day after 11 worshippers were shot dead in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 28, 2018. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

Trump announced plans to visit Pittsburgh in an effort to help the community heal from the tragedy, despite Bend the Arc’s demand that he stay away.

The leaders of the Bend the Arc nevertheless accused Trump of targeting and endangering the Jewish people and other minority groups.

“Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted.  You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country,” the letter added.

The letter reiterated the group’s message that Trump was not welcome in the city. Myers expressed a different message concerning Trump.

“The President of the United States is always welcome. I am a citizen, he is my president,” Myers said. “He is always welcome.”

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