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Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter in Custody, Identified as Far-Right White Supremacist
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49410"><span class="small">Amir Tibon, Noa Landau, Judy Maltz and Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz</span></a>   
Saturday, 27 October 2018 13:54

Excerpt: "Eight people were killed after a man opened fire on a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday. The perpetrator entered the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue and yelled 'All Jews must die,' according to KDKA, a local radio station."

First responders surround the Tree of Life Synagogue where a shooter opened fire Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (photo: Gene J. Puskar/AP)
First responders surround the Tree of Life Synagogue where a shooter opened fire Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (photo: Gene J. Puskar/AP)

ALSO SEE: Trump Blames Synagogue in Pittsburgh Shooting for Not Having Armed Guard

Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter in Custody, Identified as Far-Right White Supremacist

By Amir Tibon, Noa Landau, Judy Maltz and Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz

27 October 18


ight people were killed after a man opened fire on a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday.

The perpetrator entered the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue and yelled 'All Jews must die,' according to KDKA, a local radio station.

An Israeli official confirmed it knows of eight casualties.

The shooter opened fire on police officers when they arrived at the scene, the report said. Three officers were shot.

The assailant has surrendered to law enforcement authorities, and is said to be wounded. Local news outlets in Pittsburgh are reporting that the shooter is Robert Bowers, a white male in his 40s who expressed far-right and white supremacist views on his social media accounts. Eyewitness reports said he was heavily armed. 

Bowers' post before the shooting took place was an attack on HIAS, a Jewish-American organization that helps refugees in the U.S. and around the world.

Bowers wrote: “HIAS likes to bring invaders that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I’m going in.”

Speaking about the shooting, Trump told reporters who accompanied him on the way to a political event that the attack could have been avoided if the synagogue had armed guards present.

“If they had protection, the result would have been far better," Trump said after being asked by a reporter if he thinks the synagogue should have had an armed guard.

First Lady Melania Trump also tweeted in response to the incident. "My heart breaks over the news out of Pittsburgh. The violence needs to stop." 

Israel stands with Pittsburgh in face of 'anti-Semitic brutality'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayahau also commented on the shooting. In a video statement issued on Saturday evening, the premier can be heard saying: "I was heartbroken and appalled by the murderous attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue today. The entire people of Israel grieve with the families of the dead."

Netanyahu said Israel "stands together with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. We stand together with the American people in the face of this horrendous anti-Semitic brutality, and we all pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded."

Michael Eisenberg, the immediate past president of the synagogue, said in an interview with KDKA that "like most religious institutions, we have an open door ... On a day like today, the door is open, it's a religious service, you can walk in freely, only on the High Holidays is there a security person at the door."

Eisenberg said he had been heading to the synagogue when the shooting began, and the police on the scene told him to leave. 

Eisenberg said that the synagogue leaders had undergone training and preparation for active shooter situations, though he said that the synagogue had never received any threats of violence.

He said he had spoken to the synagogue's maintenance man, who was in the bathroom during the shooting, and had escaped through exit doors, which had been purposely made easier to exit in order to prepare for such a situation. The doors were adjusted on the advice of Homeland Security experts who had briefed synagogue leaders on ways to prepare for security threats. That advice, and the adjustments to the doors, he said, may have saved lives by allowing congregants to escape.

"Moving forward, we need to learn from this. You want to be pro-active ... this will be a catalyst for more security in the future in many religious institutions," Eisenberg said, adding emotionally, "I know everyone in the building. I almost don't want to know, but I am going to have to know" what occurred inside.

In Israel, President Reuven Rivlin also extended his condolences to members of the Jewish community, saying: "Our prayers and deepest concerns are focused on what is happening in Pittsburgh, Pennsilvaniya. Our hearts and thoughts are with the families of those who were slain and we are praying for the speedy recovery of the injured. I am certain that security forces and U.S. law enforcement will investigate the appalling incident thoroughly and bring the murderer to justice."

Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog echoed such sentiments in his own statement: "Horrible shooting during Shabbat Service at Congregation Etz Chaim in Pittsburgh. We at the Jewish Agency are in pain and mourning with the Pittsburgh Jewish community, and will assist in any possible way. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families."

Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett departed for Pittsburgh hours after the attack took place. He is slated to visit the scene of the attack, meet the local community and participate in the funerals of those killed.

"The State of Israel and the Israeli Government are shocked and pained to receive the reports of the terrible attack on the Jewish community in Pittsburgh," Bennett said in a statement before departing.

“We are following the news with concern, and I have instructed the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs to prepare to assist the community in every possible way. Our hearts go out to the families of those killed and injured. May the memory of the murdered be blessed," his statement read

Yizhar Hess, executive director of the Conservative movement in Israel, spoke about the loss the community suffered, “It is a tough evening, and to all those who accuse us of not being Jews or not being Jewish enough, here is yet another proof, written in blood," Hess said.

The Consulate General of Israel in New York, which is also responsible for Pennsylvania, wrote that it "stands in solidarity and heavy mourning with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh for the terrible murder of Jewish worshipers this morning."

Consul General of Israel in New York, Dani Dayan, also released a statement. "Today, murderous anti-Semitism has reached our borders, and the State of Israel stands with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, shoulder to shoulder."

American-Palestinian Women's March leader Linda Sarsour wrote on Facebook: "This is absolutely devastating and so scary. Sending love to our Jewish family. We promise to stand in solidarity with you. We are in this together. We have to be."

Pittsburgh's Tree of Life congregation, affiliated with the Conservative movement, is a historic one, dating back to 1864.

Originally, it was located a building downtown that now serves as Pittsburgh’s Performing Arts Center in the Oakland neighborhood.

The synagogue building in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the shooting took place was built on donated land in 1946, after much of the Jewish community had moved into the neighberhood. The cornerstone of the building was made with limestone from Palestine.

In 2010, the congregation merged with another Conservative congregation, Or L’Simcha. The name of the merged community is Tree of Life-Or L’Simcha. In addition to the main congregation, a Reconstructionist congregation, Dor Hadash, also holds religious services there.

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+17 # Ralph 2018-10-27 15:01
Trying to co-exist with fascists and nazis is stupidity at its finest. It's time to round up Trump and his supporters and put them in prison. Anyone who votes for a Republican should be put on a watch list. The nation is at the brink of total failure. We either rise up and defend ourselves or we will perish. Enough is enough.
+21 # laborequalswealth 2018-10-27 15:28
Almost every commenter on the Fox News articles is blaming... "liberals". Nary a word of condolence to the victims.

Jesus what a sick sick country this is.
0 # Caliban 2018-10-29 01:37
Fox news does not represent the whole country -- sick or not sick.
+21 # wilhelmscream 2018-10-27 15:54
No House of Worship should have armed guards! Everyone should be able to worship w/o fear of gun violence! (This statement is in response to the See Also link)
+1 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-10-28 09:51
Absolutely. A nation that has to arm & police its temples is doomed.
+1 # AlexG 2018-10-28 02:23
The criminal offense of " intentional incitement to cause mayhem or harm " is usually difficult to legally prove, except in the obvious example of someone falsely yelling "Fire..!!"in a crowded theater.

But Trump's inflammatory public rhetoric is getting closer & closer to meeting the legal criteria for lawsuits based on just such incitement with harmful intent, the latest example being his recent speech in Missoula, MT where he praised a congressman who had earlier assaulted and battered a reporter.

If the hate-filled White Nationalists now gathering at the US/Mexico border with Trump's implicit approval [to stop Guatemalan marchers from entering the US], engage in violence against the marchers, Trump may well be locally charged, by several lawyers & forensic psychiatrists, with "incitement" --there being plenty of valid contextual evidence to support the charge against him.
While he would richly deserve the resulting political problems such a lawsuit caused him, it's unlikely he could be criminally convicted by any local jury -- tho the uproar might re-stimulate the flagging impeachment efforts.
Proviso: I am hoping that no such violence occurs.
+2 # opinionaire 2018-10-28 06:50
Probably a "fine person" as declared by the Cheeto in Chief.
+2 # relegn 2018-10-28 07:59
As long as our Supreme Leader remains in the White House the violence will continue and turning the US into a police state only strengthens the hand of the Wealthy.
+3 # Texas Aggie 2018-10-28 08:16
" this will be a catalyst for more security in the future in many religious institutions,"

Armed guards are worthless because the attacker always gets to shoot first. The only effective response is to see that people like this evil POS don't have access to weapons, especially weapons with the capacity of assault rifles. IOW, take away his guns and take away all assault weapons.

He gave more than ample notice of what he is by his antisemitic ravings on social media.

"When someone tells you who he is, believe him the first time."

That he was allowed to own a firearm is plain stupid and the people who should have authorized the removal of them are culpable in these murders. That there is no legal way the law enforcement authorities can act on social media posts is the fault of our lily livered politicians.
0 # Caliban 2018-10-29 01:40
Well said and absolutely true.

Out of the way, NRA.