By Sarah Myers
On Saturday, 11 people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue by a man who told law enforcement officers, “I just want to kill Jews.”
As a Jewish person in America, I don’t know how to react to this tragedy. On Saturday I cried. On Sunday I found out that this is the synagogue that my family members went to while they lived in Pittsburgh, and that the Rabbi of that synagogue married my aunt and uncle. Then I cried some more.
It is heartbreakingly easy to define the history of the Jews as a story of brutal, but just short of, complete genocides against us. We have multiple holidays dedicated to remembering times in which various groups attempted to destroy us, but did not completely succeed (Chanukah celebrates Jews reclaiming the Second Temple in Jerusalem after being forced to worship in secret; Purim celebrates a story in which a Jewish woman and her father outsmarted a government official attempting to murder all Jewish people in the Persian empire). I grew up learning about the Holocaust, pogroms and the Jewish Diaspora. You would think that this constant awareness of persecution and danger might make it easier to grapple with Saturday’s events. It doesn’t feel that way.
Instead I am heartbroken, angry and tired. Above all, I am terrified that this will inspire further attacks. I have no profound insights about the nature of human suffering or hatred. I have no insights at all. I don’t really know what else there is to say.
This weekend, it was comforting that many American politicians issued statements condemning the murder of Jewish people. It was comforting that Stanford held a vigil to mourn the victims of this attack.
It was infuriating that Trump retweeted Dinesh D’Souza, a known anti-Semite, less than three days after anti-Semitism killed 11 people. It was infuriating to read on Monday morning that the Stanford College Republicans (SCR) applied for a grant from Stanford to host D’Souza this January.
To quote The Stanford Daily story on D’Souza:
“D’Souza also joked about the Holocaust in a Stony Brook University talk earlier this year, falsely claimed that Adolf Hitler was not anti-gay and retweeted Twitter posts with the hashtags #burntheJews and #bringbackslavery.”
Sure, D’Souza claims that he accidentally retweeted #burntheJews. But I’m suspicious of anyone who “doesn’t notice” that particular hashtag. And the tweet with that hashtag came to D’Souza’s attention because it contained a trailer for his new movie. If fans of your movie are promoting it using that hashtag, something is very, very wrong.
I cannot let my tuition money and my school be used to promote anti-Semitism. I invite you to sign a petition asking the Stanford undergraduate student senate to deny SCR’s funding request. I invite you to sign a petition calling for Stanford Office of Community Standards to investigate the SCR. Inviting D’Souza is a slap in the face to Jewish people at Stanford, particularly after this weekend. The individuals responsible for this misguided plan must be held accountable.
D’Souza and bigots like him did not directly participate in the Pittsburgh shooting. But they promote and enable anti-Semitism throughout society, and that anti-Semitism causes attacks like this one. We cannot allow D’Souza to use Stanford to promote hatred and further endanger freedom of religion and American Jews.
Contact Sarah Myers at smyers3 ‘at’ stanford.edu.