Trump ‘not welcome in Pittsburgh’ until he denounces white nationalism, Jewish community leaders say

Zamira Rahim

Eleven Jewish community leaders have said that Donald Trump is not welcome in Pittsburgh until he decides to “fully denounce white nationalism”, following a shooting in a synagogue on Saturday.

The group are all affiliated with the Pittsburgh branch of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership, a liberal movement made up of “tens of thousands” of progressive Jewish members across the US, according to its website.

“For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement,” the leaders said in an open letter to Mr Trump.

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“You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence.”

Mourners pay tribute to the victims (Getty)
Mourners pay tribute to the victims (Getty)

Eleven people were killed after a gunman entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday morning and opened fire, after allegedly shouting antisemitic abuse.

The suspected shooter, Robert Bowers, 46, has been charged with killing eight men and three women inside the synagogue during worship services.

Six other people were injured. Armed officers raced to the scene and confronted the suspect, who was shot and injured and taken into custody.

Mourners outside the Tree of Life synagogue (EPA)
Mourners outside the Tree of Life synagogue (EPA)

“He killed Jews in order to undermine the efforts of all those who find shared humanity with immigrants and refugees,” the Bend the Arc members said, in reference to Bowers.

“President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you stop targeting and endangering all minorities.”

The community leaders stressed that they could not speak for all Jewish people in Pittsburgh but were publishing the letter knowing that they represented “a diverse and unified group”.

FBI investigators are treating the shooting as a “hate crime”, while the city’s mayor Bill Peduto said it had caused the “darkest day of Pittsburgh’s history”.

Mr Trump condemned the act of violence on Saturday and added that ”there must be no tolerance for antisemitism in America or for any form of religious or racial hatred or prejudice.”

But the president’s critics have said that said that his language, which is frequently aggressive and mocking of people who disagree with him, was helping to create an environment in which such violence was more likely.