As we are writing this, we are watching the news reports about the mass shooting that occurred in Highland Park, Illinois, during a Fourth of July parade on Monday morning.
We initially were disappointed with the news coverage of this horrific event because there was no mention by the reporters and commentators that Highland Park is well-known for its large Jewish community. We had many friends in college who were from Highland Park and who were members of the Jewish faith. Our daughter at a local university also has friends from Highland Park and they stated their belief in the immediate aftermath of the shooting that their community was targeted because of its large Jewish population. The Israeli Foreign Minister offered his nation’s condolences to the citizens of Highland Park.
The reason we mention this is because of the possibility that the motivating factor by the shooter was his desire to commit yet another hate crime similar to the targeting of a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y., a few weeks ago by a young man who adhered to white nationalist beliefs. Whether authorities will be able to find definitive “proof” of an anti-Semtiic motive in the Highland Park shooting may never be known.
However, we recall when the neo-Nazis went to court in the 1970s in order to march in nearby Skokie, Illinois, another commuity with a large Jewish population, including Holocaust survivors (which is why the neo-Nazi group deliberately targeted that town for their march).
Fast forward almost 50 years, and it was a bunch of neo-Nazis who gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, and who were chanting, “The Jews will not replace us.”
Anti-Semitism has existed for centuries and it still is prevalent today, but now is reaching record levels. The anti-Defamation League reports that anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. reached a record-high of 2,717 in 2021. That’s a 34 percent increase from the year before and averages out to more than seven anti-Semitic incidents per day in our country.
Even if one accepts the pro-gun lobby’s self-serving and silly mantra that, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” the reality is that the easy accessibility to military-grade weapons of mass death by those who seek to target our fellow Americans who are members of Black, Latino, Jewish, LGBTQIA+, and other minority communities provides the means by which they can perpetrate these horrific attacks.
Until our government leaders are willing to take a stand against limiting the sale of these weapons, a measure that the vast majority of Americans support, Monday’s tragedy in Highland Park, Illinois, will be repeated again…and again…and again.