Archive for  October 30th 2018

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Hundreds of people of all faiths and walks of life overflowed Tifereth Israel Synagogue on Monday to remember the 11 who lost their lives in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Penn.

“Even as I kept leading junior congregation last Saturday morning, after the news about the Tree of Life Congregation began to break, I have been afraid. I’ve been afraid of the hate that I’ve heard about Jews and about Israel.” a rabbi said during the vigil.

Connie Ryan with Interfaith alliance said the vigil is also a symbol of hope.

“If we all know how to die together, we have to figure out a way to live together. The murderer screamed out, ‘All jews must die.’ And I scream out with every voice here and all the millions and millions of voices throughout the world, ‘The nation of Israel will live on,” another rabbi stated.

Those in attendance say it is important to remember to listen to each other, so that we all might understand each other better.

“We come together. There is still hope. There is still belief that this country is fully capable of being what it was established to be: a place where we can all worship and think and believe,” Episcopalian Thomas Phillips said.

He said just as we all embrace the first amendment of free speech, it’s important to also be silent and listen.

“We have to listen to each other,” Phillips said.

The vigil was filled with lots of song and prayer.

At the end, all the faith leaders whether they were speakers or in the crowd came up to the front of the temple to sing, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

 

AMES, Iowa — It used to be a simpler  more civil time.  “Iowa used to be the pillar of community standards when we had face to face interaction with our neighbors.”

As society has become enthralled in social media, Michael Bugeja, professor at the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University says civility and hate are getting worse.  “As we gravitate more online we have to understand it gives us the convenience of sharing our views with little consequence,” he said.

Robert Bowers, the alleged shooter in the deadly Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, relayed his hate speech against Jews on a social media networking site called Gab just moments before the attack. Bugeja said, “Sometimes many people get overlooked and where they get accepted is on those fringes.”  Bugeja who has authored Interpersonal Divide in the Age of the Machine believes Bowers and others who support his views are a population on the fringe of society that have found acceptance through these beliefs on public forums like social media.  “Many on the fringe suffer from severe anger.  When they hear uncivil speech and media or what sounds like incitement to do an act, those people on the fringe will believe their time has come. That they’ve been right all along,” he said.

Those fringe views have ramped up in Iowa.  The Anti-Defamation League fights antisemitism and according to a recent audit Iowa saw nine antisemitic incidents in 2017 that ranged from harassment to vandalism.  That is an increase from zero in 2016 and just one incident in 2015.  “How have we worked with our community to better our community and live up to the Iowa values that are so strong here?  If we forget what those are and we start pointing at the fringes we are going to exacerbate this problem,” he said.

Gab has since been shutdown and removed from app stores.  The ADL says 2017 was the first year in almost a decade where every state in the country reported at least one act of antisemitism.