On the last day of Passover a lone gunman opened fire on the congregation at Chabad of Poway’s Synagogue in San Diego, USA.
The attack left three wounded, and one dead. Lori Kaye was murdered after she took a bullet for the Rabbi.
San Diego is the latest in a series of crimes committed in the name of ‘white supremacy’. It occurred just six weeks after the mass shooting at a Mosque in New Zealand and seven months after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. And yet, there is still little talk of what white supremacy is; how it operates; and what it means for our communities.
Furthermore, white supremacy has gone transnational.
The San Diego mosque shooter, like many other white supremacy terrorists, was radicalised through online networks.
And yet, the media and politicians have been reticent to identify white supremacy as a threat. Whilst Muslims are openly viewed as a target group of radicalisation, white people are not. The gunmen are viewed as lone rangers and bad apples. But, this is problematic. We should be taking white supremacists seriously. We should be targeting them with the same level of scrutiny that has been used to deal with Islamic radicalisation. To not treat them seriously puts our communities at risk. This would mean identifying the links between what has been painted as fairly disparate attacks since 2011 – including Charlottesville, Charleston and the Murder of British MP Jo Cox, (the Guardian has created a time-line of these events).
There is a clear pattern, white supremacists see the Other (Jews, Muslims, black people) as an existential threat to the white race. Yet, little solidarity is promoted in the mainstream between these communities. In a time where identifying as Jewish can be so negatively scrutinised because of Israel’s politics, the Left (and by extension anti-racist solidarity networks) do have a hard time seeing anti-semitism.
It is not just disappointing that there is little understanding of anti-semitism, but as we can now see this is also dangerous. To keep our communities safe we need to take the threat that white supremacist fanatics pose seriously. And we need to create stronger networks of solidarity by resisting mainstream media that does a good job of polarising the communities affected by racism.