October 28, 2018

Van Hollen Statement on Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has released the following statement regarding the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“I am heartbroken and horrified by the brutal mass murders in Pittsburgh.  This reprehensible anti-Semitic hate crime against people participating in Shabbat observance is painful beyond words.

“We are grateful for the selfless heroism of the first responders who rushed into harm’s way to save lives.  And we pray for those who lost their lives, for those who were wounded, and for the loved ones of the victims.  Their lives have been changed forever by this senseless act of hateful violence.   

“We must respond to this horrible act of violence with resolve.  We cannot accept these horrific acts as inevitable.  Although we keep saying ‘not one more’ and hoping that ‘it can’t happen here,’ it does and it can.  Thoughts and prayers are not enough.  We must take long-overdue action to stop these tragedies -- Congress must finally act on commonsense, bipartisan gun violence prevention legislation.

“We must also address the toxic political discourse that is drumming up the kind of hate we saw this weekend in Pittsburgh.  This hate is stoked by the nativism endorsed by some of our country’ leaders who seek to divide, rather than unite, us.   It seems unfathomable that hate can be so strong that even HIAS, which has been saving and transforming lives for over 130 years, could become the target of a shooter’s vitriol simply because of that great organization’s compassion for people fleeing danger in their homeland.  We must end the political discourse that treats immigrants and people of different faiths as ‘other.’  This is unacceptable, un-American, and at odds with the values we all hold dear.   

“We as a community must make clear to our leaders that the only intolerance that is acceptable is our intolerance for hatred and anti-Semitism.”