President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are set to visit the Pittsburgh Jewish community on Tuesday after a shooter opened fire on a local synagogue service Saturday morning. The attack killed 11 Jewish Americans and seriously injured others. The president plans to spend his time with victims in the hospital and with members of law enforcement during his visit.
The visit by the president is not without controversy. Some members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community are denouncing the president’s visit and a letter was released asking the president not to come. A former president of Tree of Life synagogue appeared on CNN Monday morning saying the Trump was not welcome, calling him “the purveyor of hate speech”
However, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who led the Saturday morning service, has been very open to the president’s visit. Rabbi Myers told CNN Monday, “I’m a citizen, he is my president. He is certainly welcome.”
“It is not a day to show anger, it is not a day to show bitterness…” the Rabbi said on Anderson Cooper 360, as he stood alongside the Pittsburgh Mayor.
This was starkly juxtaposed by the Mayor’s follow-up comments asking the president to delay his visit to Pittsburgh:
“I do believe that it would be best to put the attention on the families this week and if he were to visit, choose a different time to be able to do it.”
The White House addressed the politicization of the visit during Monday’s press briefing. Sara Sanders told members of the media that “The President has denounced racism, hatred, and bigotry in all forms, on a number of occasions. We’ll continue to do that. I’m doing it here today. And I would also say, at the same time, that some individuals — they’re grieving, they’re hurting.”
“The President wants to be there to show the support of this administration for the Jewish community. The rabbi said that he is welcome as well. And certainly, we want to show our support for those individuals,” Sanders stated.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, has publicly stated that President Trump has been one of Israel’s and the Jewish people’s most staunch ally. Most notably, was Trump’s promise to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, the Israeli officials said. Israel has also stated that actions taken by the Trump administration to address anti-Israeli policy at the United Nations and pulling the United States out of the Iran deal were real examples of actions taken by an administration that has a vested interest in protecting its ally in the Middle East.