Pittsburgh shootingMoscow, October 29th, 2018 – There is no excuse for the barbaric shooting inside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh which left eleven people dead on Saturday, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell said on Sunday in Moscow, one day ahead of the opening of the Second International Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism, Xenophobia and Racism, organised by the Russian Jewish Congress.

“Any attempt to understand, justify or rationalise the motive of the killer or to point fingers at political enemies for this tragic massacre is an assault on the memories of the victims and an indirect legitimisation of anti-Semitism. Today ideological extremists are unified on one issue – their obsession and hatred of Jews. Whilst some right-wing extremists blame the deadly shooting on the US President for being too friendly with the State of Israel, left wing radicals put the blame on the Israeli Prime Minister for allegedly igniting violence against American Jews for his policies in the Middle East or on the US President for his domestic policies. These accusations are utterly misleading and dangerous. By accepting these, and other justifications for the killing of Jews, we are ourselves giving in to anti-Semitism,” he said.

“This is not the time to point fingers but to unite in our fight against anti-Semitism and hatred. Our hearts, thoughts and prayer are with the American Jewish Community and especially with the families of the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.”

Sandell has been invited to Moscow for a two-day conference hosted by the Russian Jewish Congress. The theme of the conference, “Protecting the future” has proven timely and critical after the shootings in Pittsburgh. Among the topics to be covered at the conference are “Anti-Semitism, Racism and Xenophobia on the internet”, “The role of religion in combating Anti-Semitism, Racism and Xenophobia”, “Culture and Education as a tool for combatting Anti-Semitism, Racism and Xenophobia.”

Among the speakers to address the conference are Ambassador Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, Chief Rabbi of Russia, Berl Lazar, President of the Conference of European Rabbis and Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinсhas Goldschmidt, Russian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Vershinin and some seventy other academics, government leaders, religious leaders and diplomats.