We're learning more about the hostage crisis that took place in a Colleyville, TX synagogue on Saturday, and each detail is more upsetting and harrowing than the last.
To bring you up to date, a very cursory summary from the Washington Post:
Officials on either side of the Atlantic were investigating on Sunday the movements and motives of a 44-year-old British citizen who flew to Texas and held four people hostage for hours at a Dallas-area synagogue in an incident that traumatized a community and stoked fears of antisemitic violence.
The standoff — which ended with Malik Faisal Akram dead and his hostages escaping — sent shock waves through the local Jewish community, produced widespread denunciations of antisemitism and sparked calls for authorities to do more to ensure safety at synagogues.
During the standoff, according to law enforcement officials, the suspect brandished a gun and what he said were explosives. The gunman could be heard on a live stream that carried part of the ordeal, saying he had targeted a synagogue because the United States “only cares about Jewish lives.”
It's certainly easy enough to find the newsy information one seeks about the 10-hour standoff between Akram and Texas and Federal law enforcement that captured the attention of the nation on the wintery Saturday of a holiday weekend. The holiday? Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.
On a weekend when many of us Jews and Democrats planned to focus on mitigating the harm of white supremacy and institutional racism in our nation to honor the legacy of Dr. King, this act of terror diverted us from our goal. And isn't that the purpose of white supremacy?
This crime is the perfect example.
A vile side effect of white supremacy is that when Jews are the victims of hate crimes at the hands of Muslims, we must also — in the midst of our trauma and wounded state — be fierce, vigilant in our insistence white people don't use the crime as an excuse for Islamophobia. Most of us reflexively come out immediately in defense of our Muslim cousins, because we know white people will do this to them, and we feel protective, even in our weakened state.
That we need to do that? Is the fault of white supremacy.
The fact that millions of Jews watch in horror, generational trauma triggered, the oldest bigotry still raging, as four innocent Jews are held captive by someone we recognize we'll need to protect once it is over — even while it is going on — is a mind-f*ck of epic proportions.
Throughout the day on Saturday I saw tweet after tweet, Facebook posts galore, from fellow Jews, rabbis, community leaders, imploring not just the safe return of the congregants and their rabbi, but the sentiment, "AntiSemitism is not an excuse for Islamophobia." In our distress, we still pled for mercy for the community we feared would bear the brunt of the backlash.
What did Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweet?
That he felt comfortable exploiting the terror of his Jewish community to bash Pres. Joe Biden with a political tweet that was even in and of itself a LIE? Right in the middle of the crisis? Before it had been resolved? Before he knew if the Jews being held hostage would come out of it alive? What a disgusting, heartless ghoul.
White supremacy is the cause of this.
This is not a complaint about having to stand up against Islamophobia, but of explanation and request to focus. Nor is this to say no Jew is a bigot or racist - we have those among us for sure.
It is to emphasize how white supremacy is at the root of THIS nation's ills...how it manifests. How it compounds trauma of its targets. How it refuses to allow room for processing, for healing, for moving on.
We Jews, though, along with our Muslim cousins, are better than what white supremacy thinks of us. We'll prove it. We've done it before, we'll do it again. To honor Dr. King is a motivation as fine as any I can imagine.