Monday morning, in one of his first appearances following the horrific, anti-Semitic attack on his synagogue, CNN's Alisyn Camerota tried to cajole Rabbi Jeffrey Myers into blaming President Donald Trump for the shooting.
Myers presides over the Tree of Life Synagogue where a gunman opened fire Saturday, killing 11 and wounding at least 6 in what is being termed the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history, but he wasn't about to lay the blame for the gunman's hatred of the Jewish people at the feet of the president (or any political figure) — no matter how hard Camerota tried.
Camerota asked Myers if he blamed anyone “beyond the gunman” for Saturday's attack. He responded that the fault lies with the shooter.
“I don’t really foist blame upon any person,” Myers said. “Hate does not know religion, race, creed, political party. It’s not a political issue in any way, shape, or form. Hate does not know any of those things.”
Unsatisfied with his answer, Camerota again prodded, “What lights the match of hate? ... Can hate be cultivated?”
Myers gave an answer that Camerota likely didn't expect — not a condemnation of "hate speech" or "dangerous rhetoric" on the part of either the president or the media, but a lesson directly from his holy book on the evils that lurk in the souls of men and the hope God provides in times of trial.
“I think you’re raising one of those great questions that people far smarter than I can answer,” Myers replied. “I do recall this: if we look in the Bible after the story of the flood and Noah, God regretfully says to Noah, ‘I have learned that man from his youth is prone to evil,’ which is, you would think, a horrific thing for God to tell us.”
“The message I get from that is, yes, there is the possibility of hate in all people. But there is also the possibility of good,” Myers added. “And I have seen so much good these past two days, the emails, the texts.” He described how people of every religion have poured out their support for the community of Tree of Life Synagogue. An example of what he’s talking about are two Muslim groups that have crowdfunded more than $100,000 for the victims of the shooting. These are the good things the media ought to focus on, because as the rabbi said, “it shows me good will always win over evil.”
Still not satisfied that the rabbi wasn't obviously angry with President Donald Trump, Camerota came out and simply asked whether Myers blames the president, and whether he'd prefer Trump not attend any memorial service for the Tree of Life victims.
“The President of the United States is always welcome. I am a citizen, he is my president,” Myers responded, forcefully. “He is always welcome.”
Camerota was referring to a petition launched Monday by a progressive group called "Bend the Arc," which declared that Trump should not be allowed to attend any memorial service for victims of Saturday's shooting unless he unequivocally denounced "white supremacy," which "Bend the Arc" says connects directly to the Tree of Life shooting.
The gunman, who is in custody and is expected to be charged Monday on more than 50 state and Federal counts, was openly anti-Semitic, posting regularly on a Twitter-alternative forum called Gab about his hatred for the Jewish people and anyone who aided them, including President Trump.