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The cowardly onslaught of hatred against diversity, perpetrated yesterday by an anti-Semite who opened fire on parishioners at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, left at least 11 people dead and six others injured, and the deep suffering of a community outraged during their peaceful spiritual encounter.

 We raise our voice in clear rejection of this attack against life, heightened by a fanatical aversion anchored, senselessly, in religious intolerance. The prosecution of this horrendous crime has to send a powerful message of zero impunity to any attack, because they are also a insult to peace.

 We extend our strong embrace of solidarity to the victims of this attack. Our empathy goes also to the Jewish communities of the rest of the United States and the world that, with this tragedy, confirm the irrational cruelty to which religious, racial, and other minorities are still exposed.

 Racial, religious and other minorities in Puerto Rico, and all over the globe, count on our activism in the fight against social fragmentation that encourages, more and more explicitly, its desire to torment the most vulnerable members of society. We all have to fight these evil acts. Indifference and forgetfulness that usually follow them become fertile ground for more cruelty.

We agree with David Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), that the attack on the sanctity of the Sabbath is a solemn reminder that Jews, “even in the U.S., must be constantly vigilant”.

It is necessary to strengthen the justice of efforts for tolerance through tolerance lessons and active resistance from schools, churches and civic organizations, in direct communication with the authorities of law and order.

Hate crimes reported to the authorities in the United States are increasing, threatening the health of communities. A recent study by the Center for the Study of the Crime of Hate and Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino found that crime increased by 12.5 percent in 2017 in the 10 largest U.S. cities. This percentage reflects the largest increase in these crimes in more than a decade. In contrast, the figures of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for the first half of 2017 showed that overall criminal activity in the United States had decreased by 0.8 percent in the violent crimes category and by 2.9 percent in crimes against property.

 In the U.S., the main victims of crimes that arise from racial or ethnic bias are African-Americans. Jews are the main victims of crimes related to religious intolerance.

Experts point out that many hate crimes are not reported. It is necessary to break the silence, face the fear that haters want to plunge their victims or witnesses -of behaviors that stereotype, bias and hate- in. Education is essential to stop these criminals. Otherwise, today's attack on a minority will be an attack against any of us tomorrow.

 The Pittsburg tragedy is another proof of the urgency of controlling indiscriminate access to guns in the U.S. The lack of adequate regulations feeds the firearms markets at the expense of the lives of innocents in schools, temples, homes and public places.

 It is necessary for elected officials to resolve this bleeding at once, showing that they are not accomplices to hate. The political class also has to create –through their example- a climate of healthy social harmony that discourages acts such as the one that killed people in Pittsburgh, and those attacks such as the mail bombs sent to politicians and other public figures. Religious, political, racial and other differences should serve us to grow in learning, not to cultivate hate.


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