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HIAS CEO Speaks Out After Synagogue Mass Shooting: ‘Hate Speech Always Turns into Hate Actions’

Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, spoke out hours after the deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that was reportedly prompted, in part, by the shooter’s hatred toward HIAS’s work of supporting immigrants.

“There is a growing space in this country for hate speech. And hate speech always turns into hate actions. And that’s what we are seeing again and again this week,” Hetfield told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin.  “Our focus needs to be on fighting hate. We can’t stand by as individuals or organizations or governments when people spew hatred against Jews, against refugees, against Latinos, against any group that some might see as the other.”

Then, when asked if he thought the problem was growing, he said this: “It’s growing around the world and there’s a rise in nativism. There’s a real fear of the other and I think we’ve been too nice in allowing people to get away with hateful statements. We can’t anymore. And I have to say that today, when there was — during President Trump’s remarks, he repeatedly invoked anti-semitism. Anti-semitism was the motivation for this killing. But this killer equated Jews with welcoming refugees. This is about fighting all hate, fighting hate against refugees, against Jews, against anybody who is seen as being the other.”

The alleged shooter, Robert Bowers, made a number of anti-Semitic and hateful remarks on social media including this one on the day of the attack: “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

Watch above, via CNN

[image via screengrab]

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