Skip to main content

Rabbi: Hate-filled violence threatens us all

By Rabbi Mark Levin
updated 1:20 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Frazier Glenn Cross, a 73-year-old Missouri man with a long history of spouting anti-Semitic rhetoric, is seen in a police car Sunday, April 13. He is suspected of fatally shooting three people: a boy and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kansas, and a woman at a nearby assisted-living facility. Frazier Glenn Cross, a 73-year-old Missouri man with a long history of spouting anti-Semitic rhetoric, is seen in a police car Sunday, April 13. He is suspected of fatally shooting three people: a boy and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kansas, and a woman at a nearby assisted-living facility.
HIDE CAPTION
Deadly shootings in Kansas City suburb
Deadly shootings in Kansas City suburb
Deadly shootings in Kansas City suburb
Deadly shootings in Kansas City suburb
Deadly shootings in Kansas City suburb
Deadly shootings in Kansas City suburb
Deadly shootings in Kansas City suburb
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mark Levin: Shootings point to culture of hate-filled violence tolerated in U.S.
  • He says incident threatens Jews but also shows bolstering support of larger community
  • He says wanton hate in U.S. affects many; at least two of those targeted were not Jews
  • Levin: Society is guilty; it should address weapons, mental health and culture of violence

Editor's note: Mark H. Levin is the pulpit rabbi at Congregation Beth Torah in Overland Park, Kansas. He has lived in the greater Kansas City area since 1976. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- As Jews prepare for Passover, our community has been hauled into the violence that plagues our nation. At this moment, we don't know for certain whether the killings Sunday at two Jewish Centers in Overland Park, Kansas, were aimed exclusively at Jews, but it certainly feels that way.

In a larger sense, we have been victimized by the random, hate-filled violence that steals lives and futures in this country daily.

Mark Levin
Mark Levin

Perhaps it is no coincidence that this hateful attack occurs at Passover. It surely threatens Jews' sense of security and multiplies the fear that we are persecuted. I wish, however, that you could know of the loving calls I am receiving from friends and clergy all over the wider metropolitan area and indeed around the world. Our neighbors: Jews, Christians and Muslims are outraged that senseless murder would be aimed at our community.

We live among friends, and that is very different from Pharaoh's Egypt, Nazi Germany or any other place in which Jews have suffered persecution. We are being singled out, but in a larger sense we are not, because this is no longer a unique act of terror. Rather, the scourge of violence in America threatens us all. Those who hate as a way of life must be rooted out, isolated and punished.

As Jews, we are no strangers to violence or wanton hatred. Many of us grew up with the fear of persecution. But we are not alone, either in our suffering or in our fears. Our newspapers report daily murderous acts against one group or another: blacks, gays, children, Muslims, minorities of all sorts. Many of the perpetrators are not sane; many of the victims are unsuspecting. The more proximate we are to the event, as the Jews of Overland Park were on Sunday, the more vulnerable and violated we feel.

Suspect described as 'anti-Semite'
Shooting suspect due in court today
Mom shocks at vigil for slain family
Deadly shooting rattles Jewish community

But look at the reality. At least two of those killed were not the apparent intended targets: Jewish people. They attended a nearby Methodist church. They were, tragically, in the line of fire because they had come to the Jewish Center to be part of an event, further evidence that this nation does not single us out as a hated minority but accepts us as beloved members of society and friends.

Rather, our fear and our concern should be directed at a society that will not spend the resources to provide care for the mentally ill, will not limit the means by which violence is perpetrated and does not share common social purpose sufficient to protect us all from these random killings. For that, we are all guilty.

We need to search our souls to ask why we, as a society, allow these daily murders to continue. On Sunday, Jews were apparently singled out. Tomorrow, it could well be another group, and Overland Park will recede in memory. But the truth is that we are all bound by our human experience and the tragic violence that is overwhelming the United States, ending lives and destroying families.

Our prayers are with the victims and their families. They must be our main concern, as well as those who feel threatened by random violence. Sunday demonstrated that any of us could be singled out, and therefore we see we are one people that must be united in our conviction that we will not tolerate the hatred that murders innocent people and tears at the body of our nation.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:56 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Ukraine's president says the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act, but Richard Barrett says it would be considered terrorism only if it was intentional
updated 4:15 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Robert McIntyre says the loophole that lets firms avoid taxes should be closed
updated 3:28 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Aaron Miller says Kerry needs the cooperation of Hamas, Israel, Egypt and others if he is to succeed in his peacemaking efforts
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Jeronimo Saldana and Malik Burnett say Gov. Perry's plan to send National Guard to the border won't solve the escalating immigration problem.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Sally Kohn: The world's fish and waters are polluted and under threat. Be very careful what fish you eat
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Les Abend says threat information that pilots respond to is only as good as the intelligence from air traffic controllers. And none of it is a match for a radar-guided missile
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Frida Ghitis: Anger over MH17 is growing against pro-Russia separatists. It's time for the Dutch government to lead, she writes
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama called inequality the "defining challenge" of our time but hasn't followed through.
updated 7:57 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Gene Seymour says the 'Rockford Files' actor worked the persona of the principled coward, charming audiences on big and small screen for generations
updated 10:17 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Daniel Treisman says that when the Russian leader tied his fate to the Ukraine separatists, he set the stage for his current risky predicament
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Andrew Kuchins says urgent diplomacy -- not sanctions -- is needed to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine that helped lead to the downing of an airliner there.
updated 9:50 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Jim Hall and Peter Goelz say there should be an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened to MH17.
updated 11:07 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Pilot Bill Palmer says main defense commercial jets have against missiles is to avoid flying over conflict areas.
updated 1:55 PM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Valerie Jarrett says that working women should not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
updated 3:53 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
David Wheeler says the next time you get a difficult customer representative, think about recording the call.
updated 3:33 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich says the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world.
updated 6:11 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Michael Desch: It's hard to see why anyone, including Russia and its local allies, would have intentionally targeted the Malaysian Airlines flight
updated 3:14 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must remember our visceral horror at the news of children killed in an airstrike on a Gaza beach next time our politicians talk of war
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Sally Kohn says now the House GOP wants to sue Obama for not implementing a law fast enough, a law they voted down 50 times, all reason has left the room.
updated 8:14 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
A street sign for Wall Street
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John McCain and others want to scale back the "too big to fail" banks that put us at risk of another financial collapse.
updated 4:16 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Newt Gingrich writes an open letter to Robert McDonald, the nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
updated 12:01 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Paul Begala says Dick Cheney has caused an inordinate amount of damage yet continues in a relentless effort to revise the history of his failures.
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Kids who takes cell phones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night.
updated 1:29 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Buzz Aldrin looked at planet Earth as he stood on talcum-like lunar dust 45 years ago. He thinks the next frontier should be Mars.
updated 2:04 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Mark Zeller never thought my Afghan translator would save his life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill him. The Taliban retaliated by placing him on the top of its kill list.
updated 11:18 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Jeff Yang says an all-white cast of Asian characters in cartoonish costumes is racially offensive.
updated 9:24 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Gary Ginsberg says the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s reaction to an event in 1995 summed up his character
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Meg Urry says most falling space debris lands on the planet harmlessly and with no witnesses.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT