Saperstein: "Group-based assaults are more than mere acts of violence. They are nothing less than attacks on those values that are the pillars of our republic and the guarantors of our freedom. They are a betrayal of the promise of America."
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WASHINGTON, D.C. August 9, 2012 - In response to the tragic shooting at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and the mosque in Joplin, MO that was burned, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, participated in a press briefing with some of the nations highest ranking religious officials organized by Shoulder-to-Shoulder, a national campaign of interfaith, faith-based and religious organizations dedicated to ending anti-Muslim sentiment, and issued the following statement:
"We are horrified by this weekend's attack on the Sikh Temple of Oak Creek, Wisconsin and deeply concerned about the fire that destroyed the mosque in Joplin, MO. Whether arson or an accident, the fact that this nation presumes that this well could have been a hate crime against that Muslim community is itself a testament to the divisiveness of this moment in American history. Our thoughts are with all of those affected _ those whose lives were taken, those who were injured and those who are family members or members of the communities affected by these tragic events.
America is the most religiously diverse nation in the history of humankind. Hate crimes and assaults against individuals and groups based on their identity are more than mere acts of violence, with all the tragic consequence they entail. Hate crimes are an effort intended to spur group hatred. They are aimed at tearing at the ties that bind us together as a nation. They are nothing less than attacks on those values that are the pillars of our republic and the guarantors of our freedom. They are a betrayal not only of our most essential religious values but of the promise of America.
The shootings in Oak Creek also serve as yet another tragic reminder of the violence wrought by guns, which are simply too easily available to those who seek to cause grievous harm.
As a people who have endured persecution throughout history, Jews know all too well the dangers that stem from a failure to defend the religious freedom, safety and well-being of others and from a failure to speak forcefully and act effectively against discrimination and demonization of the "other." The Reform Movement stands shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in the American Sikh and Muslim communities, sends its prayers to the families of those who died and wishes healing to those who were wounded in this senseless tragedy."