Shootings are a wake-up call to deadly anti-Semitism in our midst

Only two weeks ago we ran an optimistic story about the Anti-Defamation League’s 2013 report on anti-Semitism, showing a marked drop in anti-Jewish activity in the United States, down to its lowest level since 1979.

Then Kansas City happened.

The April 13 shootings that killed three people at a JCC and a Jewish senior residence in suburban Overland Park, Kan. — the center of Jewish life in Greater Kansas City — have jerked the Jewish community back to reality. A known white supremacist has been charged with murder.

Anti-Semitism remains alive and lethal in the U.S.

Frazier Glenn Cross, known to the Anti-Defamation League, Southern Poverty Law Center and other hate-crime watch organizations as Frazier Glenn Miller, was one of the most notorious white supremacists in the 1980s, and for the past decade has been actively airing his racist and anti-Semitic rantings online — when he’s not running for political office.

It doesn’t matter that the people Miller allegedly gunned down in Kansas happened to be Christian. And it doesn’t matter that Miller was considered so unstable, even some of his fellow white supremacists wanted nothing to do with him.

What matters is that this 73-year-old former Klansman, even after having served three years in prison on weapons charges, appears to have acquired a shotgun illegally, crossed a state line and committed a shocking atrocity.

Prosecutors have filed charges of capital murder and first-degree murder against Miller. Hate crime charges are likely forthcoming. This vile man may never enjoy another day of freedom. That is small comfort to the families of victims William Corporon, his grandson Reat Underwood and Terri LaManno.

Incidents like this serve to remind us that as safe as   American Jews feel in this country, especially compared to Jews living in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, we are not safe enough.

Hatred of Jews festers on the far left, in the form of nihilistic anti-Israel and anti-Zionist activity. It festers on the far right with racist neo-Nazi acts such as the April 13 shootings.

It is up to a determined Jewish community and its allies — government, other faith communities and law enforcement — to make sure vigilance is maintained and that criminal acts do not go unpunished.

We cannot eradicate anti-Semitism. But we can make life difficult for those who would harm us. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the Kansas City victims.