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The Poway synagogue shooting is dividing the Jewish community in San Diego

Who's to blame for the rise in anti-Semitism?

by Dexter Thomas and Ani Ucar
May 1 2019, 2:12pm

SAN DIEGO — Last Saturday, a 19-year-old white supremacist walked into the Chabad of Poway synagogue and started shooting.

On Monday, Laurie Gilbert-Kaye was laid to rest, as her family and an entire community looked on.

In some ways, this attack has inspired members of the Jewish community to come together as they mourn. But it also seems to be causing division, as people argue over who's to blame for the rise in anti-Semitism.

To liberals, much of the blame lies with President Trump’s wink-wink relationship with the alt-right. But for those on the right, especially in the largely conservative community of Poway, the left’s criticism of Israel is a big part of the problem.

"We can't underestimate the virus-like nature of anti-Semitism," said Mischa Danzig, president of the pro-Israel group StandWithUs in San Diego.

One of the focal points of this debate has been Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who has recently been accused of anti-Semitism for her remarks about Israel.

This quickly became a wider political debate outside of the Jewish community: A day after the shooting, members of Congress, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Chip Roy essentially blamed the attack on Omar.

But leftists have accused the right of using the tragedy as a way to silence critics of Israel.

VICE News visited Poway to hear more about how politics are affecting the way the community deals with tragedy.

This segment originally aired April 30, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.