President Biden told a group of Jewish leaders Thursday that he visited the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh after the anti-Semitic attack in October 2018 that left 11 people dead, but an executive from the synagogue is disputing his claims saying that he never visited following the horrific massacre.
“I remember spending time at the — you know, going to the — you know, the Tree of Life Synagogue, speaking with the — it just is amazing these things are happening in America,” Biden said to Jewish leaders in a virtual call ahead of the Jewish High holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. “And I guess the point I want to make is that it just shows that if we walk away from ‘Never Again,’ it’s going to happen again. It can’t happen again.”
“Never Again” is a rallying cry in the aftermath of the Holocaust, when the Nazis killed approximately 6 million Jews.
“And so, I guess the point I’m making is that the attack in Pittsburgh, those attacks — all anti-Semitic attacks aren’t just a strike against the Jewish community; they’re a strike against the soul of our nation and the values which we say we stand for. No matter its source or stated rationale, we have to and will condemn this prejudice at every turn, alongside other forms of hate,” Biden added.
According to the New York Post, Barb Feige, the executive director of the Tree of Life, told the publication in a phone interview that Biden never paid a visit following the anti-Semitic massacre. Feige firmly responded “No” when asked if Biden ever stopped by the synagogue in the nearly three years since he had a lower public profile as the former vice president before becoming the then-Democratic presidential candidate in 2019.
The Republican Jewish Coalition confirmed the New York Post “discrepancy” to Biden’s claims, tweeting that the president has “flat out lied about visiting” the Tree of Life synagogue.
Discrepancy? You mean Joe Biden flat out lied about visiting Tree of Life synagogue.
The ultimate irony: the person who actually did visit in 2018 with members of the Jewish community? His predecessor. https://t.co/C4pbTuqR19
— RJC (@RJC) September 2, 2021
“Wow. Biden lies about visiting Tree of Life synagogue in the aftermath of the tragedy in call with Jewish leaders,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks tweeted. “That is not normal or ok.”
The Tree of Life synagogue was the target of an October 2018 mass shooting when a lone antisemite gunman opened fire during the synagogue’s Shabbat morning service. 11 people were killed, along with 6 people injured, including two police officers and two SWAT officers who were also hurt during the incident. It was the deadliest attack in American Jewish history.
Biden has only issued a statement during the second anniversary of the deadly attack, saying, “When anti-Semitism is allowed to fester, it shreds the fabric of our communities and erodes our soul.”
Days after the deadly synagogue shooting, former President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, along with Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, who is of Jewish religion, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin visited Pittsburgh to pay their respects at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Inside the synagogue, the Trumps’ placed stones on each of the 11 Star of David memorials set up outside the synagogue.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.