June 14, 2016: New York, NY - The Jewish Labor Committee condemns the mass shooting in Orlando, FL, which targeted the LGBT community. We send our condolences to the families of those who were killed, and our wishes for a full recovery to those injured.
We stand in solidarity with the LGBT people who were the direct targets of this terrorist attack, and the larger communities that they represent, sadly, by this most recent act of terrorist violence. For this attack was not solely aimed at those who were in that club on that night, but by extension a much larger target.
This was not just an attack on the LGBT communities of Orlando, but on freedom itself, on the basic principles of cultural openness, diversity and tolerance. Indeed, our way of life.
But standing with the victims of this latest outrage is not enough. These attacks have to be themselves attacked on many fronts:
• In the United States, serious gun control laws to restrict access to automatic weapons must be enacted on the federal and state level, and more serious penalties against those who own illegally-secured weapons, and use weapons in the commission of a crime, must be enacted. The power of the gun lobby must be challenged and curtailed. Too many times, easy access to weapons has led to them being in the hands of people with religious, political, racist or personal grudges who are taking them out against innocent victims.
• Homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia must be all be challenged wherever they rear their ugly heads, and we call on leaders in our communities and organizations to speak out clearly and consistently on this.
• Internationally, Islamist extremism, with religious and political components, provides inspiration to as well as support for terrorist acts such as that in Orlando. The full weight of the free world must be brought to bear to break its hold in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. At the same time, we recognize and remind others that radical Islamism is an extreme minority movement within the Muslim world, and does not represent the mainstream of Islam. We cannot allow the struggle against ISIS, Al Qaeda and other similar movements to devolve into or in any way legitimize Islamophobia.
It is time for Americans of every background to reject intolerance, and to come together and to cherish diversity, tolerance, and mutual respect as members of one community.