(CNSNews.com) – Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Synagogue, where a gunman killed 11 people on Saturday in Pittsburgh, said Monday that he welcomes President Donald Trump’s visit.
“The president of the United States is always welcome. I’m a citizen. He’s my president. He’s certainly welcome,” Myers said when asked whether he wants the president to visit.
The White House announced Monday that Trump and first lady Melania Trump are planning to visit the Steel City to pay their respects to the victims.
When asked whether he blames anyone for the shooting massacre besides the gunman, Myers said, “I don’t really foist blame upon any person. Hate does not know religion, race, creed, political party. It’s not a political issue in any way, shape or form. Hate does not know any of those things. It exists in all people.”
“But can hate be cultivated? I mean what we’re struggling with today is maybe hate’s in all people. Maybe it’s dormant. What lights the match of hate?” CNN’s Alisyn Camerato asked.
Myers said, according to the Bible, people are prone to evil since childhood, but just like there’s a possibility of hate in everyone, there is also a possibility of good, and good always wins out over evil.
“I think you’re raising one of those great questions that people far smarter than I can answer, but I do recall this-- If you look in the Bible after the story of the flood and Noah, God regretfully says to Noah, ‘I have learned that man from his youth is prone to evil,’ which is you would think is a horrific thing for God to tell us,” the rabbi said.
“The message I get from that is yes, there is the possibility of hate in all people, but there’s also the possibility of good, and good will always win out over hate if we let it in each of us. And I have seen so much good these past two days, the emails, the texts. When I went home last night, I think I finally cleared out from my phone all my emails. I woke up this morning. I had 399 emails,” he said.
“These are strangers, people I’ve never met from around the world – Jew, Christian, Muslims, Sikh, every religion, people just pouring out their hearts and giving support, and it shows me good will always win out over evil,” Myers added.
Myers' invitation to Trump stands in stark contrast to a group of rabbis called Bend the Act: Pittsburgh, who wrote an open letter to Trump, saying he was not welcome in the city until he fully denounces white nationalism.
“For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement. You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence,” the leaders wrote.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has asked Trump to postpone his visit, saying the priority will be for the victims’ families.
“I do believe that it would be best to put the attention on the families this week and if he were to visit, choose a different time to be able to do it,” Peduto told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
“Our focus as a city will be on the families and the outreach they’ll need this week and the support that they’ll need to get through it,” Peduto said.
When asked if rhetoric has been has had an impact on the country, Peduto said, “Words matter.”
“If you take a drop of dye and put it into a glass of water, it turns the color of the water," the mayor said.
“If you put words of hate out in a place where those words had been hidden and recognized as being words that were not acceptable, you allow that to become acceptable, then you allow the next steps to occur,” Peduto said.
"The next steps where there is violence against people who are walking down the streets, the next steps where there is graffiti being written on walls, the next steps where somebody enters a place that is so sacred, where people go to find sanctuary and peace with God and somebody feels that is the way that they will express their hatred with murder,” he said.