A shooter entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh back in 2018 and killed 11 people and injured six more. Three days later President Trump visited the synagogue where he and the First Lady paid their respects to “11 wooden Stars of David” which had been set up outside. Trump then visited the hospital where the injured, several of whom were police officers, were still recovering. There were protests of Trump’s visit and Pittsburgh’s mayor and the Governor of Pennsylvania declined to meet with Trump during his visit.
Today, in a speech to Jewish leaders, President Biden offered his recollection of the time when he met with people at Tree of Life: ““I remember spending time at the, you know, going to the, you know, Tree of Life synagogue, speaking with them.”
There’s a problem with that recollection though. According to the director of the synagogue, Biden has never visited Tree of Life in the three years since the shooting.
Barb Feige, executive director of the Tree of Life, said that Biden did not visit the synagogue in the nearly three years since the anti-Semitic attack.
In a phone interview, Feige, executive director since July 2019, said firmly that “no” Biden didn’t visit, even before taking office when he had a lower public profile as a former vice president and then-Democratic presidential candidate.
I did a basic search and don’t see any evidence that Biden did visit Tree of Life after the attack. His campaign did issue a statement last year on the 2nd anniversary of the attack:
Two years ago, a white supremacist entered Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue and perpetrated the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history. Eleven innocent lives were taken that Shabbat morning, ripped away from their families by a lone gunman taking longtime forces of bigotry and prejudice to their violent conclusion. This act of terror was not only an assault against the Jewish community of Pittsburgh — it was a strike against the soul of our nation and the values for which America stands…
On behalf of Jill, Kamala, Doug, and our families, we stand with the people of Squirrel Hill, the entire Pittsburgh community, and all Jewish Americans on this solemn anniversary. May the memories of the victims forever be a blessing.
So it’s fair to say Biden has commented on the shooting but what is he remembering when he claims he visited and talked with people? Did he somehow visit and not tell anyone or is he just remembering something that didn’t happen? The White House was asked for comment and didn’t reply, which I guess means they aren’t sure either.
Here’s a longer clip showing the context of what Biden was saying. He’s pretty clearly talking about how hate erupts into violence and using the Tree of Life shooting as an example of that.