Two people grow up in the United States of America—one in the southeast, the other in the northeast. One young man is exposed early on to the hatred of Blacks and Jews; the other is apparently self-taught. His hatred assumed the cloak of a murderous rampage during which he took the lives of nine innocent individuals at Emmanuel Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The lives of a myriad of family and friends forever touched and changed by the heinous actions of evil incarnate.
Conversely, I am the other young man—raised by an anti-Semitic father who repeatedly told me that Jews were running the country, and Blacks were ruining it. His actions were despite the fact that my mother was Jewish. Why did I not turn out like Dylann Roof? The answer: God’s grace and a love for my mother that superseded everything to which my father subjected me.
When I was a youngster, my Jewish mother and I were repeatedly abused ostensibly for the same reason: my father thought she had had an affair with a Jewish man and that I was the illegitimate offspring. Nothing could have been further from the truth. During one of his rages when I was eleven, I was strangled and left for dead after trying to foil another attack aimed at my mother.
As an adult, I developed a deep love for the Jewish people. It led to a lifetime of work on behalf of Jews in Israel and the Ukraine, the area from which my great-grandfather and his family came. He and his congregation were boarded up inside a synagogue and the building set afire simply because it housed Jewish worshippers. While my mother and her sister escaped to the United States, many of their relatives were murdered in concentration camps during World War II.
After I had begun combatting anti-Semitism, I was targeted by a white supremacist, Richard Wayne Snell, a disciple of The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (better known as the CSA.) On November 3, 1983, Snell gunned down the owner of a small pawn shop in Texarkana, Arkansas. Snell thought his victim was a Jew; he wasn’t. The case confounded the authorities for over eight months. On June 30, 1984, Snell was stopped on a lonely western Arkansas highway by State Trooper Louis Bryant. As Bryant approached the vehicle, Snell opened fire with a modified Colt .45, fatally wounding the trooper.
A truck driver who saw the shooting followed Snell across the Oklahoma border and contacted the Broken Bow police. Snell ran headlong into a roadblock set up by the police. In the ensuing gun battle, Snell was captured after being wounded. Inside his car was found guns, boxes of ammunition, silencers, a sawed-off shotgun, and C-4 explosives. I received a phone call from an ATF agent who informed me that also on the front seat of Snell’s car was a single piece of paper with my name, address, and unlisted telephone number.
It was determined that Snell was aware of my book and television special, Israel, America’s Key to Survival, and wanted to call a halt to it. He was apparently offended by my work among the Jewish people.
It appears that Dylann Roof had created his own manifesto in the absence of a viable supremacist connection in South Carolina. In the document he had posted online, Roof railed against Blacks and Jews: “We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the Internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.” He attributed racial unrest to the “Jewish agitation of the Black race.” Yet another paragraph contains a vitriolic rant against Jews: “The problem is that Jews look White, and in many cases are White, yet they see themselves as minorities.”
Author Alice Sebold said of evil: “Murderers are not monsters, they’re men. And that’s the most frightening thing about them.” The man, Dylann Roof, sat for an hour in a church sanctuary in the midst of a Bible study. At his designated time, he rose, pulled out a .45-caliber Glock handgun and opened fire on the unsuspecting churchgoers.
Roof has been charged with the murders of six women and three men from age 26 to 87. He allegedly allowed one victim to live in order to deliver the reason for the attack to law enforcement. The attack by Dylann Roof was the deadliest attack in a place of worship in decades.
Michael D. Evans is the founder of the Friends of Zion Heritage Center in Jerusalem. The museum tells the stories of non-Jewish people who, throughout history, worked alongside the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. His latest book, See You in New York, is available at www.timeworthybooks.com.