Last week a Muslim from Seattle, Washington vented his hatred of Jews on 6 women that were in the town’s Jewish Center. He shot one woman to death and wounded the other five. In my opinion this is certainly newsworthy and deserving of the front page. Yet the big story over the past couple of days has been Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic, drunken tirade that occurred when he was arrested last Saturday.
Here is the story:
A mother-of-two who was shot dead when a Muslim gunman stormed the offices of a Jewish organisation was buried on Monday as the Seattle community tried to come to terms with the shocking attack.
Pam Waechter, 58, was killed and five others injured in the shooting spree at the downtown offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on Friday in what the police are treating as a race-hate attack.
The suspect has been named by police as Naveed Afzal Haq, 30, who lives around 200 miles from Seattle. He appeared in court on Sunday where a judge ordered that he be held on $50 million bail pending formal charges of murder and attempted murder.
According to police reports, the suspect waited in hiding outside the organisation’s offices before grabbing a teenage girl as she entered the building. He then opened fire with two handguns before emergency response workers were able to convince him to surrender himself
Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske told reporters: “He said he wanted the United States to leave Iraq, that his people were being mistreated and that the United States was harming his people. And he pointedly blamed the Jewish people for all of these problems. He stated he didn’t care if he lived.”
Waechter, who was the Jewish Federation’s annual campaign director, was remembered during a funeral service at Temple B’nai Torah on Monday. She had been a member of the shul for some 30 years after converting to Judaism when she married four decades ago.
In a message on the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle website, the organisation’s head, Robin Boehler wrote: “I cannot express enough my personal sense of loss from the death of one of our dear friends, Pam Waechter, who many of you know well given her countless years of committed service to the local Jewish community. Pam was killed only yesterday and yet we feel her absence already.”
She added that “Cheryl Stumbo, Dayna Klein, Carol Goldman, Layla Bush and Christina Rexroad were shot and taken to Harborview Medical Center. We are hopeful that ongoing reports of their improving conditions continues”.
Muslim groups in the region expressed their sorrow at the incident and issued a plea for the Middle East conflict not to be “transplanted to this country”, while security at synagogues and mosques was beefed up, with a heavy police presence around Jewish institutions.
But Rabbi Marvin Hier, head of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, said: "We will not be intimidated. We will attend our Shabbat services and gather at our institutions. This is the United States of America and we have full confidence in our police to ensure the community's safety."
Mel Gibson has his own demons to deal with and I hope he seeks God's help. His words were hurtful, but not fatal. When a man decides to anihilate a group of people that he disagrees with due to religious, cultural or racial issues and he lives within the United States of America, I say this needs to be something that should be trumpeted much louder than Mel's issues.