By Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO – Just as we Jews hope that people will speak in support of those in our community who have been victimized by antisemitic terror, so too do we have an obligation to support members of other communities who are victimized by other kinds of hate, including Islamophobia.
Three Palestinian young men, all 20 years of age, were shot by an assailant on Saturday night, Nov. 25, as they talked in the front yard of a relative in Burlington, Vermont, after an evening of bowling. According to police, the assailant, did not speak before discharging “at least four rounds from the pistol and is believed to have fled on foot.” Two of the victims were struck in their torsos, and the other in the lower extremities, according to police.
There was immediate speculation that because the victims were speaking Arabic and two of them were wearing kaffiyehs, the traditional scarf worn by Palestinians, anti-Palestinian hate was the motive for the crime.
As I write this, the suspect – described only as a bearded white man – has not been apprehended, and what his motive may have been is not yet known.
Unprovoked shootings are never justified, no matter what the world situation may be. I would like to extend my sympathy to Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Tahseen Ali Ahmad, as well as to their families. It is outrageous that a gunman would commit such a horrendous act anywhere, and especially here in the pluralistic United States.
It has been reported from the Vermont Medical Center that one of the three young men suffered more extensive wounds than his two companions. Families of all three issued a joint statement saying their “primary concern is their full recovery and that they receive the critical medical support they need to survive.” They added that, “We will not be comfortable until the shooter is brought to justice.”
All of us—Jews and Arabs—can agree with those comments.
Police reported that one victim is a legal resident of the United States while the other two are American citizens, and that they were visiting Awartani’s grandmother, who lives in Burlington. It was reported that Awartani attends Brown University in Rhode Island; Abdalhamid studies at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, and Ahmad is a student at Trinity College in Connecticut. All three had previously been students at the Quaker-run Ramallah Friends School in the West Bank city that serves as the capital for the Palestinian Authority.
“Hate has no place here, or anywhere,” said U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind-Vermont). “I look forward to a full investigation.”
Another Jewish political figure, Mayor Milo Weinberger of Burlington, said the thought is “chilling” that the shooting may have been motivated by hate. “Violence of any kind against any person in our community is totally unacceptable and we will do everything in our power to find the perpetrator and hold them fully accountable,” he said.
Donald H. Harrison is editor emeritus of San Diego Jewish World. He may be contacted via [email protected]. This article is republished from San Diego Jewish World which, along with The Moderate Voice, is a member of the San Diego Online News Association.
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