...back into the blog after a long dry spell.
I've been busy and working hard--theater, homelife, friends, money, you name it--and lacking the precious hi-speed line. No longer. And just in time as well, as I'm going a-travelling to Israel in two weeks and will have a lot to write about. For now I'm trying to wrap up some Philly things, as well as start new balls rolling (sounds great eh?) so that when I get back I have things waiting for me and don't have to start from scratch.
In any case, here's a little something: a letter that ND (my heavenly honey, if you haven't heard) and I wrote and sent to the Philly Inquirer after the recent Seattle shootings. Of course that event hasn't exploded into national ugliness, because of the much worse international ugliness in Lebanon and northern Israel, not to mention Iraq. Well, at least our fears about Jewish isolationism haven't come true...
Last Friday six workers at the Jewish Federation of Seattle were shot by a self-proclaimed Muslim American. We mourn the death of Pam Waechter, and pray for the speedy recovery of the other victims. This event has cut deeply into Seattle’s urban fabric.
Fearmongering voices within the Jewish community are now calling for increased security at Jewish institutions. Robert Sokolov, the Jewish Agency representative in Seattle, said in response, “Jews in the U.S. are not used to thinking in terms of security. I hope now people will wake up.” (Ha’aretz, July 31, 2006: “Security experts hope Seattle attack will shatter U.S. Jews’ illusion of safety”) These statements propagate fear and insecurity among American Jews, rather than proposing effective safeguards for all communities.
The Seattle shootings are a sociopathic hate crime committed by an individual. They are neither a political act, nor a representation of the Muslim American community’s views. The Seattle Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement saying, "we categorically condemn this and any similar acts of violence. […] We also hope that the perpetrator of this crime is brought to justice." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 28, 2006: “Six shot, one killed at Seattle Jewish federation”)
As Jews living in vibrantly multicultural neighborhoods, we know that security comes from strong diverse communities and social ties rather than from armed guards and locked doors. American civil society is based upon freedom of expression, and on public defense of diversity. Hate crimes threaten our freedom of expression, and should motivate public coalition-building.As the people of Seattle recover from this tragedy, we must learn as a society not to drown in waves of fear. American communities must strengthen our commitment to a diverse, open, and safe public sphere.
Nachshon David Mahanymi