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Jewish Congresswoman Shot, May Survive

Would be first rep. killed in America since Reconstruction

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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.(Wikipedia)

Though we don’t know for sure, it looks like Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, 40, the third-term congresswoman from Arizona who was shot point-blank in the head during a “Congress on Your Corner” event in Tucson this morning, is going to survive. Several of the other victims of the gunman’s subsequent bullet-spraying will not be so lucky. Giffords is Jewish—the first Jewish woman to be elected from Arizona—and is a moderate Democratic representing a conservative district along the Mexico border.

We do not yet know if the attempt on her life was politically motivated—the single suspect, a 22-year-old white man named Jared Loughner, is in police custody. UPDATE: He seems to be a fringe sort of character who listed Mein Kampf among his favorite books and had an obsession with currency. So—for now—it seems wise to keep speculation and broader assigning of blame to a minimum. I’ll merely note that Giffords was heavily and particularly criticized by right-wing leaders associated with the Tea Party for her support for health-care reform.

In the most recent election cycle, her Jewishness was briefly made an issue when a Republican National Committee operative questioned her stance on Israel, and referred to her as someone “who claims to be a Jewess.” (In fact, she’s the great-granddaughter of a Lithuanian rabbi.) She supports direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and said that a 2001 trip to Israel was “one of the most memorable experiences of my life.” She added, “I got to see firsthand the sacrifices that Israelis make in the name of security because of the dangerous state of affairs there. I will always be a strong supporter of Israel.”

It appears that only two active U.S. representatives have been killed: One, from Arkansas, during Reconstruction; and another, Leo Ryan, in 1978 in Guyana by the cult behind the Jonestown Massacre.

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Shmuel says:

As you wrote “it seems wise to keep speculation and broader of assigning of blame to a minimum”….so it real classy of you to imply a line later it is people on the right who did this.

Marc Tracy says:

actually I reported that a person named Jared Laughner is suspected of doing it.

I grew up in Arizona and this incredibly sad. I’m so sorry for the victims.

The suspect is definitely a rambling, non-sensical kook. His YouTube channel is here:

I see you say not to place blame, but place it on the tea party. If a republican made discriminatory remarks you have used this to inflame this article in your favor.This person should face censure.
I stand with the tea party sick of corruption and malfeasance in government. The real reason for this tragic event will soon materialize. I pray for Refuah Schlema , to this poor woman who has already shown us that God keeps his promise, she is still alive!

Jerry Shapiro says:

actually, mr loughner does list mein kampf among his favorites…he also lists the communist manifesto and animal farm…he has a very eclectic reading list (assuming this is the same person, which is a big assumption, particularly since no other news source is reporting a name at this time):
I had favorite books: Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Pulp,Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver’s Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno.

“I’ll merely note”…shame on you, Mr.Tracy. I am very far from a tea partier, but its clear from the video that we both watched that the suspect is a paranoid schizophrenic. He is obsessed with grammar and currency, and thinks he is being controlled by outside forces.

His age and his evident rejection by the armed forces strongly back up this argument – most paranoid schizophrenics emerge around age 19 or 20.

Craig Berrington says:

Of course, the shooter seems deranged, but these events don’t materialize out of nowhere. He not only lists Mein Kampf as a favorite book, but he lives in an environment where threats against Giffords had proliferated. Her office had been attacked. She had been reviled for her support of both immigration reform and the health care legislation. Her father said today that the Tea Party was her enemy. Sarah Pallin had targeted her in an inflammatory posting that Palin just took down today. Her Republican opponent this year invited supporters to a target shooting anti-Giffords event this fall.

Is all of this unrelated to the shooter’s acting out in his attack today? You can believe anything you want, but the early evidence points in a different direction. I am old enough to remember the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The right wing hatred today reminds me of nothing so much as the environment in 1962-63 that led up to the Kennedy murder. Just substitute Tea Party for John Birch Society. I’m only surprised by two things: first, that it didn’t happen earlier, and second, that the attack wasn’t on the President.

n the most recent election cycle, her Jewishness was briefly made an issue when a Republican National Committee operative questioned her stance on Israel, and referred to her as someone “who claims to be a Jewess.” (In fact, she’s the great-granddaughter of a Lithuanian rabbi.) She supports direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and said that a 2001 trip to Israel was “one of the most memorable experiences of my life.” She added, “I got to see firsthand the sacrifices that Israelis make in the name of security because of the dangerous state of affairs there. I will always be a strong supporter of Israel.”
What courage in this day and age, to stand up and to be able to say, “I will always be a strong supporter of Israel.” Not too many others in the US administration are saying that these days.
May we pray for her quick healing and recovery…for her and now also for Debbie Friedman…both stories made known to me today…

Michael says:

Mr. Tracy,

Did it really seem fair to imply that this horrible crime was connected to HCR bill and “criticism from right-wring leaders”?

Is a man’s death and a woman’s near-fatal shooting fit occasion for partisan sniping?

All the Best,
Michael Nahum

Wow, so many people here are totally ignorant of the hateful rhetoric coming out of conservatives lately.

Rep. Grijalva: “The climate has gotten so toxic in our political discourse, setting up for this kind of reaction for too long. It’s unfortunate to say that. I hate to say that,” Grijalva said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “If you’re an opponent, you’re a deadly enemy,” Grijalva said of the mindset among Arizona extremists. “Anybody who contributed to feeding this monster had better step back and realize they’re threatening our form of government.”

The sheriff at the scene: “The vitriol we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living doing that …. That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences.”

Is it appropriate to mention at the moment? Maybe not. Is it relevant and accurate? Yes.

Craig Berrington says:

This is not about partisan sniping and it most certainly is not about strongly held differences over public policy. What this is about is the deliberate sowing of the seeds of hatred by the extreme political right wing in America since Obama has come to power. It is also about the fear that otherwise responsible conservatives have shown in the face of these hate mongers. They will learn that those who believe they can ride the tiger wind-up inside. As Jews, we should be particularly attuned to the power of hate speech.

Reports are now emerging that this was no one-off, aberent event, but that the shooter has had a history with the local police over death threats. They also believe that there may have been a second person involved. I’m perfectly prepared to let the facts emerge, but it is critical that we not allow a white wash of those facts if they point to uncomfortable truths.

Michael says:


Representative Grijalva is as liberal as congressmen come. That’s certainly his right, but it doesn’t make him a source of reliable information on conservative opinion.

The Sheriff’s remark could describe liberal mischief-making as well easily as conservative. So, by the way, could Laughner’s reading list. How many Tea Partiers do you think are reading _The Communist Manifesto_?

Turns out Laughner was also reading _Alice in Wonderland_ and _The Wizard of Oz_. Now who is going to get to the bottom of *that*?

All the Best,
Michael Nahum

Craig Berrington says:

My guess, Mr. Nahum, is that the facts are going to show that the shooter was infested with both hard right wing ideas and the words of permission to commit deadly violence against those who disagree. If I am right, conservatives should take the lead in cleansing their movement of the purveyors of this filth. That’s what Bill Buckley did. But, alas, there are no Bill Buckley’s left.

Michael says:

Mr. Berrington,

One of the more sober habits of the latter-day Left has been to remind overheated conservatives that not every maniac is Hitler and that not every year is 1939.

One of its less sober habits is to drop all that when it can gain advantage by doing so, or by pretending to forget that partisans of Left and Right are in a state of permanent outrage at one other.

But now that the death toll has climbed to six, including a child, something about debating partisan scoring seems indecent. Better to let silence reign, no?

All the Best,
Michael Nahum

Isabel Ringer says:

Having worked in mental health most of my life, please, all of you, pay attention. This young killer is clearly a paranoid schizophrenic. They make a hash out of anything they hear (left, right, center) and act to shut up the voices in their own heads. This is a genetic disorder. I agree the Tea Party was very hostile to her. I seriously doubt if that is a factor for this mentally ill person.

George says:

One other congressman was killed in office: Rep. Allard Lowenstein, D-N.Y., was shot to death in his Manhattan office on March 14, 1980, by Dennis Sweeney.

B”H May Hashem grant a speedy and full recovery to Gavriella bas Sarah.

shualah elisheva says:

i am shocked, sometimes, by the tart nastiness of comments about tablet magazine + its reporters. if you don’t like the authors [who write, generally, very well and with an understanding of their audience] or the electronic magazine [which also has a decent grasp of its demographic], then quit reading it and find something more to your liking, whatever that slant may be.

a refuah shleimah for gavriella bas sarah and all others injured in this tragedy.

Sort-of corrective to a fact at the end of this post– the Reconstruction-era Arkansas congressman (a “carpetbagging” Republican originally from Minnesota who was killed in a drunken rage by a member of the original KKK)and Rep. Ryan are not the only members of the House to be killed violently, though they might technically be the only to be termed assassinations.

There’s a broader list (I don’t have a hard link) on a Congressional website somewhere of sitting members of Congress who died of unnatural causes; it includes an early 20th century Congressman who was murdered under mysterious circumstances, as well as two pre-Civil-War members who died after losing duels. In both of the latter cases, the victor/killer was another politician (in one case, a fellow member of the House; in the other, the sitting Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court).

And of course, if you expand the criteria to sitting members of Congress being assassinated(and not just the House), then you’d include two very big names in American history (who were both mounting Presidential campaigns at the time of their deaths): Senators Huey P. Long and Robert F. Kennedy.

I think Marc’s reference to the right-wing attacks was fairly muted and to omit that reference would be incomplete reporting. The Sheriff referred to the poisonous political atmosphere and the Post and Times both reported on the fact that Sarah Palin “targeted” Rep. Giffords, tweeting “don’t retreat, re-load”.
In the past, partisans said a President or a law were “bad”. Now, the right tries to de-legitimize Pres. Obama; and says the Health Care law -supported by Rep. Giffords- is unconstitutional.

Lucidity says:

According to an AP report: “Mistrust of government was Loughner’s defining conviction, the friends said.” Is that not also the defining conviction of the tea party movement?

HollyMartins says:

Who said the following?

“They Bring a Knife…We Bring a Gun”
“Get in their Faces!”
“I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!”
……“Hit Back Twice As Hard”
“We talk to these folks… so I know whose ass to kick.“
“Their victory would mean “hand to hand combat.”
“It’s time to Fight for it.”
“Punish your enemies.”
“I’m itching for a fight.”


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Jewish Congresswoman Shot, May Survive

Would be first rep. killed in America since Reconstruction

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