An August shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh temple claimed six lives, but it also has created new bridges between the Sikh and Jewish communities in Washington DC. Rabbis joined with Sikh community leaders for a joint candlelight vigil earlier this month, and Jewish organizations have held vigils and forged new bonds with local Sikh communities. What’s more, Jewish political leaders are now collaborating with their Sikh counterparts to dispel prejudices and to educate the public about two minority religions in the US that have a shared history of oppression but also perseverance.
The U.S. and Israel have both been shaken by violent attacks coming from a direction they hadn’t been watching: racist, right-wingers. The similarities are instructive. So are the differences.
New York City’s mayor Michael Bloomberg has spoken out against US gun laws at the Sikh Cultural Society in Queens, New York, in the aftermath of Sunday’s mass shooting in Wisconsin, which saw six worshipers killed, along with the gunman. Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg “Just two weeks after the tragedy in Aurora we’ve seen another mass shooting, one in which it appears there were some warning signs about the shooter, and still the two presidential candidates have not given the American public a plan to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.” Wisconsin authorities have said they believe the gunman to be a 40-year-old man, Ward Michael Page, who served six years in the US army before being kicked out in 1998 following a ‘pattern of misconduct’. He is reported to have links to far-right groups, and has been known to the Anti-Defamation League for several years, in particular for his leadership of white power group End Apathy. The gun used to carry out the attacks was a legally purchased 9mm handgun. The shooting is now being considered a race-hate crime, for Sikhs, the latest in a string of attacks on their community. President of Sikh culture society Gurdev Singh Kang “I think there was hate crime because of looks, our identity. They targeting our identity.” Nephew of shooting victim “If we’re going to be a melting pot in America, we need to melt. To think that I am dangerous because I am Muslim, I think, is ignorant. It’s over generalizing these incidents …
UPDATE: JFNA defends reference to Homeland Security grant program