It was a typical sweltering Phoenix afternoon when my husband entered our apartment on August 11th. He’d just heard a breaking news story on the car radio that he needed to share with me.
“There’s a sniper on top of the Holiday Inn in downtown Wichita and he’s shot several people.”
|Skyline of downtown Wichita with the Holiday Inn in the center|
I was horrified. Not so much by the news but by the fact that my husband was telling me about it without even knowing if my father was okay.
“I’m sure he’s fine,” my husband tried to reassure me. “The Holiday Inn is four or five blocks from your father’s store.”
“But you don’t know if he went to the bank nearby or somewhere else.” I wasn’t interested in being reassured. “Besides what about everyone else we know in Wichita.”
“So let’s call your parents,” my husband suggested.
He’d been right. My father was okay. Yes, it was a terrible tragedy with four dead but everyone they knew was okay. My parents cut the conversation short and said we’d talk more on Sunday. For in 1976 long distance communication was usually letters, occasionally telegrams, and telephone calls only when the rates were low.
Now we share news from halfway around the world in just a matter of seconds and a tap of the finger. The winter storm we had last week didn’t affect our electricity so we were able to learn of the terror attack in the kosher Paris supermarket as soon as the Parisians did. Unfortunately, though, the tragedy was still ongoing when we lit candles ushering in Shabbat. So when I met several of my neighbors, originally from France, in the synagogue Shabbat their expressions were understandingly grim.
“Are all your families okay?” I asked.
“My mother never shops there,” one answered.
One only sighed. She’d spoken to some of her family, but there are so many people in Paris she knows.
The third shook her head. “I don’t have any family left in France but…”
That but spoke volumes. But there are still people I know. But there are still relatives of those I care about. But we are still all one family. They would have to wait until after Shabbat to learn the whole sorry details.
As I looked at their faces I remembered my feelings on that scorching hot afternoon over thirty-eight years ago. However, there’s a major difference between the two attacks. Michael Soles, the nineteen-year-old sniper, was emotionally disturbed. The Muslim terrorists in the supermarket were going on their rampage for religious reasons.
There are a number of articles circulating cyberspace cautioning against Islamophobia and citing that most Muslims want to live peacefully. A case in point is the story of the brave Muslim employee at the supermarket who saved a number of would-be victims by hiding them in the walk-in freezer. I wonder, though, if I was the only one reading of his heroic act who cringed seeing that his name and picture are clearly posted. Is anyone else worried that his life in now in danger?
Because even if it is true that the majority of Muslims are non-violent and want to live in peace they are a very silent majority. And those who are violent and do not want to live in peace justify their terror with their religion. Just as the Christian crusaders once cried “Death to the Infidels!” as they murdered both Muslims and Jews now the militant Muslims cry “Allah Akbar!” as they murder Christians and, again, Jews.
When Michael Soles was arrested and incarcerated in Wichita years ago the good citizens of that city knew his evil was locked up. Although the terrorists from last week were eliminated the good citizens of Paris know that there are many more potential terrorists right around the corner, both in their city and others.
There are no easy solutions. However, I believe we have to recognize that HaShem, for whatever reason, has let forces of evil in the world. Even though it might not be politically correct to state this, whitewashing or ignoring them will not rid us of the evil. Israel is valiantly trying to fight the terror. They need and deserve the support of the world.