On Saturday, Nov. 25, near the University of Vermont, three college students were attacked by a gunman, leading to four shots fired. While they escaped, one suffered severe injuries. Police are investigating. The men, conversing in English and Arabic and two wearing kaffiyeh headdresses, are of Palestinian descent, prompting investigators to consider a hate crime.
Forty-eight year old Jason Eaton was arrested by authorities in response to the Burlington, Vt. shooting. His apprehension followed a search of his residence, where the attack occurred.
Mayor Miro Weinberger and Police Chief Jon Murad suggest that hate motivated the crime. While the victims' names have not been officially released by the police, their families identified them as Kinnan Abdalhamid, Tahseen Ahmed, and Hisham Awartani.
Abdalhamid attends Haverford College, Ahmed studies at Trinity College, and Awartani is enrolled at Brown University.
They were headed to Awartani’s grandmother’s house for dinner, sharing a picture with their parents before leaving. Awartani, expected to survive, suffered a spinal cord injury causing lower body sensation loss. Abdalhamid sustained minor injuries, while Ahmed was shot in the chest.
While the investigation is ongoing, the gravity of the crime remains a contentious issue as the families seek justice for their sons. However, these young men are not the sole victims of global prejudices.
Earlier in November in Los Angeles, during a peaceful advertising event in support of Palestine with around 75 protesters and patrols in the vicinity, a violent incident occurred. Among the attendees was 69-year-old pro-Israel demonstrator Paul Kessler. During the event, he was struck by Loay Alnaji, a computer science professor at Ventura County Community College.
Kessler fell to the ground, hitting his head and succumbing to brain hemorrhaging. Amidst multiple, intricate witness accounts, the LA police reconstructed the sequence of events and apprehended Alnaji, charging him with involuntary manslaughter. This ongoing investigation is also exploring the possibility of another hate crime. After Alnaji’s arrest, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles expressed gratitude to law enforcement for their swift response, emphasizing that “violence against our Jewish community will not be tolerated.”
A consistent zero-tolerance approach toward religious and ideological hatred should be upheld nationwide, echoing FBI Director Christopher Wray’s warning about the anticipated surge in hate crimes. Of all religious-based hate crimes, Jews are the victims in 60% of cases, highlighting an alarming trend.
Wray cautions against the potential for extremists to find inspiration from groups like Hamas, heightening terror threats to Americans. His warnings unfortunately align with a growing apprehension among Americans in the face of escalating hate crimes.
Instead of unity during global turmoil, our nation gravitates toward chaotic and radical mentalities, protesting and rioting over issues that seem detached. Despite the world's conflicts, our nation faces internal disarray on our home soil, while the focus on brutality persists from terrorist attacks and gunfire in the Middle East.
With limited context on the Israel-Hamas conflict, Americans are swiftly forming conclusions about individuals, including their own neighbors, colleagues and classmates. Our nation has grappled with similar disputes in the past, yet we often fail to learn from these experiences. To heal our country, we must cultivate trust, love, and a commitment to serving one another if we aim to bring about meaningful change within our nation.