Arizona Congreswoman May Have Been Targeted for Being Jewish

10 January 2011

The US Department of Homeland Security has listed Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords' Jewish faith as being a possible factor in her shooting.

An department memo says that her assailant, Jared Lee Loughner, mentioned American Renaissance, an extremist anti-immigrant group, in some of his own postings. "The group's ideology is anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti-Semitic," says the memo sent to law enforcement, which also notes that Giffords, a Democrat, was the first Jewish congresswoman from Arizona. Loughner was arrested after Giffords and at least 16 others were shot Saturday at a meet-your-lawmaker event at a Tucson shopping mall. Six people were killed, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge, John Roll.

Giffords, a Democrat in her third term, remains in critical condition after being shot in the head. Loughner, who is being held by the FBI and has been described by authorities as "unstable," reportedly listed "Mein Kampf" and the "Communist Manifesto" as two of his favorite books on his MySpace page.

Giffords was elected to Congress in 2006 and had made her Jewish identity part of her campaign. “If you want something done, your best bet is to ask a Jewish woman to do it,” Giffords, a former state senator, said at the time. “Jewish women -- by our tradition and by the way we were raised -- have an ability to cut through all the reasons why something should, shouldn’t or can’t be done, and pull people together to be successful.”

The National Jewish Democratic Council suggested that the heated rhetoric of the last year contributed to the climate that led to the attack. "One suspect, now in custody, may be directly responsible for this crime," the group said in a statement. "But it is fair to say -- in today's political climate, and given today's political rhetoric -- that many have contributed to the building levels of vitriol in our political discourse that have surely contributed to the atmosphere in which this event transpired."

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