A Growing Gulf Between Muslims and Jews in Seattle

August 23, 2006

Source: The Seattle Times


On August 23, 2006 The Seattle Times reported, "In the days immediately following the recent shootings at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, there was much talk of interfaith unity. Local Muslim leaders condemned the acts of a man who barged into the federation offices and, according to witnesses, announced himself as a Muslim American angry at Israel before shooting six people, killing one. Local Jewish leaders spoke of the sympathy they received from Muslim friends. Jews, Muslims and Christians attended the funeral of Pamela Waechter, the woman killed. But some of those same leaders acknowledge that the gulf between the local Jewish and Muslim communities remains as wide as ever. And recent events — from the federation shootings, to the conflict in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah, to the foiled terrorist plot in London, to Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic comments during a drunken-driving arrest — have heightened sensitivities on both sides. Rick Harkavy, a local Jewish leader, and Jeff Siddiqui, a local Muslim leader, have both been involved in interfaith talks. But such efforts involve only a small number of people. 'Both communities keep their distance from each other,' Harkavy said. 'But once you do that, you start relying on half-truths, stereotypes. That's the problem.' 'In general, relations between local Jews and Muslims are "live and let live,"' Siddiqui said. 'And we disagree around the big gorilla [of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict].'"