It’s a ghastly scenario that has unfortunately played itself out all too many
times in the United States’ recent past.
A troubled lone gunman crosses
the invisible line where reason and judgment are no longer functioning and
unleashes his deadly barrage in a public forum, leaving a bloody massacre of
innocent victims in his wake.
This time, however, the visceral impact was
even more thunderous – due to the ages of most of the victims. On Friday
morning, in the small Connecticut town of Newtown – ranked the fifth-safest city
in America by the website NeighborhoodScout.com based on 2011 crime
statistics – an attacker identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire inside
Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 26 people, 20 of them students between the
ages of five and 10.
As the details began to unfold of the cold-blooded
assassination of so many helpless children, Americans and people the world over
were stunned and overwhelmed with grief.
Tearing up and repeatedly
pausing to regain his composure, President Barack Obama addressed the nation on
Saturday, verbalizing what so many people were experiencing, “The majority of
those who died today were children – beautiful little kids between the ages of 5
and 10 years old.
They had their entire lives ahead of them – birthdays,
graduations, weddings, kids of their own.... Among the fallen were also teachers
– men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their
Leaders in Israel, no strangers to terror-related tragedies
ending in equally horrific results, were quick to respond.
Shimon Peres spoke for the Israeli people when he wrote in a letter to Obama,
“We stand with you today in contemplation and grief over the atrocious,
incomprehensible massacre of 20 children and six adults – educators – at Sandy
Hook Elementary School. No experience with death can be likened to that of a
parent’s loss of their child. No crime is more heinous than the killing of a
In his letter to Obama, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wrote
that he was “shocked and horrified” by the savage massacre.
“We in Israel
have experienced such cruel acts of slaughter and we know the shock and agony
Whether such murderous acts are carried out in the name of
some warped ideology – as they often are in Israel – or simply the action of a
very disturbed young man, as the Newtown massacre appears to be, the grief is
the same for the victims’ families and for the rest of the civilized
The motive for the homicidal outburst remains unclear, but what
has been revealed about Lanza is that he was a troubled young man, who according
to his brother Ryan suffered from a personality disorder, augmented either by
autism or Asperger’s syndrome. He also lived in a home that was filled with
His mother Nancy was reportedly an avid gun collector and,
according to one neighbor, would often go target-shooting with her children.
Ironically, police reports indicate that she was her son’s first victim before
he headed to the school to carry out his unholy mission.
security considerations necessitate the prevalence of guns in Israeli society,
there are stringent procedures in place that screen who is able to own a gun for
his or her private use. Whether such measures have contributed to the relatively
rare occurrences of “lone gunman” incidents here, invoking tougher measures in
obtaining firearms in the US is an issue that will undoubtedly be debated
fiercely in the wake of Newtown.
President Obama hinted as much that it
might be time to take on the powerful National Rifle Association lobby when he
said in his remarks that “we’re going to have to come together and take
meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the
But that can only happen after the shock of the loss of the
angelic children, representing the future of the human race, and of the slain
adults – like first grade teacher Victoria Soto, who shielded her students from
Lanza and was gunned down in the process – begins to dissipate.
concluded his statements by saying that “this evening, Michelle and I will do
what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little
tighter and we’ll tell them that we love them, and we’ll remind each other how
deeply we love one another.”
There were many parents in Israel who did
the same thing.