In the wake of the tragic shooting in San Bernardino, literally thousands of articles have emerged about one of the victims, Nicholas Thalasinos. Those reports have identified Thalasinos as a Messianic Jew. They also say that he got into heated discussions about the nature of Islam with co-worker Syed Farook, who authorities say carried out the attack along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik.
New York Daily News columnist Linda Stasi is now saying that Thalasinos shares the blame for the attack because of strongly-worded posts on his Facebook page.
In a balanced and informative article today, Jewish Telegraphic Agency [JTA] writer Uriel Heilman noted that Thalasinos was actually a “Gentile supporter of Israel.” He noted that “Thalasinos apparently identified as a messianic Jew, but not as Jewish.” As recently as September, Thalasinos wrote to a friend, “As a gentile who loves HaShem, I know my place is to support Israel and the Jewish people.”
We mourn the death of all fourteen victims. As to Stasi’s charges, we think this is a time for empathy and prayer, not accusations. As one commentator noted, “Speech is speech and bullets are bullets.”
In his otherwise accurate piece for JTA, Heilman had written, “One of the best-known messianic missionary groups, Jews for Jesus, actually is comprised in large part by Christians.” Our spokesperson, Susan Perlman, responded to Heilman, stating, in part, “Those who call themselves Jews for Jesus, whether on our staff (we employ about 250 people worldwide) or those who identify with us, are Jewish and at some point decided to follow Jesus as the Messiah of Israel. So your phrase ‘Jews for Jesus actually is comprised in large part by [Gentile] Christians,’ would give the impression that Jews for Jesus are not Jews, which we would disagree with strongly. . . . I’d be happy to have a more in-depth discussion on the matter if you’d like.”
Although Heilman declined Susan’s invitation for further discussion, he did delete the line about Jews for Jesus.