(JERUSALEM) -- Many in Israel are wishing Rep. Gabrielle Giffords a full and speedy recovery. A strong and vocal supporter of the state of Israel, Giffords promised to stand by the nation's security needs and called on Arab leaders to recognize Israel's right to exist.
She first traveled to Israel in 2001 and later wrote about what a profound effect the trip had on her own sense of Jewish identity. Giffords is also known in Israel for legislation she introduced to help holocaust survivors in Arizona when she was a state senator. That law eliminated the statute of limitations for collecting insurance claims by victims of the holocaust and their heirs.
Giffords identifies as Jewish and talked about it in her congressional campaign back in 2006. Her father's family were Jews from Lithuania; her great-grandfather was a rabbi. It was her grandfather, Akiba Hornstein, who changed the family name to Giffords to avoid anti-Semitism in the 1940s. With reports that Giffords' shooter named Adolf Hitler's hateful manifesto against the Jews, "Mein Kampf," as one of his favorite books, there is some concern in Israel that anti-Semitism may have played a role in Saturday's attack.
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