U.S. Jews React to Murders With Fury, Calls for Peace

Conference of Presidents: Inverting roles of victims, perpetrators must stop; New Israel Fund: We owe it to boys' memories to bring peace to Israelis, Palestinians.

Olivier Fitoussi

Mainstream American Jewish organizations reacted with grief and fury to the murders of kidnapped Israeli teenagers Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, while their liberal counterparts responded with grief and calls for peace.

"It is time that the world stand in unity against those who advocate and execute, as well as justify, the murder of innocent young people who are brutally butchered in Israel or anywhere," said Robert G. Sugarman, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in a statement.

"It cannot be met by indifference or pro-forma expressions of sympathy," they said. "For too long the threats against Israel, including missiles and terrorism, have elicited limited responses, with the roles of victims and perpetrators inverted. It must stop."

The New Israel Fund issued a statement saying: "We join with their families and with everyone mourning these three young men. And we ask that every leader, Israeli and Palestinian, take every step necessary to maintain calm and prevent more loss of life. We owe it to the memories of these young men, and to the countless others who have died in this conflict, to do all we can to bring peace and reconciliation and an end to the bloodshed between our two peoples."

Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, said, "We extend our sincerest condolences to the Yifrach, Shaar and Fraenkel families. We take this opportunity to affirm our solidarity with the State of Israel at this difficult time and to condemn all those who engage in and support terrorism. We reiterate our support for Israel’s right to self-defense."

American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris said, “We share the anguish of the parents and families of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal, and of the entire Israeli nation. Cowardly terrorists chose three Jewish youths, innocently hitchhiking to return home for Shabbat, to seize and mercilessly kill.”

Lauder: 'Hamas reveals true colors'

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said, “Once again, Hamas has revealed its true colors: This group blatantly disregards human life, and it doesn’t even refrain from hijacking innocent teenagers. Those who committed this heinous crime must be hunted down and brought to justice."

Michael Siegal, chair of the Jewish Federations Board of Trustees, said, "There is no reason – none – why a tragedy like this should have occurred. The Jewish Federations stand alongside our brothers and sisters across the world and in Israel in condemnation of this senseless murder, and we pray that those responsible are swiftly brought to justice.”

J Street said it "mourns Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, whose murdered bodies were recovered today in the West Bank. We condemn these brutal killings and express hope that those who carried them out will be brought quickly to justice.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the three boys and with the people of Israel at this moment of profound sadness," J Street continued. "Tonight, we join them in the mourners’ call that 'He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel.'”

Meanwhile, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in a statement, "The hearts of our entire people are broken with the discovery of the murdered bodies of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach." He added, "The callous slaughter of these three innocent teens sends shudders through the conscience of all feeling people."

AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, also released a statement, saying that it "stands with the people of Israel at this moment of sorrow and loss. We express our deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the innocent teenage boys who were murdered by terrorists with no respect for human life. Americans and Israelis understand that terrorist barbarism cannot be tolerated. We have once again witnessed that Hamas is an enemy of peace, reconciliation and fundamental human decency. For the sake of peace, all people of goodwill should distance themselves from this terrorist body. Israel is not alone at this terrible time of mourning."