Communities across the Diaspora held memorial services on Tuesday as Jews worldwide grapple with the murders of the three kidnapped teens, Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah, whose bodies were found Monday evening.
Impromptu gatherings have already been held at the Israeli Consulate in New York and at the Manhattan Jewish Community Center, and further gatherings are scheduled in other cities in the US and around the world.
New York Mayor Bill De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted their shock and outrage on Monday, joining their voices with those of their Jewish constituents.
Bruce Blakeman, who is running to fill a congressional seat in New York’s 4th district, said “while others merely respond to this savage act of brutality by simply ‘condemning’ this violence against innocent, unarmed civilians – including one with United States citizenship – mere words are not enough.
It’s regrettable that President [Barack] Obama lacked the leadership to say anything or even acknowledge this tragic situation as it unfolded or during his Rose Garden press conference this afternoon.
“There cannot be any peace with terrorists who commit such heinous crimes,” he said. “Hamas and its followers are merchants of death and must be treated accordingly. Anyone who thinks otherwise is naïve. This administration’s international policy, which has not accepted this simple fact, has failed.”
Larry Gordon, the editor of the Nassau County-based Five Towns Jewish Times said that “everybody is shocked” and that many of his readers were disappointed in what he termed the lack of an immediate and “decisive” response by Jerusalem.
In Beverly Hills, the Israeli Consulate, together with the Beth Jacob Synagogue, the Jewish Federation and Gilad Shaer’s aunt Lihi, held a memorial service on Tuesday night.
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies, together with Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein and the local Zionist Federation, will be holding memorials around the country, the groups announced Tuesday morning.
While Jewish groups across the board mourned the deaths of the students, the takeaway from recent events differed among organizations.
“Violence and hatred do not solve problems; they only worsens them, and we must not let the deaths of these young men be in vain,” said the National Council of Jewish Women.
“If there is anything to take away from this moment, it should be that all human lives are sacred.”
Other organizations took a more hard-line approach in the wake of the murders, calling for the United States and Europe to cut ties with the Palestinians and blaming Ramallah for creating an atmosphere of hate that they said incites violence.
“The kidnapping and subsequent murders are the direct product of the constant and relentless incitement taught by the Palestinians,” B’nai B’rith International asserted.
“For many decades, generations of Palestinians have been raised on a diet of hate, which feeds the terror targeting Israel. The twin evils of incitement and terrorism have once again shown Israel does not have a credible partner for peace,” the organization said, adding “it is the duty of the Palestinians to surrender the murderers to Israel.”
StandWithUS, a pro-Israel advocacy organization, said that the murders indicate that “terrorists continue to act with impunity under Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.”
It blamed Palestinian propaganda and “hate education” for the murders, stating that such “institutionalized incitement against Jews and Israel permeates education, the media, mosques and other social institutions, directed and supported by the Palestinian leadership.
“International pressure must be placed on the PA to stop the ongoing incitement to bigotry, hatred and violence,” the group demanded.
The World Jewish Congress urged Jewish institutions globally to hold memorial services and events and for schools to hold special classes to explain the murders to their students.
The European Jewish Congress demanded that the European Union “immediately cease all support, funding and political contact of and with the new government of the PA.
Michael Schudrich, Poland’s chief rabbi, says in his country there is “an additional responsibility to remember, mourn and warn the world concerning the execution of Jews. We have lost too many Jews to hatred.”
“Enough,” he declared, stating that “no person with any sense of morality can permit the world to return to normal until the world will not accept the murder of Jews as normal.”
The Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America also called to punish the terrorists responsible for the murders, saying “the world needs to recognize, as it often fails to do, the nature of the enemies that are arrayed against Israel and the level of inhumanity of which they are capable.
“We join in the call for swift and resolute punishment for the perpetrators of this atrocity,” they said.
The Zionist Organization of America called for financial sanctions against the PA, and its president, Morton Klein, condemned Abbas for criticizing Israel’s crackdown on Hamas and the door-to-door searches carried to find the teens.