World Jewry mourns deaths of kidnapped teens

Diaspora Jewish groups respond to tragic news about yeshiva students; World Jewish Congress calls for defunding of PA.

Missing yeshiva students (left to right)Naphtali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Missing yeshiva students (left to right)Naphtali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jewish organizations across the globe were quick to condemn Hamas and the Palestinian Authority Monday evening for the murders of kidnapped yeshiva students Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, who, according to the Israeli government, were abducted by Hamas terrorists.
The reactions by Diaspora Jewish groups betrayed raw emotion and mounting anger against the Palestinian Authority. The PA recently entered into a unity government with Hamas, which Israel and the United States have designated a terrorist entity.
World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder called upon PA President Mahmoud Abbas to immediately remove anyone with links to Hamas from his government and to “fight terrorism vigorously and urgently,” while also pressing for both the US and European Union to cease funding the PA.
“This murder must spur the world into action, and the fight against fanatic, extremist groups such as Hamas must be stepped up urgently,” Lauder said.
The American Jewish Committee noted in a statement that “the kidnapping and murders took place shortly after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas established a unity government with Hamas.” It also cited the more than 25 rockets that had been fired from Gaza into Israeli territory in recent days.
“We can only hope that all people of goodwill will stand together in unambiguous, immediate condemnation of this murder and give further thought to a Palestinian government that includes Hamas as one of its two pillars,” said AJC executive director David Harris.
Agudath Israel of America, which represents the ultra-Orthodox community, called the murders a crime not only against Israel or Jews alone, but “against humanity.”
Stating that the attack “bespeaks the deepest and most revolting inhumanity imaginable,” Agudath Israel asserted that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority were both responsible for the teens’ deaths.
“The hatred and incitement that have characterized so much of the campaign to establish a new Arab state alongside Israel are what have yielded these young, lifeless bodies and all the death and destruction born of Arab terrorism over the years,” it said in a statement. “There are those who believe that all people are, deep down, good. Hamas and its friends, along with other terrorist groups and rogue nations like Iran, give the lie to that lovely but naïve fantasy.”
The ultra-Orthodox body expressed hope that now the nations of the free world will “confront that fact and comprehend its implications.”
Michael Siegel, of the Jewish Federations of North America, called it “simply unimaginable” that someone could “commit such a heinous and despicable act.”
“As Jews, as mothers and fathers, as sons and daughters, and simply as people, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Eyal, Naftali and Gil-Ad at this time,” Siegel 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.”
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called for those “responsible for this heinous and barbaric crime and those who aid and abet them, support them and inspire them” to be brought to “swift justice” and “punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
“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,” the body considered the umbrella organization for American Jewry said in a statement. “It cannot be met by indifference or pro-forma expressions of sympathy.
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.”
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, called on Abbas to “follow through on his condemnation of the kidnapping by doing everything within his power to ensure that such acts of terrorism do not happen again.”
The governments that have thus far condemned the murders,” Schonfeld said, “must now help ensure that the perpetrators of this outrageous crime are brought to justice and that the physical security of Israeli citizens is assured in all considerations.”