WASHINGTON (JTA) — In the wake of the murder of a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy in a Chicago suburb, Jewish groups across the religious spectrum are pleading with Americans to not allow anti-Muslim hate to spread because of Israel’s war with Hamas.
Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist umbrella bodies have joined a statement spearheaded by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, a national public policy group, and two Orthodox groups have released their own statements.
“This is a moment of deep Jewish pain, mourning the lives taken and praying for the safe release of the hostages in Gaza – and this pain and fear is compounded by a horrific rise in antisemitism here in the United States and around the globe,” said the JCPA statement, which in addition to the religious movements was also signed by the American Jewish Committee, J Street, Hadassah and the National Council of Jewish Women, among other groups.
“We also know that we are not the only ones being targeted in this moment,” it said. “Our Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian American neighbors are facing bigotry, threats, and violence – including the despicable murder of a six-year-old child this weekend outside Chicago, by a man who reportedly espoused anti-Muslim hate.”
The Anti-Defamation League separately condemned the attack and two Orthodox groups, Agudath Israel of America and the Orthodox Union, put out statements expressing horror at the crime.
“Agudath Israel condemns this heinous crime and sends its sincere condolences to the bereaved family members and their entire community,” it said in a statement.
The Orthodox Union said in a statement that “we reject anti-Muslim bigotry along with all forms of hate against individuals based on their faith and absolutely reject revenge attacks against innocent Muslims and Arab Americans in this country or anywhere.”
Police on Saturday charged Joseph Czuba, 71, with stabbing the boy, Wadea Al-Fayoum, to death, and seriously injuring the boy’s mother, in Plainfield, Illinois. Police said Czuba was motivated by anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bias. Reports quoted Czuba’s wife as saying he was moved to rage by conservative media coverage of Israel’s war with Hamas.
The killing has spurred fears of an increase in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim violence, including expressions of concern by President Joe Biden and J.B. Pritzker, Illinois’s Jewish governor. A group of Chicago area rabbis attended Al-Fayoum’s funeral.
Also signing the JCPA statement were an array of local Jewish Community Relations Councils, which often work with local Muslim and Arab groups.