Jewish orgs stress Holocaust commemoration in condemning Jerusalem attack

Multiple groups noted that the attack took place at the end of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Jewish organizations expressed their outrage following the attack near a synagogue in Jerusalem on Friday night, tying it to that day’s observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The shooting outside a synagogue in Neve Yaakov, a Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem, killed seven civilians and was the deadliest terror attack in the city since 2008. The victims ranged from a 14-year-old boy to a married couple to a gabbai, or sexton, of another synagogue who was on his way to a Torah class. 

The attack came one day after an Israel Defense Forces operation in the West Bank city of Jenin, targeting an Islamic Jihad cell, killed seven militants and two civilians. Islamic Jihad responded by firing rockets at Israel, and Israel responded with airstrikes. On Saturday, a 13-year-old Palestinian shot and injured two Israelis, a father and son, near Jerusalem’s Old City. On Saturday night, a guard at the Israeli West Bank settlement of Kedumim killed an armed Palestinian who was approaching the settlement with a gun. 

The leadership of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called the Friday night attack “heinous,” as did the American Jewish Committee. 

“Our hearts are heavy with grief,” the Conference of Presidents statement said. “This act of terrorism, particularly egregious on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is a stark reminder that the threat of violence and hatred towards Jewish communities remains all too real.”

The Jewish Federations of North America said in its statement that “78 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, on the day the world commemorates the atrocity of the Holocaust, it is unbearable that Jews are still being murdered simply for being Jews.”

In his statement, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said, “These casualties of these appalling crimes included elderly people, married couples and innocent passersby. As we continue to witness the intentional escalation of violence and terror in Israel, ADL remains committed to the security of the Jewish state, fighting hate and extremism in all forms, and working for a future of peace.”

In a meeting on Saturday, Israel’s Security Cabinet announced it would “strengthen settlements” following the attacks, though it did not provide further details. Israel will also move to make it easier for citizens to obtain guns and is considering measures to punish terrorists’ family members who support their actions. In addition, Israeli security forces sealed off the homes of the perpetrators of the Friday night and Saturday attacks in Jerusalem. 

The escalating violence came just before a visit by Secretary of State Tony Blinken in Israel and the West Bank, and following a visit by CIA Director Bill Burns. Blinken tweeted that his visit to the region, which began in Egypt, aims to “deepen bilateral relationships and people-to-people ties, promote human rights, and strengthen regional and global security.”

In his statement condemning the Friday night attack, Blinken also referenced the day’s commemoration of the Holocaust. 

“Our thoughts are with the Israeli people following the terrorist attack in Jerusalem,” he wrote. “It is particularly tragic on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We condemn this attack and express our condolences to the victims’ families. May their memory be a blessing.”