Netanyahu, Jewish leaders send condolences to families of Kansas victims

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent condolences to the families of the three people killed by a gunman at two Jewish facilities in suburban Kansas City, Kan.

“We condemn the murder that by all the signs was done out of hatred of Jews,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued Monday morning, the day after the shootings. “The state of Israel, as one with all civilized people, is obligated to struggle against this blight.”

The victims were killed in shootings at the JCC of Greater Kansas City and the Village Shalom assisted-living facility in Overland Park, Kan.  The JCC victims were a grandfather and his 14-year-old grandson.

The suspected shooter, who is in custody, has been identified as a white supremacist.

The Anti-Defamation League in a statement issued late Sunday called the shootings “an unspeakable and heinous act of violence.”

Authorities have not yet determined whether the attacks are a hate crime. The ADL said in its statement that it is working with local, federal and state law enforcement officials as the investigation continues.

“The attacks on the Jewish community centers in Overland Park are a cowardly, unspeakable and heinous act of violence,” Karen Aroesty, ADL’s St. Louis regional director, said in a statement. “While it is too early to label these shootings as a hate crime, the fact that two Jewish institutions were targeted by the same individual just prior to the start of the Passover holiday is deeply troubling and certainly gives us pause.”

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said his organization “join(s) in solidarity with the entire Kansas City area community, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in expressing shock, sadness and dismay. We can’t help but note that this attack comes on the eve of Passover, a celebration of Jewish freedom from oppression and violence.”

The European Jewish Congress warned in a statement issued early Monday that the shootings in Kansas “demonstrates that neo-Nazis and anti-Semites are becoming emboldened” and called on the international community to work together to fight against hate and anti-Semitism.

“We stand with our brothers and sisters in the U.S. at this difficult time and stand ready to assist in fighting this scourge together because hate knows no boundaries, especially in the age of the Internet,” EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor said in the statement.

Kantor called for the creation of an international task force “that will fight hate through educational, legislative and punitive platforms on a worldwide scale.”

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