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American Jewish organizations condemn murder of Arab teen

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(JTA) — The murder of a Palestinian teenager allegedly by Jewish extremists has drawn widespread condemnations from across the ideological spectrum of the organized Jewish world.

Jewish groups ranging from the Union for Reform Judaism to the haredi Orthodox Agudath Israel, and including erstwhile rivals J Street and AIPAC, all issued strongly worded statements forcefully denouncing the July 2 murder of 16-year old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, apparently in retaliation to the murder of three Israeli teens.

Six suspects have been apprehended in Khdeir’s murder; three reportedly have confessed.

The Jewish groups urged the Israeli government to prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.

“We are appalled that this heinous crime was allegedly carried out in revenge for the kidnapping and murders of three innocent Jewish teens in Gush Etzion,” said the Modern Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America and the Orthodox Union in a joint statement condemning the murder issued Sunday. “The murder of innocents is antithetical to Jewish law and tradition and must always be opposed by men and women of decency and morality.”

The murder was condemned as well by the umbrella groups that represent a broad spectrum of Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Federations of North America, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the American Jewish Committee,  the Jewish Labor Committee, and the Anti-Defamation League.

“We learned with anguish and sorrow that the investigation by Israeli authorities appears to have determined that the perpetrators of the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir are Israeli citizens,” said the chairman and vice-chairman of the Presidents Conference in a joint statement issued Saturday. “There is no justification for such a heinous attack by self-styled vigilantes.”

While the statements were universally condemnatory, at least one organization did attempt to draw distinctions between the Israeli and Palestinian responses to the murders.

“While Israel condemned the murder and is taking steps to ensure that those responsible will be  punished accordingly, it is troubling that the Palestinian Authority has historically named streets after murderers and glorified their terrorist acts, while Hamas celebrates violence and martyrdom,” said the National Council for Young Israel in a statement on Sunday. “The difference between Israel’s reaction to a senseless murder and that of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is particularly striking.”

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