Internationals, national and Valley Jewish leaders are condemning attacks on two New Zealand mosques today that killed 49 people and wounded dozens, including children.
The attacks took place in the city of Christchurch at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque during Friday morning prayers. JNS reports that police said four people have been taken into custody. One man taken into custody is reported to be from Australia and in his late 20s. He has been charged with murder.
According to JNS, the gunman reportedly posted a white-nationalist manifesto on social media prior to the attack.
The response from international, national and local Jewish organizations came swiftly.
"To our Muslim Brothers and Sisters — we see you. We grieve with you. We YELL out with you in in condemning anti-Muslim hatred and violence,” said Rabbi Jeremy Schneider of Temple Kol Ami and immediate past president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix. “May the memories of those lives lost be for a blessing."
Carlos Galindo-Elvira, regional director of ADL Arizona said, “Our hearts break for our Muslim brothers and sisters. Places of worship should be sanctuaries of peace. We extend our condolences to our local Muslim community.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix condemned the lethal attacks at the New Zealand mosques, calling them “an absolute affront to humanity … We stand in support and solidarity with the Muslim community of Phoenix and the Muslim community worldwide in this dark hour. We will continue to fight against hate and Islamophobia, and together we will confront all forms of racism that plague humanity.”
Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman of Congregation Kehillah and secretary of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix provided the official statement from the board: “We are sickened and appalled by the heinous hate crime against the Muslim community in Christchurch, New Zealand during their Jum’ah prayer services. The Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in their right to worship and live free of fear and oppression based on their religious affiliation.”
Internationally, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said, “We must redouble efforts to combat hatred and division in our societies, from wherever it emanates.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted, “Israel mourns the wanton murder of innocent worshippers in Christchurch and condemns the brazen act of terror in New Zealand. Israel sends its condolences to the bereaved families and its heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded.”
Nationally, American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris said his organization was “appalled by the murderous assaults.”
“Racist individuals imbued with pure hatred of Muslims have attacked normally peaceful New Zealand,” he added. “We say as loudly as we can: We stand against hate and xenophobia. We stand against racism. We stand against terrorism. We stand for mutual understanding. We stand for mutual respect. We stand for pluralism. We stand for coexistence and outreach.”
According to AJC, parts of the attacks were broadcast live on social media, and a manifesto railing against Muslims and immigrants also was issued.
Zionist Organization of America’s national President Morton A. Klein and Chairman Mark Levenson issued a joint statement:
“The vicious terrorists who perpetrated this monstrous act are nothing less than evil scum.
“The Jewish community is especially sensitive to such horrible religious hate crimes and murders since almost 60 percent of all religious hate crimes in America are committed against Jews.”
In a press release, national Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt stated, “As has become a pattern with white supremacist violence, the shooter not only meticulously planned the attack, but also designed it for social media, even live streaming it on Facebook. The fact that his video is still accessible on several social media websites is a reminder that these platforms need to do more to stem the flow of hateful messages and memes on their platforms, especially white supremacist memes targeting Muslims, Jews and other minorities.”
Greenblatt added that the ADL will be provide its community security resources to mosques and Muslim community leaders across the country through its 25 regional offices.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, stated, “We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters of good faith throughout the world against senseless hatred and bigotry, and the despicable violence they breed. We condemn, in the strongest terms, the horrific murder of innocent people, and the added abhorrence of violence in houses of prayer.”
Various news outlets are reporting that Shabbat services across New Zealand were canceled as an act of solidarity with that country’s Muslim community and also because police could not guaranty security at synagogues.