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JACL Denounces Hate-Motivated Murder of Six-Year-Old Palestinian American Child

Over this past weekend, a Palestinian American family in Chicago was brutally attacked in their home by their landlord. Six-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume was tragically killed, and his mother remains in critical condition recovering in the hospital. The police arrested the landlord and were joined by the Department of Justice in investigating the assault as a hate crime.

The attack came in response to the ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hamas, which is putting millions of innocent civilians in harm’s way. In the days since Hamas’ invasion of Israel and Israel’s counterattack, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have observed an increase in threats of violence towards the Muslim and Arab American community and American Jewish communities. This is in addition to the already high levels of hate often directed at both groups.

The murderer was clearly motivated by extremist rhetoric and placing blame for the conflict upon Palestinian and Muslim people as a proxy for Hamas. Such extremist language, whether referring to the Palestinian people as animals or calling for the extinction of Israel as a nation, does nothing to further peace in the Middle East and enflames extremist hatred here in the United States. Extremist messaging has only ever served to subjugate and harm targeted communities, as seen with the dehumanization and equation with the enemy that led to the mass incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII.

As war rages in the Middle East, we are reminded that as Americans, while we may have connection and affinity to our ancestral countries, we cannot hold Jewish Americans responsible for Israel’s actions as a government, nor Palestinian Americans responsible for the actions of a terrorist organization based in Palestine.

We grieve for the thousands of innocent civilian lives lost in the Middle East, and especially for the loss of Wadea Al-Fayoume. We feel the pain of our friends from the Arab American, Palestinian American, and Jewish American communities. JACL remains committed to engaging in conversations about the challenges faced by our Arab American, Palestinian American, and Jewish communities, and ensuring that extremism and hate do not overtake those discussions.

As a nation, we cannot suffer any more losses like Wadea Al-Fayoume.


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