American Jewish groups offer broad support to Israel after assault from Gaza

After the early-morning infiltration attack, organizations from across the political spectrum release statements supporting the Jewish state and condemning Hamas

Gavriel Fiske is a reporter at The Times of Israel

Israeli rescue teams evacuate a wounded person near the southern city of Sderot on October 7, 2023, after the Palestinian terror group Hamas launched a large-scale surprise attack on Israel. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
Israeli rescue teams evacuate a wounded person near the southern city of Sderot on October 7, 2023, after the Palestinian terror group Hamas launched a large-scale surprise attack on Israel. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Soon after news broke in the United States of Saturday’s shocking early-morning multi-pronged assault by Hamas terrorists, American Jewish organizations began expressing their support for the Jewish state.

The unprecedented attack and subsequent news of the mass fatalities and abductions spurred bipartisan statements in support of Israel and condemnation of Hamas.

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched massive rocket barrages at southern and central Israel on Saturday morning, combined with an assault by hundreds of gunmen who infiltrated the border town of Sderot and other communities, taking over homes, gunning down families, and clashing with Israel Defense Force troops.

The attack started at around 6:30 a.m. as Jewish Israelis were celebrating the festival of Simhat Torah, with hundreds of rockets fired at Israel. It came a day after Israel and the Arab world marked the 50th anniversary of the surprise attack by Egypt and Syria that launched the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, said that he “vehemently denounces the heinous terrorist onslaught against the State of Israel.”

“Now, more than ever, it is imperative for us to stand as one – unified and resolute – to bolster the success of the IDF and the State of Israel during this conflict unjustly thrust upon us on Simhat Torah. Let it be known, unequivocally, that the entire Jewish diaspora stands in unwavering support of Israel and its valiant security forces during these challenging times,” he said in a statement.

Ronald Lauder attends the 47th International Emmy Awards gala at the Hilton New York, in New York, November 25, 2019. (Evan Agostini/ Invision/AP)

“At 6:30 a.m. this morning, on a Jewish holiday, Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists from Gaza launched a surprise attack and infiltrated Israel with one goal: to murder Israelis. The world awoke to horrific images of brutal violence from Hamas terrorists: indiscriminate shooting of Israeli civilians, videos of alleged kidnappings, and celebrations of death and destruction,” the American Jewish Committee (AJC) posted on its website.

“Hamas is an Iranian-backed terrorist organization. Like many terror groups across the Middle East, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and Houthi militants in Yemen, they are funded, trained, armed, and supported by the Iran regime. Today, they showcased their evil through a massive and coordinated attack against Israeli civilians,” the AJC said.

“Backed by Iran, Palestinian terrorists have launched an unprovoked invasion and large-scale attack on Israel. Israel has a right and responsibility to respond to today’s devastating assault and protect its citizens from terrorism. Please urge your members of Congress to speak out and make a clear and unequivocal statement in support for our ally Israel and its right to defend itself,” the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said on its website.

J Street said it was “shocked, outraged and horrified by the surprise, ongoing terrorist onslaught launched by Hamas against Israel today, on Shabbat and Simhat Torah/Shemini Atzeret.”

“J Street stands in solidarity with the Israeli people in this hour of terrible danger, fear and worry. We stand with the Israeli armed forces working furiously to repel this assault, protect Israelis and defeat the terrorist onslaught… Hamas’s murderous actions must be met with unequivocal condemnation from the entire international community. We hope for their swift and decisive defeat, and urge the US government to do everything possible to assist the State of Israel in confronting this threat, defending its citizens, and preventing a slide into even further conflagration and suffering for Israelis and Palestinians,” the group added.

Salvo of rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists from Gaza City toward Israel on October 7, 2023 (EYAD BABA / AFP)

In Washington, DC, Jewish Federation of Greater Washington CEO Gil Preuss said the organization was “horrified by the largest terrorist attack on Israel since the Yom Kippur War. At the holy time of Shabbat, Shemini Atzeret, and Simhat Torah, while Jews were immersed in celebration and spiritual contemplation, dozens of terrorist gunmen infiltrated communities near the Gaza border and Hamas launched a deluge of thousands of rockets at Israel cities.”

The Federation has opened a special crisis fund to provide aid for those affected in Israel by the conflict, he said.

In a press release, Ron Klein, chair of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said: “These events will have severe repercussions for Israelis and Palestinians alike, those responsible will be held to account, and these unconscionable acts of violence must come to an immediate end. Jewish Dems unequivocally stand with Israel and strongly support its right to self-defense. We welcome the assurances given by the Biden administration and Congressional leaders that they too stand in solidarity with Israel, and offer the support of the United States amid this uncertainty, terror, and war.”

The US Israel Education Association (USIEA) issued a statement calling on the US Congress “to provide full and complete support to Israel in the coming days in response to the deadly war launched today against Israel by the terrorist group Hamas.”

The USIEA “is a nonprofit that helps improve US-Israel relations by fostering educational discussions with American and Israeli bipartisan government leaders and industry experts,” according to their literature.

“Many countries have rightfully stepped forward to condemn Hamas for these attacks. Yet, some are asking for a de-escalation of violence on both sides. USIEA unequivocally supports Israel’s right to carry out all necessary measures to defend the homeland, recover hostages, and reestablish peace on the Gaza border,” USIEA CEO Heather Johnston said.

Police officers evacuate a woman and a child from a site hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Oct. 7, 2023 (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

An emergency aid campaign was also launched by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which was “deeply saddened and outraged by the attack on the State of Israel by Hamas terrorists. Our hearts go out to the people of Israel who face an unprecedented assault on their safety and well-being.”

“We stand in solidarity with the people of Israel and express our unwavering support for their right to defend themselves against these heinous attacks. We hope Jewish communities worldwide will join us in calling for unity in the face of this crisis and that the international community will mobilize against terrorism and work towards a peaceful resolution in the region,” the organization said.

“Today is a day that will live in infamy. On this Shabbat and Simhat Torah, the most joyous of Jewish festivals, Hamas launched an inhuman, brutal attack on Israeli civilians. Thousands of rockets have been fired indiscriminately. Even worse, terrorists infiltrated Israeli towns, villages and kibbutzim, and gunned down men, women, children and babies,” Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York said in a letter to congregants.

“There will be a time for investigating what went wrong. For now, we pray for the souls of the dead and the full recovery of the wounded. We call on the international community to condemn in the strongest terms the war crimes committed against Israelis. We pray for the wellbeing of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces as they seek to bring Hamas terrorists to justice and ensure the safety of Israeli civilians,” Hirsch said.

Americans for Peace Now (APN) announced that it was “horrified and outraged by Hamas’s attack on Israel, which includes rockets fired at civilian population centers, a ground invasion into Israeli border communities and the taking of Israeli civilian hostages.”

Calling the targeting and kidnapping of civilians an “inexcusable, outrageous war crime,” the organization said that “its staff and Board members, as well as its tens of thousands of supporters and activists across the nation, stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel. We send them our condolences and honor their strength on this calamitous day.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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