CHICAGO — Chicago’s Jewish leaders have united to condemn disinformation of Palestinian people long before the stabbing of the six-year-old Palestinian boy and the initial Israel-Hamas conflicts that arose last week.
According to text messages attained by CAIR-Chicago, “All you Muslims must die,” said the 71-year-old landlord accused of fatally stabbing the boy 26 times, and brutally injuring his mother in Chicago’s South suburbs.
Six-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoumi and his mother Hannan Shahin reportedly moved to the U.S. to escape settler violence but were in turn, approached with a brutal attack that resulted in the loss of life.
Rabbi Brant Rosen of Tzedek Chicago, shared he was devastated when first hearing the news but was not surprised per the discourse he says has been transpiring over the past week and a half –and decades before.
“This is the result of dehumanizing people, we’re seeing rhetoric out of the Israeli government and American leaders who are referring to Palestinians and Muslims as evil,” Rabbi Rosen said.
Detectives learned through an interview with the suspect’s wife, that he had been listening to conservative talk radios and felt that Shahin and her son would call people to attack them, according to court documents.
Over the past week, President Joe Biden has made comments on ‘X,’ formerly referred to as Twitter, in support of the Israeli government in efforts to combat terrorism.
“This rhetoric doesn’t come in a vacuum. This dehumanization has been happening for many years and when you dehumanize people, this is exactly what happens,” Rabbi Rosen said.
Seph Mozes, volunteer organizer with the Chicago Jewish Voices for Peace, questions the media’s role in fair reporting for the Palestinian cause.
“The way it is reported on in western media is unlike as it would be for any other country, the white phosphorus gas, if it was any other country, – that would be on the front page,” Mozes said.
Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant announced what he called a ‘complete siege’ on Gaza referring to Palestinians as ‘human animals,’ Al Jazeera reported.
“The Hamas attack on Israelis were atrocities but when dehumanization is given legitimacy through the state, we see unimaginable levels of violence,” Rabbi Rosen said.
Investigators were able to determine that both Al-Fayoumi and his mother were allegedly targeted by their landlord due to their Muslim faith and the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Rabbi Rosen said he remembers a similar sentiment rising after 9/11 and thinks it never went away – only created a ripple effect.
“When the war on terror took flight, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab prejudice makes people less inclined to listen to Arabs,” Mozes said.
Rabbi Rosen says standing together against intolerance, hatred and ‘otherizing’ people who are different is the key to combating violence in the future.
“Whether it is the tragic incident that happened yesterday, violence against African American men or anti-sematic acts against a Synagogue – reach out and ask them that you can do to support them,” Rabbi Rosen said.
A LaunchGood campaign was organized to help raise funds for the child’s funeral and his mother’s medical expenses.