Kansas City area faith and political leaders respond to increased reports of anti-Semitism

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Renewed tensions between Israel and Hamas thousands of miles away seem to be having a negative effect on Jews in America and here in Kansas City.

There’s been an 80% increase in reported cases of anti-Semitism since the start of an Israel-Hamas conflict three weeks ago. Though there’s now a cease fire, speakers say it hasn’t put a stop to cases ranging from beatings to online bullying.

Synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses have been vandalized and destroyed in America. People have been chased and beaten for their Jewish faith. More than 220 cases of antisemitism have been reported to police according to the Jewish Community Relations Bureau.

“When they are attacked we too are attacked,” United Methodist Church of Resurrection Pastor Wendy Lyons Chrostek said.

Faith leaders from across Kansas City Thursday condemned those attacks and all forms of antisemitism.

“Let us call out those unacceptable expressions for what they are, anti-democratic anti-American anti-human, unpatriotic, unholy,” Bob Hill, Minister Emeritus, Community Christian Church, said.

Kansas City hasn’t experienced violence as a result of the latest fighting between Israel and Hamas. But Jews, especially local children are suffering.

“We’re definitely getting reached out to by a lot of families, by a lot of youth that are being bullied and harassed and tormented inappropriately in a lot of antisemitic ways,” Gavriela Geller, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Bureau, said.

Also represented, the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, which says Muslims are hurting too because of the conflict, but stand with the Jewish people.

“That’s part of our ethical principle, as people of faith, to defend each other and to combat hatred, to combat bigotry and to combat antisemitism, Islamophobia and all the forms of hatred that we are witnessing.” Inas Younis said.

Kansas’s only Jewish State Senator said the show of support and courage to speak out against hatred and violence gives him hope.

“When we stand up with one voice as a Kansas City community that’s when we are at our best, when we are at our strongest,” State Senator Ethan Corson said.

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