This summer saw a lot of tragic deaths–from both sides. No matter where your politics lean, death and injury is rarely something in which to take satisfaction. One sub-group of those killed, however, has received significantly less spilled ink than others – and as a staunch, unapologetic supporter of Israel, as well as a dual U.S. and Israeli citizen, I believe it is these murdered Americans who deserve some more attention now.
In the last few months, five American citizens have been killed while living or serving in Israel. Naftali Fraenkel, one of the kidnapped and murdered teens whose family emigrated from New York; Max Steinberg, a fallen lone soldier from Woodland Hills, CA; Sean Carmeli, a fallen lone soldier from South Padre Island, TX; and David Menachem Gordon, a soldier who allegedly took his own life, from Detroit, MI.
On Wednesday night, the world lost another Israeli-American, this time, a 3-month-old baby. Chaya Zissel Braun–whose parents had tried for years to conceive a child–was killed in a terrorist attack when a Palestinian driver deliberately plowed into a crowd of people waiting for the train. Chaya Zissel (whose name literally means ‘living sweet’ in Hebrew and Yiddish), was visiting the Western Wall for her first, and last, time. As the Hamas-supporting murderer drove into the crowd, the residents of the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem threw rocks and Molotov cocktails, set tires on fire and clashed with police forces. And what did the United States have to say? Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of State, offered glib condolences and ended with this: “We urge all sides to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this incident.” Are you serious?
When Hamas rockets were fired towards Ben Gurion Airport, former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg didn’t heed travel warnings and defiantly flew to Israel in solidarity, even paying a shiva call to the Steinberg family.
Paid a shiva call to the Steinberg family to remember their son Max, an American citizen who died serving in the IDF pic.twitter.com/xnM30SM7Pv
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) July 23, 2014
As for Obama, we all remember counting the days – 18 in total, ironic considering its numerical equivalent to the Hebrew word for life – until he spoke out against the kidnappings and murders of the three teens, Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali – one of those U.S. citizens Obama had sworn to protect when he was elected president. When Israel entered Gaza by foot and we lost our lone soldiers, Max and Sean, among many others, how did the United States react? A few words of condolences, harsh criticism of Israeli tactics, and then very loud silence. When ISIS publicly beheaded two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, Obama spoke up and took immediate action. He sent aid and approved the use of drone strikes in Iraq. He vowed vengeance for his American citizens’ lives.
I suppose if his citizens die in Israel, though, it counts less.