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Elchanan Poupko

Ambassador Nides Owes Jews an apology

Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli, June 20, 2023. Inset: (Left) Harel Masood, 21, of Yad Binyamin, (center) Elisha Anteman, 17, of Eli, and (right) Ofer Fayerman, 60, of Eli, who were killed in the attack (Flash90; courtesy)

While there are many details we do not know about the heinous terrorist attack in la junction today, we do know that the response of American Ambassador Tom Nides has caused a great deal of damage and pain that needs to be repaired.

Responding to the Palestinian terrorist attack that took the lives of four innocent Israelis and injured eight, Nides tweeted:

“Deeply concerned about the civilian deaths and injuries that have occurred in the West Bank these past 48 hours, including that of minors. Praying for the families as they mourn the loss of loved ones or tend to those injured.”

 

A response mentioning in the same breath terrorists that have been killed by the IDF as well as young Jews being murdered while eating and a hummus restaurant, is, first and foremost, an insult to the victims and their families.

It is an insult to the Israeli soldiers who risk their lives day and night to protect all civilian lives. It is an insult to the communities whose children, friends, neighbors, and members have been injured or killed.

Yet beyond the emotional and moral issues, the statement also caused strategic harm.

At a time when the US is being pushed out of the Middle East, from Syria to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, it is paramount that we make sure that every Israeli knows America is Israel’s greatest ally.

When Israelis see an American ambassador, all lives matter to them; even as the Palestinian Authority comes closer and closer to China, Israelis might rethink their partnership with America. We cannot afford Israelis wondering if we have their back, even if for a moment.

Even as these words are being written, and even as thousands of people reply with anger and pain, the Ambassador has yet to have deleted his offensive statement.

These are difficult times for America’s foreign policy, and we do not need needless conflicts. Sure, Washington and Jerusalem will always have differences of opinion, and those can be strong at times, but sympathizing with the victims of a terror attack should not be one of those differences.

Above the fact that these victims were Israeli, they were also Jewish. They were not killed for very different reasons than the Jews who were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. If we begin making excuses when Jews are killed just for being Jews, we lose our moral and historical unity.

Ambassador Nides must offer an apology both to the state of Israel, to those who value strong US-Israel relations, and to the Jewish people who mourn the loss of our brethren regardless of where they are attacked.

About the Author
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko is a New England based eleventh-generation rabbi, teacher, and author. He has written Sacred Days on the Jewish Holidays, Poupko on the Parsha, and hundreds of articles published in five languages. He is the president of EITAN--The American Israeli Jewish Network.
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