Mr. President: If I am killed by Muslim terrorists in Israel, will you know my name?

This past Monday Night, Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots football team did something that should never have had to be done, but that makes him a holy man in my eyes.  Robert Kraft did what every media outlet, politician, President Obama and countless others in the world should have done, but none did. Robert Kraft acted as the sole voice to a mute world and a heartless American Leadership.

You see, this past Monday Night, as the NE Patriots played the Buffalo Bills in front of 80,000 fans, and millions of others watched along on National TV for Monday Night Football, Robert Kraft stopped the football world for a moment. It was a moment of silence to honor the memory of Ezra Schwartz.

Ezra Schwartz was an 18-year-old native of Sharon, Massachusetts, who was gunned down by a Palestinian terrorist while he was studying in Israel.  A boy, preforming a mitzvah, cut down before he could live the life he should have.

Ezra Schwartz’s murder was terror in its purest form, a bright young American boy killed because he was a Jew. Nothing more, Nothing less.

Yet sadly, all we heard from the world in reaction to this despicable act was a deafening silence. No outcry in the media, no press conference from our President, no second page editorials demanding justice. Nothing. Nada .Silence.

I have been thinking about Ezra all week and cannot get the picture of his smiling face, nor the images of his grieving family, out of my mind.

One of the thoughts that keep popping in my head is, “what if that was me?” “What if the grieving family were my wife and children?” (G-d forbid).

This is not an abstract question and I do not theorize just for the sake of it. I process these difficult thoughts because I am currently sitting 35,000 feet above sea level on my way to Israel for 3 days. The purpose of my trip is not for pleasure or business, but rather, as an act of solidarity with my brothers and sisters in Israel. This is my way of expressing my love and commitment to the Holy Land.

My trip will take me to West Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Petach Tikva, all places well within what the world calls “undisputed territory”.  According to all laws of normalcy, I should not have to fear travelling to a first-world country that stands at the forefront of democracy, liberty, and equality.

Yet I do fear.

I fear my life could be ended in an instant by a radical Islamic terrorist. And I fear, Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, that you will not even acknowledge my death should I be taken in such a horrible way.

I am a good person (I think). I love peace and get along with almost everyone I meet. I sit on my County Human Relations Commission, fighting bias and racism, and am a member of the Interfaith Advisory Council for Homeland Security in NJ. I volunteer, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and do a lot of work to lift up those who have fallen on hard times.

I have never in my adult life lifted my hand against another.

Yet despite all of the above, I fear that if I were to be killed by a terrorist during my 3-day trip to Israel you will not know my name. I am certain that you will once again give in to your weakness of character and fail to stand up for what is right; your obligation to call out against those who murdered me.

You will not utter my name because of your stubbornness in maintaining your failed policies to deal with radical Islam. You will not recognize my death because you will not see me as an American visiting our greatest ally in the world, but rather as a Jew killed in Israel.

Worst of all you will abandon my family.

This is not what America is supposed to do when confronted with the evils of our generation. Ours is the country that stands up to darkness. What happened to our moral clarity in fighting for what is right? Why are we abandoning our great friend Israel in her trying times?

Mr. President, please just open your eyes. There is evil in the world that you refuse to acknowledge and in the words of Edmund Burke “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

I do not believe you are that naïve, dumb, clueless, or even a bad guy like some wish to portray you. In fact, I bet if we met we could break bread, share a beer, have a great time and get along just fine. But I would also put my arm around you and say “What the heck is wrong with you…WAKE UP!!!”

It’s time to call a spade a spade, for when you finally acknowledge the illness, we will be able to begin to figure out the cure.

I am sure that there will be some who will read this article and claim that I criticize you Mr. President, because I have a different political ideology. But this is not true. I have never before publicly criticized you in areas which I have disagreed with you politically. And truth be told, there are many areas in which our political ideas are the same.

No Mr. President, I do not write this stinging rebuke for political gain.

This is beyond politics. This is personal.

About the Author
Rabbi Avi Richler is the Executive Director of Chabad of Gloucester County, NJ.
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