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Silence of the doves

The usually talkative senators from Ezra Schwartz's state have stayed mum on the murder of their constituent

This week, in response to calls for the United States government to stop taking in Syrian refugees following last week’s horrific terrorist attack in Paris, Senator Elizabeth Warren uttered words that must now seem terribly ironic to her constituents.

These events test us. It is easy to proclaim that we are tough and brave and good-hearted when threats feel far away — but when those threats loom large and close by, our actions will strip away our tough talk and reveal who we really are.

Not two days after Ms. Warren made those impassioned remarks on the Senate floor, one of Ms. Warren’s own constituents, eighteen-year-old Ezra Schwartz from Sharon, Massachusetts, was gunned down by a Palestinian terrorist in Israel, together with two other innocent civilians.  In response, the sanctimonious senator said nothing.

And that is not because Ms. Warren has a difficult time speaking. On November 18th, the day before Ezra Schwartz was murdered, Ms. Warren’s official Twitter account sent out more tweets than a sparrow in mating season — 11– about lobbyists, tax reform and the Economic Policy’s Women’s Economic Agenda. The day before that, Ms. Warren went to the Senate floor to deliver her remarks about Syrian refugees. And, lest anyone doubt Ms. Warren’s ability to multitask, she sent out tweets both before her speech (“Heading to the Senate floor now…”) and after her speech (“…Today I spoke about what I saw”). Yet she could not spare even a character for the beautiful young boy with the sweet smile from her home state.

And she was not alone in that silence. The other senator from Massachusetts, Ed Markey, joined her in silent solidarity. Mr. Markey sent out 8 tweets in the time following the murder. Not one was about his murdered constituent or the Massachusetts family and community devastated by his murder. Perhaps that was because Mr. Markey had more important and pressing subjects to talk about, like reflecting on the lives touched by Robert F. Kennedy (a man 47 years dead) and giving kudos to those trying to raise the age for using tobacco to 21 (because, clearly, Senator Markey really cares about young people dying).

And that silence goes all the way up the Democratic ladder to the Obama administration. Yes, the same administration that never hesitates to throw loud, public hissy fits when Israel constructs some shacks on disputed territory was eerily mum when an American citizen was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in cold blood. It asked both sides to show restraint. Because, clearly, a terrorist pumping bullets into a car full of unarmed civilians is a complex, two-sided issue.

And that is precisely the point. It is not complex at all. It is actually rather simple — terrorists killed a young American boy who went abroad to study in Israel, just like terrorists killed Nohemi Gonzalez, a young American woman who went abroad to study in Paris. Just like terrorists killed Anita Datar, a young American woman who went to promote healthcare and education in Mali, and just like terrorists killed Steven Satloff, an American reporter, in Syria. Yet, unlike the murders of Gonzalez, Datar and Satloff, which were extensively covered and widely condemned, Ezra’s murder received little coverage and condemnation in liberal circles.


Does Ms. Warren think that Ezra was somehow less innocent because he was in Israel rather than in Paris or Mali? Does Mr. Markey think that the suffering of Ezra’s family and community specifically and Jews or Israelis generally is somehow less genuine and terrible than the suffering of the Gonzalez and the Datar families, or the suffering of Syrian refugees?  And does Mr. Obama think that Mr. Schwartz would still be alive if he “showed restraint”?  In the wake of the slaughter in Paris, did he ask Parisians to “show restraint”?

To quote a prominent Senator, “These events test us. It is easy to proclaim that we are tough and brave and good-hearted.” And, I would add, that it is easy to pay lip service to caring about your constituents and having zero tolerance for the terrorists who harm them. But in the end, our actions “…reveal who we really are.”

About the Author
Yigal M. Gross is an attorney who lives in Teaneck, New Jersey with his wife Tamar Warburg and their children Ella, Sara and Yonatan.
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