Three Brave Men

During the past few weeks, much of the world has been riveted by what is occurring in the Middle East with the Islamic State. This ruthless terrorist gang will stop at nothing in an attempt to conquer all Muslim inhabited land. The senseless killings of American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff (who also held Israeli citizenship), and of British aid worker David Haines, brought the horrors of this terror organization closer to many hearts.

James Foley had already been captured once, while on assignment in Libya in April 2011. He was released 44 days later. For most people, being captured once is enough to find a new occupation without such dangers. Despite the risks, Foley went back to work and was placed on assignment in Syria, where he was captured in November 2012.

Steven Sotloff, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, traveled throughout the Middle East on assignment for a variety of news sources. He had made aliyah to Israel in 2005 and was a graduate of IDC Herzliya. He was captured in Syria in August 2013. In an attempt to save his life, he kept his Judaism and Israeli citizenship quiet. Despite his position in captivity, he maintained elements of his Judaism, praying in the direction of Jerusalem, and fasting on Yom Kippur.

David Haines, abducted in March 2013, was also captured in Syria, near a refugee camp he had been working with. Aiding others was a part of his life, as he had worked with the United Nations in the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East to better the lives of the people caught in war-torn regions.

In one of my first journalism classes at New York University, the professor told the class that journalism has the power to change the world; it can shed light unto suffering people and bring hope to the hopeless (essentially aid workers with pens and paper). Foley and Sotloff were attempting to show the suffering of the Syrian people during the Syrian Civil War while Haines was attempting to help those who could not help themselves. Service to the global community drove these men to help the Syrian people.

In the wake of these tragic murders, the world should open their eyes and look at what is taking place in the Gaza Strip. Hamas, an organization as ruthless and crazed as the Islamic State, is the ruling power. They fire rockets filled with shrapnel unto the people of Israel and glorify the death of people they are supposed to govern within the Gaza Strip. If the world truly wishes to wipe the Islamic State terrorists off the Earth, they need to unite and realize that the destruction of one organization is not good enough. All of these terror groups need to be rooted out in order to preserve the lifestyle that countries with freedom enjoy. Hopefully the world will gain the bravery of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines, three men trying to better the world as we know it.

May their memories be a blessing.

About the Author
Joshua Z. Lavine is a student at NYU double majoring in Hebrew & Judaic Studies and Journalism. At NYU, he Co-Chairs the Bronfman Philanthropy Fellowship, serves as an Executive Board Member for Gesher:Israel at NYU, and serves as a Campus Fellow for the Israel on Campus Coalition. His written work has appeared in Washington Square News, NYULocal and Jewish Voice Magazine.