Following Outcry, Obama Administration Acknowledges Murder of American Jew Killed in Palestinian Terror Attack
“We were deeply saddened to learn about the death of Ezra Schwartz, an American citizen from Massachusetts who was murdered in a terrorist attack on Thursday while in Israel to pursue his studies,” the State Department said in a statement sent Friday to reporters, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) on Sunday.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the victim’s family, friends, and community as well as the family and friends of the four other people killed in yesterday’s tragic events,” the statement said, according to JTA.
The press release came more than 24 hours after a shooting attack near Hebron claimed the lives of three people — among them 18-year-old Schwartz — and a stabbing attack against Jews praying at a makeshift synagogue in an office building and shopping center in Tel Aviv left two men dead.
The statement was released after American Jewish groups expressed outrage at the lack of official US response to the killing of one of its citizens and wounding of five others at the hands of Palestinians – while the murder of an American student by ISIS terrorists in last Friday’s Paris attacks was swiftly denounced by the White House.
On Friday morning, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations included criticism of both the US administration and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in its condemnation of the previous day’s terrorist attacks in Israel and its condolences to the victims’ families. Its statement reads:
Conference of Presidents leaders Stephen. M. Greenberg, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO condemned in the strongest terms the continuing series of outrageous terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians including the murders of five people yesterday and the wounding of many others. Among those killed was Ezra Schwartz, an 18-year-old American studying in Israel. He along with friends was engaged in a service project and was returning when he was killed. These barbaric attacks have taken a heavy toll of innocent Israelis going about their daily lives at work, at prayer, or traveling to family celebrations. Yet, the international community cannot find the words to unequivocally condemn these violent acts and those responsible for inciting them, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
We are deeply disappointed that the United States government has not issued a statement despite the death of an American citizen. The statement by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations deplores the deaths but does not indicate who was responsible. His statement cites the fact that a Palestinian was killed, but not that it was at the hands of another Palestinian. All of those who are so quick to condemn Israel for exercising its obligation to defend its citizens while facing the same terror that we saw in Paris and other parts in Europe recently, to which the whole world responded with appropriate outrage, have remained silent. Can it be that because the victims are Israelis that it is not worthy of comment?
This year marked the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and other concentration camps. As we mark this sad anniversary we recall the pledge taken at the time of “Never Again.” We are again reminded of its significance when we see the world silent in the face of the murder of Jews. We demand that the United States government and others around the world who are truly committed to the war against terrorism speak out and act to hold accountable those who engaged in terrorist attacks, wherever they take place and that those who aid, abet, and incite them be held to account.
We express our deep condolences to all the families of the victims and pray that they were will be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Shortly thereafter came the State Department press release. Though it is not clear whether it was an afterthought, brought about by widespread Jewish outrage, particularly on social media, its final sentence contained a sentiment that continues to arouse the ire of the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – one that puts Palestinian terrorism and Israel’s response to it on equal footing.
“These tragic incidents underscore the importance of taking affirmative steps to restore calm, reduce tensions and bring an immediate end to the violence,” it concluded.