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November 26, 2015 8:14 am

An Open Letter to Imam Ahmad on the Murder of Ezra Schwartz

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow /

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Ezra Schwartz was killed in a Palestinian terror attack in Israel last week. Photo: Facebook.

Ezra Schwartz was killed in a Palestinian terror attack in Israel last week. Photo: Facebook. – Dear Imam Abdul Rahmam Ahmad,

I read the text of the condolence letter that you wrote the Jewish community of Boston following the recent murder of 18-year-old Ezra Schwartz by Palestinian terrorists.

As the father of a young woman who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in Israel in 1995, I appreciated the fact that you, as the imam of the Islamic Center of New England, spoke out.

I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of your expression of “great sadness” that Ezra “had his life brutally cut short in Israel….” I am glad to know that, as you put it, “The Islamic community at Sharon has always categorically condemned such violent acts based on our firm belief that Islam enjoins us to be a people who bring peace and harmony to the world.” Especially poignant was your statement that, “Although I cannot comprehend your loss, please know that during this time I share in your pain…Your families will be in my and my family’s hearts, and in our prayers.”

And you concluded with the ancient Hebrew expression that we say to Jewish mourners, “Hamakom yenachem et’chem b’toch shar avay’lay Zion ve’Yerushalayim [May God comfort you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem].” That was a nice touch.

Yet after reading your letter, dear Imam, I found myself a bit puzzled. For some reason, you made no reference to who it was that “cut short” Ezra’s life, and what motivated the killer. Those are important points. After all, Ezra did not die in some random accident. He was murdered in cold blood. By Palestinian terrorists. Who were acting out of self-declared Islamist motives.

To combat such heinous murders, dear Imam, we need to be frank about who the murderers are, and why they are murdering. Anything less impedes our fight against the killers. Anything less undermines the struggle for justice for the victims. Anything less is a slap in the face to the families of the murdered.

I fervently hope, Imam Ahmad, that your failure to refer to the Palestinian Islamist killers was just a careless oversight. I hope it does not represent a reluctance on the part of some American Muslims to explicitly denounce the Muslims who are murdering Jews — including American Jews — in Israel.

Dear Imam, you wrote in your letter, “I hope that I can serve as a resource and ally for you during this trying time, and that this terrible incident will be a catalyst for bringing our communities together, rather than pulling us apart.”

One way in which you could fulfill that pledge is by becoming the American Jewish community’s ally in the struggle for justice for American victims of Palestinian terrorism.

Do you know that there are streets and parks in the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) capital, Ramallah, that are named after murderers of Americans? In response, you could join American Jews in urging Obama administration officials to refrain from visiting Ramallah until those insulting street names are changed.

Do you know that the US helps to train PA policemen? You could join American Jews in calling on the Obama administration to make future training conditional on the PA firing police officers who have been involved in attacks on Americans.

Do you know that US courts have ordered the PA to pay compensation to terror victims’ families? You could join American Jews in calling on the Obama administration to deduct those payments from the annual US aid package of $500 million to the PA.

Becoming our genuine ally in this fight for justice, dear Imam, would be a meaningful way to, as you put it, “bring our communities together, rather than pulling us apart.” I eagerly await your reply.

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

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  • I hate to say it, but it sounds to me like Mr. Flatow is barking up the wrong tree. If half of the imams in Israel were able to write what this imam wrote, “[t]he Islamic community at Sharon has always categorically condemned such violent acts,” all of the terrorist organizations would disintegrate within two weeks flat. If Abbas had the moral fortitude to issue such a remark, the current uprising would come to a grinding halt on the same day.

  • June Getraer

    Thank you Stephen Flatow for your always considered comments. Please let me know the response you receive from this Imam.

  • Lynne Marton

    My dear Stephen Flatow,
    I say it this way because you, as well as all other Jews and I are dear to each other – it’s just that some have to come to that realization that WE ARE ONE.
    Your letter is absolutely correct. I also noticed that “sin of omission” – and honestly, I do not think it was accidental. They come out with all the right things except for the one that is so necessary for them to actually say out loud and to acknowledge to themselves and the rest of the world – they just can’t and won’t say it – that it was “palestinian terrorists that murdered Ezra” and Alisa, and all the others that have been senselessly slaughtered by them. And because of that, all the “sorry’s”, we mourn with you, and hand-wringing, etc., don’t really mean much – if anything.
    Those who can and do say it – admit, and own it, show it and act for us, and ultimately the world, will have a place reserved for them with the righteous – for they do the right thing. G_d Knows ALL!!!!!
    That being said, dear Stephen, I do remember that time 20 years ago when your sweet daughter Alisa was taken so cruelly from you, and from all of us. She will Never be forgotten, as Ezra and all our children, parents, family members, and friends that were taken from us – by those barbarian acts of moslem palestinian terrorism – will Never be forgotten.

  • Nancy B

    Excellent letter! All three of the points you make about the Obama administration’s ‘support’ of the not moderate PA administration are very disturbing. I intend to write letters of my own. I was infuriated in Aug. when Obama’s administration petitioned the federal judge to lower the Palestinian government’s amount of bond required to appeal the large damages awarded to American victims of PA terror. This administrations actions have been beyond obtuse. Which has lead me to believe that they have been truly calculated.

  • Lois Hellman

    Thank you for this insightful letter. I was (and I still am) heartened by the Iman’s words to the parents of Ezra Schwartz. Now I have been educated by Stephen M. Flatow’s open letter to Iman Abdul Rahman Ahmad letter. Because you. Apologies are easy (for most people) but actions is what counts. I look forward to reading about the Iman’s response. I hope that I might soon read that the communication between Stephen M. Flatow and Iman Abdul Rahmam Ahmad continues and produces productive results. Thank you for your facilitation of the dialog.