Obama should look past Israeli tensions and honor American victims


By Hayley Nagelberg

Taylor Force was a 28-year-old American Veteran pursuing graduate studies at Vanderbilt University. He was stabbed to death on a boardwalk in Tel Aviv, Israel on March 8, in the midst of an attack that left an additional 10 people wounded.MG

Vice President Joe Biden was less than a mile away. He tweeted, “Tragic attack in Jaffa today, taking the life of an American. There is no justification for such acts of terror.”

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said: “We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Taylor and all those affected by these senseless attacks, and we wish a speedy recovery for the injured. As we have said many times, there is absolutely no justification for terrorism.”

President Barack Obama has said nothing.

On Nov. 19, 18-year-old Ezra Schwartz was making his way back from handing out food to soldiers to where he was spending a year studying. He was killed in an attack by a Palestinian terrorist in Gush Etzion, Israel, along with two other individuals. MG

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“We continue to condemn in the strongest possible terms these outrageous terrorist attacks,” Kirby said after the state department was pressured to issue a response. “These tragic incidents underscore the importance of taking affirmative steps to restore calm, reduce tensions and bring an immediate end to the violence.”

Secretary of State John Kerry mentioned Schwartz the following week, saying his death “is a challenge to all civilized people.”

Obama spoke with the parents of Schwartz, but offered no public statement.

Less than a week before, Nov. 13, was the horrific mass terrorist attack in Paris, France. And a week later, a day after the death of Schwartz on Nov. 20, came an attack in Bamako, Mali.MG

Obama, on Nov. 22, spoke at a press conference in Malaysia and said: “Today, families in too many nations are grieving the senseless loss of their loved ones in the attacks in France and in Mali. As Americans, we remember Nohemi Gonzalez, who was just 23 years old, a design major from California State University. She was in Paris to pursue her dream of designing innovations that would improve the lives of people around the world. And we remember Anita Datar of Maryland. She’s a veteran of the Peace Corps, a mother to her young son, who devoted her life to helping the world’s poor, including women and girls in Mali, lift themselves up with health and education.”

But there was no mention of Ezra Schwartz.

The lack of mention can be, and has been, written off on the grounds of the difference in an attack that takes just one or a few lives, as opposed to tens or even upwards of one hundred people. But the death of any American should count equally.

However, this is not just a lack of mention. It is a continuation in an unsettling double standard against the State of Israel and the events that take place in the country.

Israel and America depend on each other to survive. Israel depends on the ten-year Memorandums of Understanding that ensure financial support to Israel for military purposes and research and development. America benefits from Israel reinvesting 75 percent of this money back into the U.S. economy as well as from the technological advances, such as assisting California during the drought, aid after natural disasters here and around the world and at large as a democratic ally in an unstable region.

Tension started to raise between the U.S. and Israel when Obama skipped visiting Israel in 2009 during a tour of the Middle East.MG He did later return to visit Israel and talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and then welcomed Netanyahu to the White House a year later.

At that meeting, the frustration between these leaders increased when Obama rattled off a list of 13 steps Netanyahu had to take to achieve peace in the region, and then walked out of the room before Netanyahu could answer. Tensions reached an all-time high during negotiations over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran last year. Again this year there have been frustrations over Netanyahu coming to the United States, when he cancelled his visit set for next week.

It is no secret that there are strained relations between Obama and Netanyahu, but these personal disagreements should not change how our president reacts to the deaths of any American citizen.

Terrorism anywhere should be condemned promptly and accurately. The loss of American life anywhere should be treated with the same sadness and respect. It is shameful that our president has not seemed to understand this.

I would love to hope that there would not be another cause for Obama to release a statement like the ones that were made after these attacks, but I doubt that to be the case. So, if and when he should have to make another statement, I ask he does not let his personal frustrations get in the way of his respect for this country and each and every one of its citizens.

Hayley is a freshman in ACES.

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