Leadership on Point

Ezra Schwartz’s Death Should Be a Wake-Up Call for American Political Leadership

November 24, 2015 Jessica Levin - Guest Author

Hope Peace

Violence and tragedy are two words that could not escape our vocabulary this week. In the midst of deadly events in France, Beirut, and Mali, there was a tragic terrorist attack in Israel – the death of five individuals, including 18-year-old American student Ezra Schwartz –that was barely acknowledged by political leaders in this country.

All we can think about is Ezra at age nine, Jessica’s rambunctious, outgoing, and carefree camper. The camper who had so much energy, excitement, and passion. As he grew up, he devoted himself to his studies, his family, his friends, and his community, which included summers at Camp Yavneh in New Hampshire. His commitment to the Jewish values of Tikkun Olam, translated from Hebrew as “repairing the world,” were evident in his last hour of life, when he was shot on his way to deliver food and care packages to Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.

Religious persecution, as evident in the case of Ezra and the Israelis who lost their lives last Friday, is ever present. This oppression is not reserved for any particular religious group. Muslims across the world are discriminated against because a percentage of their population are associated with the Haram State and its radical Islamic ideologies. The most recent terrorism across the world has not only revitalized the power of government surveillance and trampled on civil rights, but has catalyzed the rise of religious intolerance in this country. Over half of U.S. governors oppose welcoming Syrian refugees into their states. Some Presidential candidates have urged the U.S. to implement a surveillance system that monitors all Muslims and mosques in this country. What our political institutions fail to recognize is that Syrian refugees are not terrorists. Muslims are not all Islamic extremists. Narrow beliefs make the United States a country filled with religious discrimination, oppression, fear, and hate. We are a country unprepared to manage, accept, respect, and discuss religious diversity.  (more…)

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