There has been much discussion about the reaction, or, in some instances, the lack thereof, of our elected officials following the abduction of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel. Although news of their tragic deaths earlier this week at the hands of terrorists who carried out a senseless and barbaric act of violence was met with virtual widespread condemnation, there were elected officials who were notably silent in the eighteen days following their abduction. Some of those who represent us in Washington were very vocal about the kidnappings, while others failed to address the issue completely.
Those that did speak about the horrific crime that occurred certainly deserve our thanks and our heartfelt gratitude. We sometimes assume that our elected officials will stand with Israel and the Jewish community at all times. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. However, when there are elected officials that display courage by standing in solidarity with the Jewish State and with our community in trying times, it is incumbent upon us to acknowledge their actions and thank them accordingly.
To that end, here is a compilation of statements from some prominent elected officials from New Jersey and New York about the kidnappings prior to learning about the boys’ heartbreaking deaths, some of which were made in the form of a press release and some which were made via Twitter. While others remained silent, these individuals spoke out. We should take some time to say “thank you” to our friends.
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) – June 19:
“Our hearts go out to the families of the kidnapped teens and the horror that they are living through right now. I offer my support to the Israeli leaders who are working around the clock to bring the teenagers home safely.
“This is an act of terror, perpetrated by those who reject negotiations, reject a two-state solution, support violence, and use terror as a political tactic. This situation is a direct outgrowth of President Abbas’ attempt to cozy up with a terrorist organization. That said, I am pleased that Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas are in communication, and that Abbas has pledged cooperation and security coordination with Israel on expeditiously locating the missing teens and bringing the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice. And I am encouraged that President Abbas has rightly condemned this act.
“Naftali, Gilad and Eyal belong with their families and each day they are separated is a day of unending suffering. I pray for their speedy return home.”
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) – June 16:
“Monitoring tragic kidnapping of 3 students in Israel - hoping for swift and safe return 2 families: #bringbackourboys”
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) – June 16:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the three Israeli teenagers, including an American citizen, kidnapped last week. Reports have indicated that Hamas, a known terrorist organization, is involved in their disappearance. I strongly condemn this heinous act and urge the United States government to provide any available resources to assist in their safe return.”
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-06) – June 20:
“The entire nation is devastated by the news that three Israeli teens were kidnapped last week. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel. It is my hope that these families will soon be reunited.
“I encourage the U.S. Department of State to continue offering their full support to Israel in the search for these missing teenagers. I am certain that the United States will continue to gather information on this tragedy, so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.”
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ-04) – June 16:
“My heart and prayers go out to these three young men and to their family and friends. The young men are the victims of a horrendous crime – a crime Prime Minister Netanyahu has attributed to the Hamas terrorist movement. The fact that other terrorist groups are themselves claiming ‘credit’ for such a sick action shows the strength of the anti-Semitic poison circulating in the Middle East and elsewhere.
“The United States should stand publicly and vocally in solidarity with these suffering families. I urge President Obama to personally ensure that our government offers Israel any assistance it requests.”
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) – June 18:
“My prayers are with the three young men kidnapped in Israel, including Naftali Frenkel, who is an American citizen; as a parent, I can’t begin to imagine what their families are going through. It is essential that the Palestinian government first, denounce this horrible act, and second demand from Hamas that the boys be immediately released. We will continue keep the heat on our government, and do all we can to bring pressure to bear on the Palestinian Authority until we get a positive resolution of this situation.”
U.S. Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY-16) – June 24:
“We in the United States are saying, as people are saying all over the world, ‘Bring our boys home.’ And they’re our boys—they are everybody’s boys. This is a parent’s worst nightmare, and as long as we don’t do anything to combat terror, we are in essence condoning terror.
“The Palestinians must understand that they will never get their state built on the backs of terror. In fact, it will set them back. They will not get their state if they think that terror or kidnapping young boys is the way to achieve political goals.
“This again could be anyone’s son – anyone’s. All of us who are parents, people who are not parents, just imagine when you kiss your child goodbye, he goes to school, and you think he’s coming back and then suddenly he doesn’t come back. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. So it’s very, very important that we have demonstrations all over the world until those boys are brought safely home.
“The United States and Congress stands with these boys and with their families and we will not stop until these boys are returned safely to their families. And those who perpetrated this heinous crime will be brought to justice. We will track them down. We will work with our Israeli allies and partners, and track them down. People who use terror as a political means will never succeed because we are determined.
“Right now, the first thing we need is let’s bring our boys home. Three wonderful boys, one of whom, as you know, is an American citizen. But it really transcends any kind of nationality. Because again, as the aunt to one of these boys says, this could happen to anyone and it is every parent’s nightmare. So let’s bring our boys home.”
U.S. Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-NY-17) – June 17:
“My thoughts are with the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped in the West Bank last week, and I pray for their safe and swift release. My thoughts and prayers are also with their families, including Naftali Fraenkel’s extended family living in Monsey in my Congressional district. I join the Administration in offering our full support for Israel as they work day and night to rescue the missing teens and to bring the captors to justice.
“Kidnappings and other forms of terrorism, especially involving children, have no place in decent, civilized societies. I call upon President Abbas to demonstrate his adherence to peace and security, address the allegations of Hamas’ involvement, and fully cooperate with Israeli authorities to ensure the boys’ safe return home.”
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY-06) – June 18:
“The kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers is outrageous and unacceptable, and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. I demand that the perpetrators of this despicable crime release these innocent teens at once. My heart aches for the three young men and their families and I ask all Americans to pray for their safe and speedy return.”
U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY-04) – June 18:
“I join with many Americans in expressing outrage over this cowardly act. I urge Palestinian officials to do all they can to secure the release of these three kidnapped Israeli teenagers. I pray for their swift release. No trust can be established between the Israelis and the Palestinians if some in the Palestinian community resort to violence.”
U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY-05) – June 18:
“Today, I add my voice to those in Israel, the United States and around the world who are calling for the immediate and safe release of Naftali Fraenkel, a dual Israeli-American citizen, Gilad Shaar; and Eyal Yifrach, three West Bank yeshiva students kidnapped on their way home six days ago. As a parent, I can’t imagine the anxiety and fear that the families of these young men must be enduring. These innocent teens must be set free and returned to their families now. Let no stone be unturned. Kidnapping of these youngsters is a provocation against the peace process which also undermines the credibility and sincerity of the Palestinian reconciliation government. Those responsible for their abduction must be held accountable.”
U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY-07) – June 18:
“The 3 kidnapped young Israelis and their families are in all our thoughts. Praying for Eyal, Gilad and Naftali’s safe return.”
U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-08) – June 17:
“Pray for the safe return of Naftali, Eyal and Gilad from their captors in the West Bank.”
U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY-03) – June 18:
“Thoughts are with the families of the kidnapped Israeli teens and I condemn this cowardly act by terrorists.”
U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-09 – June 17:
“On behalf of myself and the people of the Ninth Congressional District of New York, I extend prayers and support for the expedited and safe return of Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrah, and Naftali Frenkel, each of whom have family members here in our Brooklyn community. I share the concerns of the families and community leadership here in the United States, as well as, in Israel that their abrupt and unexplained disappearance is part of an attempt to threaten the security of an entire nation and I condemn in the strongest terms the kidnapping of these three teenagers last week. Furthermore, I add my voice in condemning those responsible for this act of terrorism, which Secretary of State Kerry said that ‘many indications (are) pointing to the involvement of Hamas.’ With President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry, my colleagues in Congress, and people of good will from around the world, I pledge my support to the effort to secure the safe return of Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrah, and Naftali Fraenkel to their loved ones.”
U.S. Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-NY-11) – June 17:
“My heart goes out to the families of the three young Jewish boys kidnapped in the West Bank last week and I pray for their immediate release and safe return to their homes…especially 16 year old Naftali Frenkel, a U.S. citizen with broad family ties in Brooklyn. I hope that all of my colleagues will join me in offering the Israeli government our strong support in the rescue of these young men and also reiterate our firm commitment to Israel’s right to defend its people from this kind of condemnable terrorism and intimidation.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – June 17:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers. Hoping for their safe and swift return.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio – June 16:
“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the three missing Israeli teenagers. May they come home safely – and soon.”
N. Aaron Troodler is an attorney and principal of Paul Revere Public Relations, a public relations and political consulting firm. Visit him on the Web at TroodlersTake.blogspot.com, www.PaulReverePR.com, or www.JewishWorldPR.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @troodler
By N. Aaron Troodler, Esq.