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The Word ‘Israel’: To Mention, or Not?

A few weeks ago, a moment of silence was given to honor Ezra Schwartz, the teenage boy who had been murdered in Israel while on his way to bring food to Israeli soldiers. On Thursday, November 19, after the terrible event happened, Jews all around the world were devastated. Not only had another drastic terrorist attack occurred in Israel, but Ezra Schwartz was an American teenager whom many American Jews either knew or felt an instant connection to due to the fact that he was from their country. Now not only was it an issue the Jews in Israel had to deal with, but an issue that Jews in America were starting to experience also.

As devastation spread throughout the local communities due to the attack, another sad thought appeared in many people’s minds: no one besides for them knew about this. There was barely any mention of the killing of Ezra Schwartz in the news. Besides for the Jewish papers and Jewish online news reports, the attack did not appear anywhere, especially not in any American news reports. This upset many Jews, and of course greatly upset the family of Schwartz. People everywhere should know about the horrible terrorist attack that had killed three people, including the young teen. But no one did.

That is, until Robert Kraft, the Jewish owner of the National Football League’s New England Patriots, decided to take action. After the request from the former Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman, the Jewish businessman agreed to help raise awareness for the avid Patriots fan and Massachusetts resident. Right before the kickoff on Monday Night Football in a game versus the Buffalo Bills, a picture of Ezra smiling in a New England jersey appeared on the big screens as an announcer gave a few short words about the attack and death of Ezra that had taken place only the week before. This told not only every single person standing in the Gillette Stadium that night about Ezra, but also told millions of hardcore football fans watching the game all around America about him. Also, with or without the intention for this, Kraft’s decision to hold a moment of silence also appeared in papers all around America, which included information about Ezra Schwartz in its articles. Kraft’s action had caused awareness of Schwartz’s death to be raised all around the U.S., which had been exactly what Ezra’s family and Jews everywhere had wanted to happen.

The only issue with what had happened that night was what the announcer had said. Of course, we shouldn’t be ungrateful to Kraft, since he technically didn’t have to do anything at all. But yet, it was slightly disappointing for many when the word Israel wasn’t mentioned in the announcement that took place right before the moment of silence. Instead of saying he had been in Israel, the announcer said Ezra had been “nearly 5,500 miles from home while studying abroad” when the attack took place. He also equated Schwartz with American soldiers and other innocent victims who had met similar fates due to “senseless terrorists attacks abroad.” Although people now knew about Schwartz, no one knew he had been attacked in none other than the Jewish state.

There are two sides to think about when discussing why Kraft would even think about leaving out the word Israel in the announcement:

We must understand that Robert Kraft tried to do the best he could without raising any controversial issues and debates. After all, people can handle hearing about the death of a young boy and mourn about it together, but not everyone can handle hearing about the state of Israel. Many Americans don’t believe in the state of Israel. That night, sitting in the crowd were a bunch of crazy, heated, tense Patriots fans who were ready to yell to their heart’s content. Mentioning Israel might not be the best idea—it might lead to loud, verbal fights or intense physical fights, and no one wants that to happen, especially when at the end of the day the whole reason there was a moment of silence for Schwartz was in order to, well, give a moment of silence. Not shouting.

On the other hand, though, it was quite upsetting Israel wasn’t mentioned. Schwartz was killed in Israel by yet another crazy, suicidal terrorist. Why shouldn’t the world know about this? People, especially Americans, need to understand what’s going on. They can’t keep ignoring the events happening in Israel and pretend they have nothing to do with it or that their views about Israel being the guilty ones in the equation hold true. Awareness should not only be raised for the people being attacked and killed, but for the place where all the attacking and killing is happening. Both sides to the argument are very legitimate and each make sense why Kraft would or would not mention the world Israel. We can’t blame Kraft for in the end choosing not to mention Israel, yet we still can’t help being upset that this was the choice he made.

Personally, I was slightly bothered that Israel wasn’t mentioned, but I don’t blame Kraft. It’s more of an American people problem, one that more sooner than later needs to be dealt with if we want to achieve some type of world peace. Americans need to accept what’s happening in Israel and learn the real facts about Israel from a true source instead of the biased news reports and rumors they hear. This problem wasn’t Kraft’s to take care of that Monday night while thousands of people stood waiting for the kickoff. As upsetting as it is that there was even a question about saying the word Israel, it wasn’t Kraft’s fault, and the Patriots owner did the best he could. He dedicated a moment of silence right before an intense game that all the fans and players were dying to start, in order to raise awareness for a fellow Jew in need of acknowledgement. I truly admire Kraft and think of him as an amazing person for doing what he did. Not everyone would be as brave and willing as he was, and he deserves a lot of credit for it. Kraft also paid a shiva call to the Schwartz home in Sharon, Massachusetts.

Hopefully in the future, though, the word Israel can be mentioned in front of tons of Americans without the worry of what might happen next. But, until then, we as Jews must try our best to raise awareness for the victims of Israel’s terrorist attacks and for the issues going on in Israel during these hard times. Every opportunity to help Israel and the Jewish nation should be taken, just like Kraft took the chance to help by putting important matters aside (yes, a football game is a very important matter) and giving a moment of silence to a boy, and a Jewish nation, who needed it.

Tenth grader Elianna Benhamu writes for The Century Road, a sports journalism website created by students from The Frisch School. Visit the website at www.thecenturyroad.com for more insightful articles into the world of sports.

By Elianna Benhamu

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