Jews throughout the United States will hold memorial services this week to mourn the murders of the three Israeli teenagers. There will be tears, there will be prayers, there will be words of consolation. And then the mourning needs to be followed by action – political action.
The murder of the three Israeli boys is not just an Israeli problem. It is an American problem, too – both because one of the victims was an American and because the U.S. government plays a major role in shaping what happens between Israel and the Palestinians. That's where the American Jewish community comes in. American Jews need to undertake focused political action to urge the Obama administration to help Israel in its fight against the Hamas terrorists.
So far, the administration's response to the crisis has been deeply disappointing. Despite the kidnappings, President Barack Obama continues to recognize and support the Palestinian Authority-Hamas unity regime. The annual U.S. aid package of $500-million to the Palestinian Arabs continues, even though Hamas is now indirectly benefiting from that aid.
Worse, the administration did not fully take Israel's side in the pursuit of the kidnappers. In the midst of the ordeal, the State Department called on Israel to show "restraint" in its actions against Hamas. President Obama, in his statement following the discovery of the bodies of the three victims, called on "all parties" to refrain from steps that would "destabilize" the situation. Such language has always been a thinly-disguised code word for urging Israel to go easy on the terrorists.
Since one of the kidnapped boys was an American citizen, the Obama administration could have done what it routinely does in such situations – offer a multimillion dollar reward for information leading to the capture of the terrorists. Yet even after the names of the kidnappers were publicly revealed, the administration refused to offer a reward.
The U.S. government website offering the rewards, www.rewardsforjustice.net, has a section called "success stories." The majority of the victims in those cases were from a single case which is rather similar to the kidnapping in Israel – it too involved Islamist terrorists
Here are a few practical steps that concerned Americans can take:
1. Call or email the White House (202-456-1111 / http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments) and urge the president to withdraw America's recognition of the Palestinian Authority-Hamas unity regime.
2. Call the Congressional switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask to be connected to your Member of Congress. Urge your congressmember to support suspension of U.S. aid to the Palestinian Arabs.
3. Call the Department of Justice (202-514-2000), which administers the Rewards for Justice program. Urge that a reward be offered for information leading to the capture of the murderers of 16 year-old U.S. citizen Naftali Frankel and the other two boys.
Mourning is important. A community in pain needs to express its anguish. But there is a time for mourning, and there is a time for action. We have mourned, we have cried. Now is the time to dry our tears and pick up the phones.
The authors are members of the board of the Religious Zionists of America.
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