MK Dov Lipman, reading a letter from the family of terror victim Taylor Force at a small ceremony held at Ben Gurion Airport, March 11, 2016..
(photo credit: DOV LIPMAN)
I organized the ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport to honor Taylor Force, because I wanted to give respect to an American tourist who was killed by a terrorist in Israel.
Taylor’s family telling me how much comfort and strength a ceremony in Israel would bring to them spurred me to make sure the send-off would take place, despite the numerous bureaucratic and technical obstacles.
But as I began to learn about the 29-year-old Taylor, I came to understand that Israel needed to give honor to him regardless of the tragic circumstances of his passing.
David Simpkins, an Israeli who attended the US Military Academy at West Point with Taylor, spoke at the airport ceremony: “Taylor Force was the perfect example of a US Army officer. He was humble, optimistic, hardworking, handsome, and genuinely loved everyone regardless of race, religion, or creed.
“Taylor is possibly the only person I knew who had absolutely no personal enemies. I never once heard anyone say a negative thing about him. I can’t think of anyone else who accomplished such a thing: to have lived his life in such a way that he did not hurt anyone enough for them to want to curse or disrespect his name.
“He was without exaggeration one of the best men America ever produced. He didn’t just stand for American values, he fought for them in both Afghanistan and Iraq. His goal was to do his share of the work to guarantee the spread of liberty and the equality of basic human rights. I don’t know a better man than Taylor Force.
“No matter how difficult the challenges of West Point or being an officer were, Taylor would genuinely smile and laugh through them. No one would ever contest this fact.
“He didn’t complain like the rest of us; he was too humble to believe he deserved better than the rigorous conditions he volunteered to accept. He wasn’t sarcastic, because he lacked the desire to emphasize anything negative.
“Taylor Force was a man of few words, and made an amazingly positive impact on the world surrounding him. He was America’s finest. You can ask anyone who ever met him inside or outside of the US Military.”
The speeches made by family and friends at the moving ceremony in Lubbock, Texas reaffirmed this theme. Taylor was a spectacular young man with the most sterling personal qualities and values.
Taylor was in Israel as part of a program for Vanderbilt University MBA students who work together with Israeli startup companies.
Speaking to people in the program, it was clear that Taylor had a creative business mind, and that he loved the idea of strengthening the Israeli-US relationship via business and technology.
Taylor’s sister, Kristen, described Taylor to me as “our world.” He was not just “the American tourist killed in Jaffa.” He was, indeed, the “world” for his family and close friends.
My office at the World Zionist Organization under vice chairman Dr. David Breakstone recently started the Facebook page “Israeli Lives Matter,” to highlight the human side of the loss caused by Palestinian terrorists. We cannot view the people who are being killed as numbers. We must know who they were as people, framing the depth of the losses that we are suffering.
In the case of Taylor Force, an “honorary Israeli,” Palestinian terrorism snuffed out the life of a great young man who had already accomplished so much at his young age. We should all learn from his example, and strive to emulate the way Taylor Force lived his life.
The author served in the 19th Knesset with the Yesh Atid Party. He is currently the director of the Department of Zionist Operations for the World Zionist Organization.