Obama, Kerry call Schwartz family with ‘profound’ condolences

The president “underscored that Ezra’s studies in Israel strengthened the bonds between Israel and the United States.

Terrorist victim Ezra Schwartz (photo credit: Courtesy)
Terrorist victim Ezra Schwartz
(photo credit: Courtesy)
US President Barack Obama called the parents of Ezra Schwartz on Monday to offer his “profound condolences” after the 18-year-old US citizen was murdered in a terrorist attack in Israel last week.
The president “underscored that Ezra’s studies in Israel strengthened the bonds between Israel and the United States and, as we mourn his death, those bonds only grow stronger,” one senior administration official said of the call.
Funeral of American terror victim Ezra Schwartz
Several other Americans were injured in the incident, which was just one in a series of stabbings, shootings and vehicular attacks by Palestinian perpetrators that have plagued Israel in recent weeks.
US Secretary of State John Kerry also spoke with Schwartz’s parents, Ari and Ruth, on Monday. Kerry condemned all acts of terror against innocent civilians before his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Obama, the official continued, “condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack that took his life.”
On Monday night, the New England Patriots held a moment of silence for Schwartz, prior to their game in which they defeated the Buffalo Bills 20-13.
“Ladies and gentlemen, in a month when the NFL salutes the service of our brave men and women in our armed services, we also pause to remember the many who have recently lost their lives in senseless terrorist attacks abroad.
“Last Thursday, this reality struck close to home, when 18-year old Ezra Schwartz, a native of Sharon, Massachusetts, was gunned down nearly 5,500 miles from home while studying abroad.
“At this time, we would like to honor Ezra Schwartz and hundreds of victims like him with a moment of silence,” the announcer told the thousands of people who filled the Foxborough, Massachusetts, stadium.
As he spoke, a photo of Ezra, was shown on the stadium’s large screens.
Schwartz, was one of three people killed at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank last Thursday when a Palestinian gunman shot at cars that were stuck in a traffic jam.
He was spending his gap year studying at the Ashreinu yeshiva in Beit Shemesh before planning to attend Rutgers Business School in the fall.
He was buried in his hometown of Sharon, Massachusetts, on Sunday. At his funeral, his family recalled his athleticism and love of sports.
An avid Patriots fan, he followed their games in Israel.
At his funeral, his mother Ruth recalled how in the week before his death they spoke about the way Patriots had defeated the Giants.
“We FaceTimed with him last Sunday night after the Patriots Giants game. He was ecstatic.
We all enjoyed rehashing the game,” Ruth said.
His sister older sister Mollie similarly texted with him to ask how the game had gone.
“You don’t know??” he asked,” recalled Mollie. “This followed by, ‘Giants kicked a field goal to go up by 2 with 2:49 to go and the Pats had no time outs left. They drove down the field with seven-seconds left. Our kicker kicked a 54-yard[er] and in parenthesis he wrote (long field goal) to take the lead by one, with one-second left and they didn’t return the kick-off for a touchdown so we won,” Mollie said as she read out his text at the funeral.
Separately, on Monday, in New Jersey, Rutgers University lowered its flag to half mast in memory of Schwartz and a 1995 graduate, Anita Datar, who was one of 21 victims of last Friday’s terror attack at the Radison Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali.
“Their tragic deaths are a reminder to us all of the fragility of life and the urgent need for better understanding among us all,” the university said.