Don’t kill us

We are teenagers on summer vacation. Some of us are religious Jews and some of us are religious Muslims. We are in different places and we come from different places.

We are your future.  And four quite like us — Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer, Eyal Yifrach, and Mohammed Abu Khdeir – were recently killed in a war they didn't choose or try to join.

These four teenagers were not militants any more than we are, and now their lives are over and their futures snuffed out. 

Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal were on their way home from school when they were abducted and murdered by extremists. When radicals burned him to death, Mohamed was on his way to a suhoor breakfast, the early morning pre-fast meal before the sun rises on Ramadan.

We too go to school, we eat, and we observe our cultural and religious holidays. We have friends and family living near where these teenagers lived. Some of us have even been there ourselves. 

We come from all sides of the religious and political spectrums and carry many perspectives, some of which seem unreconcilable. But across all those divergent perspectives, the deaths of these four boys have awakened the same intense emotions in each of us. Pain, frustration, anger, fear. 

Perhaps we are such attractive targets because we tend to be vulnerable. Perhaps our naivete makes us easy prey: we are often too idealistic to recognize those with malicious intent. Twisted people target us because we are an easy way to get at our families, our nations, our tribes, our humanity.

But while the extremists’ intent in killing teenagers is to perpetuate war and violence, their recent actions have only brought the two sides closer together. Rational people on both sides feel compelled to make these deaths worth something.

Though we may not agree on other things, we all agree that these senseless murders are not helping anyone. Now, we must strive to come out of this tragedy a little bit closer to a solution than when we started. 

Perhaps our youth and vulnerability create the possibility of finding justice and peace. In clubs and schools, college dorms and youth groups, some of us are getting to know one another.

Previous generations have not been able to secure the dreams of either side.  Don’t kill us before we even have the chance to try.

DANIEL STEINBERG, Los Angeles, CA .. age 16 … member of Bnai David-Judea Congregation, will be a senior at Shalhevet High School

MONA GHANNOUM, Pasadena, CA… Age 18 … member of Islamic Center of Southern California … just graduated from Arcadia High School 

MARGO FEUER, Beverly Hills, CA … age 16 … member of Bnai David-Judea Congregation, will be a senior at Shalhevet High School

MARWA ABDELGHARI,  La Crescenta, CA … age 19 … member of Islamic Center of Southern California ..sophomore at U of California Irvine