Dubai: One of the two American citizens executed by Isil also had Israeli citizenship, Israeli media has reported.
Steven Stoloff, who was brutaly murdered after a year in captivity, was announced as having Israeli citizenship by Paul Hirschon, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman. Hirschon tweeted yesterday “Cleared for publication: Steven Sotloff was #Israel citizen RIP”.
After the 31-year-old was kidnapped in August last year his friends and family undertook extensive efforts to remove all traces of his Israeli and Jewish identity. This included trawling through his Facebook for references to his religion and deleting articles he had written for publications such as The Jerusalem Post and The New York Times.
His Facebook page was eventually removed, and a friend of Sotloff told Israeli news site Ynet “We had two missions: To locate all of his friends worldwide — and he had many — and make sure they don’t talk to journalists. In addition, we had to convince journalists who were writing about him to cooperate with us and remove any connection between him and Israel or Judaism, so his Isil kidnappers don’t find out his background,”
It was also revealed that he was the grandson of survivors of the Nazi holocaust and had managed to fast for Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday, without his faith being revealed to his captors.
Sotloff, who had studied journalism at the University of Florida, had reported from across the Arab world. Countries such as Syria, Egypt, Libya and Bahrain to name but a few, a former editor described him as having “loved the Middle East”. He also spoke fluent Arabic.
Parallels have been draw between Sotloff and Daniel Pearl, a Jewish Washington Post journalist who was also beheaded in Pakistan by Al Qaida militants in 2002. In Pearl’s execution video, his Jewish roots drew significant emphasis. Sotloff’s family and friends are believed to have feared that had his captors discovered his Jewish roots it may have exacerbated further the harshness of his treatment.
Originally published in Gulf News