In Memorium: Our Friend, Chris Stevens

The news that the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was murdered in Benghazi on Tuesday night, hit us exceptionally hard.  Chris was a dedicated U.S. public servant with whom we worked closely and collegially for years – both during his stints in Washington and Jerusalem.   He was deeply knowledgeable about the issues around which our work focuses and he cared deeply about them.  His instinctive empathy and respect for the humanity of every individual he engaged, from any side of the issue, coupled with his deep and seemingly instinctive grasp of the region and its complexities – bolstered by experience in countries throughout the region – made him an exceptional, extraordinarily perceptive and effective diplomat.

More than all of that, Chris was our friend.  We will remember him most for his kindness, his unfailing humor, his perpetual optimism, and his personal commitment to his own version of “tikkun olam” – the idea that every man and every woman has an obligation to seek to repair this broken world, to make it a better place in which all people can enjoy lives of dignity, hope, and peace.

We mourn the unfathomably painful and tragic loss of our dear friend Chris.  He will be sorely missed.  And he will not be forgotten.

Finally, we want to take this moment, in Chris’s memory, to salute the work of so many of our friends around the world in the diplomatic corps.  Probably more than most people, we understand that you didn’t join your respective foreign ministries in order to enjoy some glamorous lifestyle.  We know that you did so in order to serve your countries and your fellow citizens, in an effort to make the world a better, safer place.  To do so, we know that you willingly take on many hardships, including long periods of separation from family and friends and, as we are seeing this week, the risk of very real personal peril.  We want to say to you: your work is a mitzvah – a good deed for which you deserve not only praise but gratitude.  Today we want to extend to you our deepest gratitude.  Your work is vital.  The sacrifices you make, and the risks you take, are not taken for granted.

Daniel Seidemann & Lara Friedman