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An Elegy for Taylor Force, the American Student Killed by a Palestinian Terrorist In Israel

By  Joshua Yasmeh

On Tuesday, Vanderbilt MBA student and former U.S. Army Officer Taylor Allen Force was killed by a Palestinian terrorist at the port city of Jaffa, a cross-cultural hub bustling with tourists and exchange students. He was 28 years old. Eleven others were injured during the attack, including Force’s wife. She remains in critical condition, receiving treatment at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. The terrorist’s victims also included a pregnant woman and a Russian tourist.

A high-profile U.S. diplomatic delegation was in Israel at the time. “U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday his wife Jill and their grandchildren were dining on a Tel Aviv beach when a Palestinian killed an American tourist with a knife and wounded 11 other people on the seafront ‘not very far’ away,” reports Reuters.

After hearing about the tragedy, the Vice President offered his condolences to the Force family and the people of Israel, condemning Tuesday’s violent attack. “Let me say in no uncertain terms: the United States of America condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts. This cannot become an accepted modus operandi,” said Biden, adding:

This cannot be viewed by civilized leaders as an appropriate way in which to behave even if it appears to inure to the benefit of one side or the other. It’s just not tolerable in the 21st century. They’re targeting innocent civilians, mothers, pregnant women, teenagers, grandfathers, American citizens. There can be no justification for this hateful violence

Here is a video of the Vice President’s remarks:

As Biden mentioned, Force was among the best and brightest America had to offer. He was a student of the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. He was expected to graduate in 2017. A native of Lubbock, Texas, Force embraced the opportunity to take his studies to Israel where he tackled the field of global entrepreneurship. Here’s what he said about the prospect of studying abroad:

In addition to learning the skills needed to be successful in business, I want to establish life-long connections and friendships with my fellow students from the U.S. and around the globe.

Vanderbilt’s Chancellor, Nicholas Zeppos, released a statement to the campus community mourning Force’s loss. The statement is worth citing in full:

Dear Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff,

It is with extreme sadness that I write to inform you that Taylor Force, a student at our Owen Graduate School of Management, was fatally wounded March 8 in a stabbing attack while on an Owen school trip to Tel Aviv, Israel. All other Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff on the trip are safe.

Taylor embarked on this trip to expand his understanding of global entrepreneurship and also to share his insights and knowledge with start-ups in Israel. He exemplified the spirit of discovery, learning and service that is the hallmark of our wonderful Owen community. This horrific act of violence has robbed our Vanderbilt family of a young hopeful life and all of the bright promise that he held for bettering our greater world.

Taylor’s family and his friends and colleagues have our deepest sympathy and utmost support.

In light of this loss, we as a community can look to find strength by continuing our commitment to build and nurture an educational environment whose foundational mission is to expand world peace and enlightenment.

We also have university resources available for faculty, students, and staff. For students, please reach out to the Psychological Counseling Center 615-322-2571; for faculty and staff to the Employee Assistance Program 615-936-1327. The Office of Religious Life and University Chaplain can be reached at 615-322-2457.


Nicholas S. Zeppos


Force’s death is not just a loss to Vanderbilt, but the entire country. Before pursuing his MBA, Force served two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. A West Point graduate, Force worked as a Field Artillery Officer in the United States Armed Forces.

True to his name, Force served his country with conviction, pride, and force, harnessing the skills he learned in the military in pursuit of the American dream.

In a reflective eulogy, entitled “Mourning the Loss of Taylor Force,” Tablet Magazine’s Liel Leibovitz writes:

Anyone who still supports the Palestinian vision, a vision currently dedicated almost entirely to the murder of Israelis and, occasionally, Americans, should take a moment and think about Force. The life he led and the bitter way it ended should both guide us as we struggle to make strong moral and political choices. Anything else would dishonor his memory, and the memory of so many others—Israeli, American, British, French—who died for no other reason than their commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Force’s classmate has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help the victim’s family. For more information, click here.

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