Skip To Content
Forward 50 2014

Steven Sotloff

Steven Sotloff should be ineligible for the Forward 50. Our list honors the living. But Sotloff, who was murdered by Islamic militants in the summer, merits special inclusion. To the end, he held fast to his beliefs, both as a journalist and as a Jew. If not for the fanatical ideology of his murderers, Sotloff would still be alive.**

Sotloff was drawn to the Middle East by his Jewish background. The grandson of Holocaust survivors, he was raised in a Reform Jewish household in Pinecrest, Florida. He made aliyah to Israel in 2005 and studied government at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

One friend told The Times of Israel that Sotloff constantly questioned the status quo. That spirit of inquiry propelled Sotloff as he covered the Arab Spring as a freelance journalist for Israeli and American publications. His reports from Libya, Syria and Egypt often focused on the little people: the rebel fighter, the anti-government protester, the seamstress. As his family said in a statement: “He was no war junkie…. He merely wanted to give voice to those who had none.”

When Sotloff was kidnapped in August 2013, his friends scrubbed the Internet of all mention of his Jewish and Israeli background. Even his captivity was kept quiet in the hope it would improve his chance of survival. The first the world knew of Sotloff was in August, when he was paraded on video by Islamic State militants, following the beheading of another journalist, James Foley. Weeks later, Sotloff was dead. He was 31.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.