The American government has failed me and many other terror victims in Israel –
and continues to fail us. While in 2005 the Justice Department established an
office in my son Koby Mandell’s name in order to pursue the killers of American
citizens in Israel, the office has never done anything to prosecute Palestinian
terrorists. What should have been an honor in my son’s name has become a source
My family was happy when we heard about the Koby Mandell Act
being spearheaded by Sarah Stern, currently president of The Endowment for
Middle East Truth. When the act was passed as part of an omnibus rider bill in
2005, we thought it was cause to celebrate.
But now we feel that we are
again victims: the office is an affront to my son’s name.
In fact, we
were recently visited by the head of the American Consulate here in Israel. I
asked her to find out about the recent activities of The Office of Justice for
Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OJVOT) for me. I never heard back from
Like most other American terror victims in Israel, I thought that
the American government would be involved, would help us. After the signing of
the law, the person in charge of the office came to visit us in Israel and
assured us that the office would be in touch with all American terror victims,
keeping us up to date with the course of the investigations into the murder of
our loved ones.
Then he left the job. An interim director took over. We
weren’t informed. Then another lawyer became the head of the office, Heather
Cartwright. At least this time they told us.
I did learn that the Office
helped an American family, the Lukens, after their daughter, Kristine, was
murdered on a hike near Beit Shemesh. But Larry Luken told me that he had to
approach the office for help after he heard about the Koby Mandell Act. Only
when he approached the OJVOT did they work as his liaison.
But here in
Israel – no phone calls. I know nothing about what is going on with my son’s
case. The killers have never been apprehended. In fact, the State Department has
a hefty rewards system, Rewards for Justice, for those who offer information
that leads to the capture of terrorists. 100 million dollars has been given to
70 people who have supplied actionable evidence that has led to the apprehension
But the program has not been activated in
I’m already totally frustrated with the Israeli government and I
know that it’s a problem for Americans to investigate terrorists when the
Israeli government frees them.
But I grew up in America thinking that it
was the land of justice.
My son Koby believed in the American justice
system. I always thought he would be a lawyer one day. As the oldest child, he
always argued for the rights of his brothers and sister.
The OJVOT is
supposed to argue for his rights.
But it doesn’t.
The OJVOT is
supposed to investigate, apprehend, indict, extradite and punish
But not one terrorist here has been prosecuted. Not
At least 54 American citizens have been killed, and 83 wounded here
in Israel. Neither the OJVOT nor the Department of Justice has done anything to
enforce American law in these cases.
The only terrorist prosecuted under
the law was the killer of a Christian missionary in Indonesia. I’m happy that
the killers were prosecuted, but still one wonders. Why is there no
communication, investigation, prosecution, or indictment here in Israel? The
OJVOT is supposed to protect us.
Instead it neglects us.
writer is co-director of the Koby Mandell Foundation, which runs healing
programs for victims of terror and tragedy. She is also the author of “The
Blessing of a Broken Heart.”
See kobymandell.org for more info or email
her at firstname.lastname@example.org