The international conference for terror victims
Maria Otero, US undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights kicked off counter-terror forum.
Maria Otero Photo: REUTERS
As was reported yesterday in this paper, at the Global Counter-terrorism Forum’s
High-Level Conference on Victims of Terrorism on July 9 in Madrid, Spain, Maria
Otero, the US undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human
rights kicked off the forum, speaking on behalf of the State Department and
Ms. Otero praised the UN-sponsored organization called
the Global Survivors Network and mentioned a film it had produced that included
the stories of victims of terror from 11 countries. Guess what country is not
included in the organization? Guess what country is not included in the film?
Israel. Guess whose victims’ rights aren’t being addressed? Israelis.’ And who
else’s? Americans murdered by terrorists in Israel.
Center founder Rabbi Marvin Heir was quoted in The Jerusalem Post saying the
forum “excluded the country with the most expertise in dealing with
The State Department’s decision to exclude Israel from the
forum reinforces the movement to delegitimize Israel, as well as the suffering
of Israelis and Americans, Jews and non-Jews, who have had their lives destroyed
by terrorists in Israel.
America colluded with Turkey in appeasing the
The undersecretary’s speech is appalling in another way. She
touted four areas that the United States believes should be part of a
comprehensive strategy for governments to address the needs of international
terror victims’ rights:
• Governments should provide information and resources –
medical care, psychological services as well as legal representation.
Terror victims should have the opportunity to participate in the accountability
process, including access to the court proceedings, so that the victims may work
toward psychological recovery.
• The government should support families’
efforts to bring terrorists to justice, both as witnesses and advocates for
• There should be an environment of support and recovery
for terror victims with the opportunity to meet other survivors and share
experiences as each person advances in his own healing.
THESE FOUR areas
were all supposedly addressed in the Koby Mandell Act, named after our son Koby,
who was stoned to death by Palestinian terrorists in 2001 when he was 13 years
old. The Act directed the US government to provide information, resources, legal
representation and accountability to the families of Americans murdered by
terrorists in foreign lands.
The law mandated that the Department of
Justice establish an office to pursue terrorists who murdered American citizens
in Israel and other foreign countries. Named the Office of Justice for Victims
of Terrorism, the unit was supposed to advocate for victims of terror such as
ourselves. It was supposed to do everything the undersecretary espoused in her
But the office has never done anything to prosecute Palestinian
The Koby Mandell Act’s feeble execution has become a source
of psychological pain, rather than an aid to our recovery.
the past few years the families of Americans murdered by terrorists in Israel
have been at the forefront of the fight to fulfill these goals. And we have been
fighting alone, without government support. In fact, in most cases we have been
fighting against the American government.
For example, for the past 10
years, the organization we established, The Koby Mandell Foundation, has been
running programs that the bring Israeli terror victims, many of them American
Israelis, together to aid and promote sharing and healing. In fact, 400 children
are now experiencing the healing power of a therapeutic community at Camp Koby
in the northern Galilee.
Since last February, the Global Terrorism Forum
has included international terror victims in their preparations. As Otero told
them in her speech: “Over the next several days, we will deliberate how states
can increase their support of victims of terrorism, and how we can better
integrate victims into the global effort to counter extremist
We have a suggestion that might help meet Otero’s goal:
start by inviting Israeli victims to the table. Our experience and expertise can
add immeasurably to the discussion. If the Global Survivors Network won’t invite
Israelis, the US State Department has an alternative – as the major sponsor, it
can pull the plug.
Rabbi Seth Mandell and Sherri Mandell are the founders
of of the Koby Mandell Foundation. Sherri Mandell is the author of The Blessing
of a Broken Heart, which won a National Jewish Book