Bus flipped by tractor in Jerusalem terror attack..
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
When I went back to pick up my son on King George Street after a Palestinian policeman had detonated a five-kilogram bomb strapped to his body, I did not know if our boy was still alive. He wasn’t moving. He was face-down on the sidewalk and surrounded by smoke and destruction. One of the three Israelis killed that late afternoon just stared out nearby from his blackened face. I mistakenly thought that he was the terrorist, so I started cursing him.
In March, we will mark 17 years since the attack in which a young couple, she pregnant with twins, was murdered along with the fellow with the eyes staring out to nowhere. Outwardly, we have recovered. Internally though, the memory is still fresh. One reason is that we can’t find closure. Like Groundhog Day, each day is the same thing. Every time we try to put the bombing behind us, it comes back and rears its ugly head.
In 2004, we joined 10 other families to file the lawsuit known as Sokolow v. PLO under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). In early 2015 we had our day in court – and won. A $655.5 million judgment was entered against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the PLO. They were found guilty by a New York jury on 24 counts in less than two days of deliberations.
John Kerry, the only human being with more hair outside than firing neurons inside, could not sit still. The idea of the PA having to pay a massive sum and pretend that it would be forced to go out of business (and Hamas would take over! Or worse, the Israelis would take over!) was too much for him. So, he came in on the side of proven terrorists and begged the court to allow the murderers to pay a token appeals fee; the court was equally terrified of Palestinian insolvency (amazing how they bought a $55 million private plane for their president at the same time), that it agreed. Our venue moved over a couple of streets to the Second Circuit where the appeals court said that the Palestinians were not “at home” in the US and thus could not be sued. I am always happy when terrorists are not in my home but in this case, it meant that our verdict was thrown out. That was a real bummer. Next stop – the US Supreme Court.
We applied for “cert” and the Court asked the new Trump administration what it thought about our case. We foolishly took it for granted that the America First administration would encourage the Court to hear our case as the right of Americans to seek justice as enshrined in the ATA was truly at stake. The scuttlebutt was that the initial statement prepared for the Court encouraged the latter to take the case. Then magically the document actually filed by Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the court to skip it, which it gladly did. Bummer #2.
Our lawyers were not deterred. They marshalled the true friends of American terror victims in the US Congress and succeeded in passing the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) that made any group receiving US aid and/or having an office in the US “at home” for the purpose of terror litigation. This law passed unanimously in both houses and after proper vetting was signed by President Trump in late October of 2018. Then all hell broke loose.
The Palestinian leadership (a true oxymoron) threatened that if it did not receive $61 million in “security cooperation” money from the US government, it would stop cooperating with Israel, and you know what that means? The world will end. The dupes over at the State Department and the press bought it hook, line and sinker. Articles screamed that if the Palestinians received the money, ATCA will force them to pay “hundreds of millions of dollars” to those awful terror victims. The new law would ruin Mideast peace. But it was all “fake news.” The law would require the Palestinians to accept jurisdiction, something that they have been avoiding for 20 years. They have always claimed their innocence and they have one of the most prestigious law firms in Washington representing them. What could go wrong? Are they afraid that they might be found guilty again? So, like a spoiled child reared on expensive gifts, the Palestinians dashed off a letter refusing to take any more American largesse and then sent copies to all of the relevant media outlets to show how angry they were. How dare the Americans demand responsibility in exchange for hundreds of millions in annual aid!
We now have Mike Pompeo mimicking John Kerry and begging Congress to destroy the ATCA, which only three months ago was passed and signed by his boss. You have Bibi and his US ambassador pushing Congress to cripple the law as well. A three-star American general was dispatched by David Friedman– who is the first ambassador since the bombing who has refused to meet us – to convince the Congress that if that Palestinians are forced to follow US law and possibly pay the American citizens whose loved-ones they maimed and murdered, World War III will be at the front door. And for what? To shill for the PLO? To provide money to the same “security” folks who tried to kill me and my son? That’s what American generals do in their spare time? Instead of telling the Palestinians to settle with fellow Americans, Pompeo and his thugs at State are cajoling senators to give money to people who gleefully murdered Americans. In the indictment against the Palestinian intelligence officer who sent the aforementioned Palestinian policeman to blow himself up on the busiest street in Jerusalem, the latter was exhorted to “kill Jews, even just one” after he was taught how to detonate the bomb provided by the office of the Palestinian intelligence agency.
So the good guys are the ones paying terrorists in Israeli jails, and the bad guys are American terror victims who would like to finally put this chapter of their lives behind them. It is our hope that Congress will stand up to the State and Israeli bullies and tell them that the ATCA stays in place and the time has come for the Palestinians to learn the first lesson of earning the right to a state: taking responsibility for their actions. The time has come for them to pay up. Bibi and Pompeo could not care less if we never received a penny because it was not their child face down on the sidewalk. Maybe when they pick their loved one off the street, they’ll remember how they tried to shaft those who came before them. Maybe all of those free cigars Bibi received from his billionaire pals have gone to his head. Pompeo also seems to have lost his mind. Shame on “leaders” who can’t tell the difference between terrorists and their victims.The writer was born in Chicago and lives with his family in Jerusalem. He is chief scientist of Lishtot Detection, Ltd.