The FBI should investigate the attack on US citizen in Jerusalem bombing - opinion

The FBI announced that it will be investigating the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh but was silent when an American was injured in a bombing.

 POLICE COMMISSIONER Kobi Shabtai (front, right) arrives at the scene of the terror attack near the entrance to Jerusalem, on Wednesday.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
POLICE COMMISSIONER Kobi Shabtai (front, right) arrives at the scene of the terror attack near the entrance to Jerusalem, on Wednesday.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Biden administration’s Justice Department recently announced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the accidental death of an Arab-American journalist in Israel. So why isn’t it investigating this week’s intentional attempted murder of a Jewish American citizen in Israel?

Shireen Abu Akleh, a reporter for the Qatari media agency Al Jazeera, was accidentally shot and killed while covering a shooting attack by Palestinian Arab terrorists against Israeli soldiers in Jenin last May.

The incident has already been thoroughly investigated by the Israeli government, journalists, and so-called human rights organizations. None of the inquiries could determine who actually fired the fatal bullets, nor could they find evidence that the shooting was intentional.

By contrast, the attempt to murder a Jewish American teenager, Naomi Pilichowski, and other passersby in Jerusalem on Wednesday was clearly intentional. Palestinian Arab terrorists planted bombs in two Jerusalem locations filled with pedestrians.

The bombs were packed with nails and screws to inflict maximum suffering on the victims. A  Canadian teenager, Aryeh Shechopek, was murdered, and at least eighteen others, including Naomi Pilichowski were wounded, some of them critically.

 Police and security personnel at the scene of a terror attack in Jerusalem, on November 23, 2022. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) Police and security personnel at the scene of a terror attack in Jerusalem, on November 23, 2022. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

So why the double standard?

Why is the FBI investigating the Abu Akleh case, and not investigating this week’s Jerusalem bombing?

The Department of Justice has not yet commented publicly on its decision to have the FBI enter the Abu Akleh case. A spokesman for the Biden administration’s National Security Council commented by heaping praise on her as “a fearless reporter” and expressing solidarity with the Abu Akleh family. 

US Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) called the FBI investigation “an overdue but necessary and important step in the pursuit of justice and accountability in the shooting death of American citizen and journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh.”

So why isn’t Naomi Pilichowski – the victim of an intentional attempted murder, not an accidental shooting – receiving similar attention?

Why isn’t the Biden administration’s National Security Council expressing solidarity with the Pilichowski family? Why isn’t Senator Van Hollen calling for the FBI to investigate the attempt to murder Naomi?

US law does not restrict the pursuit of terrorists who harm Americans overseas only to those who kill Americans. It also includes anybody who “attempts to kill” a US citizen (18 US Code 2332).

Palestinian Arab terrorists have murdered 146 American citizens, and wounded 204 more, since 1968. Yet, not one of those killers has ever been handed over to the United States for prosecution.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to discuss this matter with senior officials of multiple administrations, Republicans as well as Democrats. The excuses I have heard as to why they don’t pursue Palestinian Arab killers of Americans have ranged from evasive to downright disingenuous.

For example, they have claimed that the US “can’t find” the suspects, even when they are hiding in plain sight, by serving openly in the Palestinian security forces or – in the case of Sbarro pizzeria killer Ahlam Tamimi – hosting a radio show in Amman, Jordan.

US officials also have claimed that nothing can be done because America does not have an extradition treaty with the Palestinian Authority – even though the US frequently arranges for the transfer of criminal suspects from countries with whom it does not have formal treaties.

In fact, the real reason that the FBI is not investigating the latest attempt to murder an American citizen in Israel is the same reason it has never pursued any of the other Palestinian terrorists who have killed or injured Americans: because it would interfere with the administration’s goal of maintaining friendly relations with the Palestinian Authority in order to bring about the creation of a Palestinian state.

The PA will resist any request to hand over killers of Americans, since it regards the killers as heroes. For the United States to pursue justice, it would have to be willing to confront the PA, including putting political and financial pressure on the PA leadership. That would interfere with the Biden administration’s warm relationship with the PA.

And so, justice is sacrificed in order to avoid angering the PA. That’s why the FBI will investigate the accidental death of an Arab-American in Israel who placed herself in a dangerous situation, but not the deliberate murder and attempted murder of Jewish Americans in Israel. That’s why terrorists will be extradited and transferred to the US from around the world – but not if they are Palestinian Arab killers of Americans. And this outrageous double standard will continue until American Jewish leaders make it clear to the Biden administration that they will no longer stand for it.

The writer is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.