Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sokolow case: Palestinian terrorism verdict shatters long-held myths and illusions


Palestinian terrorism verdict shatters long-held myths and illusions

 

By Stephen M. Flatow/JNS.org

 

The illusion is shattered. When confronted with claims of complicity in terror attacks, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) can no longer lift their hands and say in puzzlement, Who, me?

 

The jury in the just-decided terrorism caseSokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization, which awarded $218.5 million to 10 American families victimized by Palestinian terrorism in Israelhas said the opposite. Yes, the PA and the PLO do bear responsibility for the death, pain, and suffering brought about in a series of terror attacks against innocent civilians a decade ago. The myth of PA and PLO innocence has been shattered, I hope for all time.

 

Some other myths have been shattered, including the myth that suicide bombers are lunatics”—in the words of Israels late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, as he told my wife and I when he visited us in our home a month after Islamic Jihads murder of our 20-year old daughter Alisa in April 1995.

 

A lunatic is mentally ill and does not know right from wrong, or cannot appreciate the consequences of his or her actions. The lunatics who carried out Palestinian terror attacks didnt design and manufacture the bomber vests, or stuff a backpack with explosives and then conduct the attack on their own. The bomber vests and backpacks were designed and made by terrorists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinethe last two being the largest groups in the PLO, and the first two aided by the PLO.

 

The men and women who strapped explosives impregnated with ball bearings, nuts, bolts, and screws to their bodies, and shouted Allahu Akbar (God is greater) as they pushed the detonator, fully appreciated the consequences of their actionsthey wanted to kill Israelis. As many as they could, in any location they could find. So what if it was a pizza shop, or a bus, or a university cafeteria? So what if an American citizen or an Arab Israeli got caught in the attack? Who cared? They didnt, and neither did those who recruited them and then drove them to the target.

 

When the FBI went to Gaza to investigate the murder of my daughter, what cooperation did the PA provide? None. And when the PA had the ability to arrest Alisas murderers, what did it do?  Only because it wanted to relieve the pressure America brought to bear, it arrested and then furloughed her killers.

 

And what else has the PA done to combat terrorism in the years since the 1993 Oslo Accords? It refused Israeli requests, required under the Oslo Accords, to turn over to Israel those Palestinians wanted by Israel in connection with terror attacks. It pays terrorists who serve time in Israeli prisons and send a monthly pension payment to the families of so-called martyrs. It honors the murderers of innocent civilians by naming parks and sporting events after them. It turns a blind eye to those who planned and carried out terror attacks from within PA-controlled territory until the construction of the security fence by Israel put an end to them.

 

And what will the court ruling do?

 

First, it will help the Western world to understand that the long-held fiction that the Palestinians are not responsible for their actions must be discarded. He didnt get many things right about the Middle East, but what Edward Said called the orientalism of the Westthe treatment of Palestinians as children who did not know betterallowed the PA and PLO to duck from responsibility for terrorist acts carried out under their watch, and worse, with their supervision and/or material support.

 

Second, it should convince the U.S. government that the victims must be allowed to collect their financial awards. If not out of the of the $400 million in U.S. aid money sent annually to the PA, the reparations should come out of other assets of the PA in the U.S. and assist the victims to reach PA money in Europe.

 

Third, hitting the PA hardin the pocketbookshould force the Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, et al., to accept the fact that they cannot continue to pay terrorists sitting in prison or provide stipends to the families of murderers. More importantly, it might force the Palestinians living under their thumbs to say, once and for all time, no to the continued sponsorship and glorification of terrorists.

 

While no amount of money will ever bring back the murdered children, fathers, mothers, and loved ones, nor adequately compensate the survivors, the jurys message was clear: terrorism has a price, and the terrorists and their sponsors must pay for itnot with lip service, but in hard, cold cash.

 

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is a candidate on the Religious Zionist slate (www.VoteTorah.org) in the World Zionist Congress elections.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rocks kill a child

This is a sad follow-up to a previous post entitled Murder by stoning: Palestinian terrorists’ forgotten weapon in which I discuss the use of rocks and stones as weapons.

Rocks are still being thrown at Israeli civilians in cars and soldiers at "peaceful" demonstrations, more like riots, by Palestinians in the disputed territories.  But a news story from the New York Times brings home the sad fact that rocks do kill.

It's the story of Adele Biton a
4-year-old Israeli girl who was critically injured in a car accident caused by Palestinian rock throwers two years ago died on Tuesday [February 17, 2015] after a severe bout of pneumonia that relatives said was complicated by her neurological trauma.
This should put to rest the lie that rock throwing is not a serious effort to kill innocents.  As

The report can be read here.



Thursday, February 12, 2015

Overlooking a safe haven for Palestinian terrorists

At his confirmation hearings, U.S. Defense Secretary-designate Ashton Carter expressed concern about safe havens for terrorists in Afghanistan, Libya, and Pakistan. Yet for some reason, he neglected to mention the Middle Eastern regime that is one of the worst offenders when it comes to granting safe haven to terroriststhe Palestinian Authority (PA).

Discussing the vacuum that will be left when the last American troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan, Carter testified at the Senate hearings that the Obama administrations counter-terrorism strategy begins foremost with preventing the creation of safe havens for terrorists. 

Carter also expressed concern about the terrorist safe haven in Libya and pledged to hold Pakistan accountable for permitting terrorists to operate from its territory. So when will the U.S. hold the PA regime accountable?

The Oslo Accords (Annex IV, Article 2, par.7f[1]) specifically require the PA to honor all Israeli requests for the extradition of terrorists. During 1996-1998, Israel filed such requests for 36 terrorists. The PA simply ignored them.

PA officials tried to deflect the pressure by claiming the PA itself was  imprisoning the terrorists. This was not a valid legal reason to ignore the extradition requestsbut they hoped to convince Western skeptics that since the terrorists were behind bars, it didn't matter whether they were in Israeli or Palestinian jails.

But it did matter, because the Palestinian jails turned out to be a joke. In March 1998, the Jerusalem Report revealed that the PA constructed an elaborate ruse in its Jericho prison in order to fool a visiting Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official who wanted to see if two particular terrorists were behind bars. The terrorists in question were placed in a cell just before the CIA man arrived. Afterwards, the killers returned to leading normal lives outside the prison walls, where they were often seen at coffee shops and markets in the town, in the company of family members and friends.

Slowly, grudgingly, U.S. officials began to acknowledge the problem. Then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in 1997 that the PA did indeed have a system of revolving-door justice when it came to handling terrorists.

I know something about this first-hand. My daughter Alisa was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. Two of the terrorists who were publicly identified by Israel and the United States as suspects in the attack, Nabil Sharihi and Adnan al-Ghoul, were at one time briefly detained by the PA, and then set free. Three other identified suspects in the attack, Yousef Samiri, Hassan Hamadan, Nasser Hindawi, were likewise enjoying the safe haven of PA territory.

To make matters worse, some terrorist suspects were being rewarded with jobs in the Palestinian Security Forces or other branches of the PA regime. Abd Al-Majid Dudin, a prime suspect in the bombing that murdered Connecticut schoolteacher Joan Davenny in 1995, was appointed as a guard in the very jail where he was supposed to be a prisoner.

There was a crescendo of criticism in 2001. In March of that year, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations urged the Bush administration to put the PA itself on the U.S. governments terrorism list. In April, 87 U.S. senators and 209 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter calling for a reassessment of our relations with the Palestinians, in response to the PAs sponsorship of terrorist attacks and releases of jailed terrorists. In December, President George W. Bush himself acknowledged that the PAs jails have bars in the front and revolving doors in the back.

But then the issue faded from the headlines. Those strongly worded condemnations turned out to be just words, with no follow-up, no suspension of U.S. aid to the Palestinians, no consequences of any kind. When Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died in 2004, a new narrative arose: Arafat had been a bad guy, but his successor Mahmoud Abbas, is moderate.

The truth is, however, that the same policy of sheltering terrorists that began under Arafat has continued under Abbas. The Israeli extradition requests have been ignored. The revolving doors in the PAs prisons have not been replaced with genuine bars. Terrorists still roam PA territory freely. The only difference is that nobody talks about it.

Every once in a while, a little something slips out. Last March, for example, the New York Times published a report about Israeli troops going into the PA-ruled area of Jenin in pursuit of terrorists. The reporter needed to explain why it is that the Israelis, and not the PA police, were doing the pursuing. The reason, she said, was that although the Jenin refugee camp is under the full control of the PA, the Palestinian [security forces] did not generally operate in refugee camps.

The Jenin refugee camp is a notorious hotbed of terrorism. According to the BBC, Palestinians call it the Martyrs Capital and at least 28 suicide bombers came from the camp during 2001-2003 alone. Yet it is what might be called a No-Go Zone for the PA security forces. Jenin is, in other words, the epitome of a safe haven for terrorists.

Americas anti-terrorism policy must be consistent if it is to be effective. No safe havens for terroristswhether in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, or the PAshould be tolerated.

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is a candidate on the Religious Zionist slate (www.VoteTorah.org) in the World Zionist Congress elections.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How to respond to honors for Palestinian killer of U.S. senator’s niece

Did you know that the United States Senate has been underwriting a series of events publicly glorifying a Palestinian terrorist who murdered an American citizenin fact, a senators niece?  Well, it is, and this outrage must come to an end.

The terrorists name is Dalal Mughrabi. On March 9, 1978, she headed a squad of 13 Palestinian terrorists who set out from Lebanon towards Israel, in several small boats. They were members of Fatah, the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). At the time, Yasser Arafat was chairman of the PLO and Fatah, and Mahmoud Abbas was his second in command. Today, Abbas is chairman of the PLO and Fatah, and president of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The terrorists landed on a northern Israeli beach, where Gail Rubin, an American Jewish nature photographer, was taking photos of rare birds. Her work had been exhibited at The Jewish Museum in New York City and other prominent venues. She also happened to be the niece of then U.S. Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-Connecticut).

One of the terrorists, Hussain Fayadh, later explained to the Lebanese Television station Al-Manar what happened: Sister Dalal al-Mughrabi had a conversation with the American journalist. Before killing her, Dalal asked: How did you enter Palestine? [Rubin] answered: They gave me a visa. Dalal said: Did you get your visa from me, or from Israel? I have the right to this land. Why didnt you come to me? Then Dalal opened fire on her.

Mughrabi, Fayadh, and the others walked to the nearby Coastal Road and hijacked an Israeli bus. They murdered 36 passengers, 12 of them children. Mughrabi was killed by Israeli troops. Fayadh survived, was sentenced to life in jail, but was then released in a prisoner exchange.

On May 29, 2013, the Jerusalem Post revealed that Fayadh had been hired as an adviser to Abbas, which means that some portion of his salary comes from the $500 million that the U.S. governmentwith the Senates approvalsends to Abbass PA each year.

Those U.S. funds are also used in part to finance the PAs ongoing public glorification of Mughrabi. The PA has sports tournaments and summer camps named after her. In 2011, the PA established a Dalal Mughrabi Square in the center of its capital city, Ramallah. Official PA television frequently broadcasts programs depicting Mughrabi as a hero and martyr.

Earlier this month, Abbass Fatah organized a public celebration of Mughrabis birthday. The event was broadcast on Fatahs Al-Awdah TV, which is headed by Fatah spokesman Ahmad Asaf. Students participating in the celebration were interviewed for the program. One said this of the killer of Senator Ribicoffs niece, She is our role model, an example for every Palestinian young woman. Dalal did everything we dream of doing. A second student declared, Dalal Mughrabi is inspiring. She inspires us and gives us the strength to complete the journey after her.

The Al-Awdah reporter cheerily added, Martyr Dalal Mughrabi raised the Palestinian flag from the heart of occupied Palestine. On her birthday we renew the promise to her and its fulfillment. Another student then described the work of the Sisters of Dalal Committee, a branch of the Fatah student movement. She was followed by the director of a PA government agency, the Palestinian Poets and Writers Association, who poetically hailed Gail Rubins murderer as the Purple Gazelle, the Flower of the Land. (Translation courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch.)

Here are three steps that the Senate should take in response to this outrageous insult to the memory of one of its members:

1. No U.S. Senator should step foot in Ramallah until the PA changes the name of Mughrabi Park.

2. An amount equivalent to Hussein Fayadhs salary and Al-Awdah TVs annual budget should be deducted from the next installment of U.S. aid to the PA. Perhaps the money would be better spent if it were turned over to the families of Mughrabis victims.

3. The Senate should ask the U.S. Treasury Department to add the officers of Al-Awdah TV and the Sisters of Dalal Committee to the official U.S. list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. The list consists of persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism. Surely someone who publicly glorifies a terrorist qualifies as a supporter of terrorism. The designation would prevent those individuals from entering the U.S. and would freeze any assets they have in this country.

These are, of course, just a few initial steps. Much more can be done. But if nothing is doneif the Senate continues to tolerate this outrageit will send a message to terrorists everywhere that they not only can get away with celebrating the murder of a senators niece, but can even get Senate-authorized funding at the same time.

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is a candidate on the Religious Zionist slate (www.VoteTorah.org) in the World Zionist Congress elections.
 
This article can be read online here.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Terror in France, appeasement does not pay

France has gone out of its way to come to terms with its rising Muslim population.  It has advanced an active foreign policy fighting ISIS in Syria as well as supported Palestinian UN-based attempts to circumvent negotiations with Israel.
At the same time, as a free democracy, France recognizes that free speech, even in the form of cartoons some find insulting, is one of the most valuable rights that a free society has.
Then comes the terror attack in Paris.  This is my latest column.  It can be viewed on-line here.


Paris attack shows Frances appeasement of Palestinians and Islamists failed
By Stephen M. Flatow/JNS.org

Less than three months ago, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that there was a link between Islamist terrorism and frustration over the Palestinian issue. Yet despite vigorous recent attempts by the French to champion the Palestinian cause, Islamist terrorists have just struck in Paris, killing 12 people at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Where did Kerrys theory go wrong?

At an Oct. 18, 2014 State Department event celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, Kerry presented his linkage theory. Discussing the phenomenon of young Muslims flocking to the ranks of Islamist terror groups such as the Islamic State, Kerry said that the issue of Israel and the Palestinians is a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation among Muslims worldwide.

If Kerry were correct, then one would expect the Islamist extremist groups to refrain from harming those who embrace the Palestinian cause. And France certainly has been at the forefront of pro-Palestinian activism, especially in recent weeks.

On Dec. 2, the French parliament voted overwhelmingly to demand that the French government immediately recognize the State of Palestine. Not after negotiations. Not with Israels agreement. Just do it right away, whether the Israelis like it or not. And the vote wasnt even close339 in favor, 151 against.

Four weeks later, the Palestinian Authority presented a resolution to the United Nations Security Council, setting a timetable for Israel to unilaterally withdraw from all of Judea, Samaria, and most of Jerusalem. That is, back to the pre-1967 armistice lines that Abba Eban said would make Israel so vulnerable that it would set the stage for another Holocaust.

That position is so extreme that even the Obama administration, which has not exactly been Israels warmest friend, opposed the resolution. Yet France joined with those stalwarts of reason and democracy, China and Russia, to support the resolution. Frances ambassador to the United Nations, explaining his countrys vote in favor of the resolution, said there was an urgent need to act.

One would thinkif one subscribed to the Kerry Linkage Theorythat Islamist extremists would have appreciated Frances sense of urgency regarding the Palestinian issue. But evidently not.

In the meantime, there was more pro-Palestinian news from France. The city council of Aubervilliers, which is a suburb of Paris, voted to grant honorary citizenship to Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian terrorist leader who is currently service five consecutive sentences of life imprisonment for carrying out a series of terrorist attacks in Israel.

Not many Americans have heard of Aubervilliers, but those who are familiar with the history of World War II may know the name of the city's most famous and longest-serving mayor: Pierre Laval. His 19 years as the leader of Aubervilliers was interrupted when he was called to national serviceas the head of Vichy France and chief collaborator with Adolf Hitler. It was under Laval that more than 77,000 Jews were deported from France to Auschwitz and other death camps.

But why dredge up old history, when there are fresh victims to memorialize? One of the attacks that Barghouti masterminded consisted of gunning down a Greek Orthodox monk. Another was a shooting and stabbing attack on a Tel Aviv restaurant, in which three Israelis were murdered and 31 wounded.

Frances national government was not responsible for the decision of Aubervilliers to honor a mass murderer. But when combined with the French parliaments vote on Palestinian statehood, and the French governments vote at the U.N., one would think that this French bear-hug of the Palestinians would impress the Islamists. The massacre of journalists in Paris by killers shouting the jihadist call of Allahu Akhbar indicates that perhaps the linkage that Kerry imagines is nothing more than thatimaginary.

Appeasement of terrorists never works. Endorsing terrorists political demandssuch as Palestinian statehoodnever satisfies them. And blaming Israel for the rise of terrorist groups is an outrageous theory that has been repeatedly discredited by real-world events.

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is a candidate on the Religious Zionist slate (www.VoteTorah.org) in the World Zionist Congress elections.