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Department of Justice has failed victims of terrorism

On Nov. 19, 2015, 18-year-old Boston native Ezra Schwartz was murdered by Palestinian terrorists while on a gap year program in Israel. His uncle, Peter Schwartz, testified before Congress on Feb. 2, 2016, alongside other victims of Palestinian terrorism in front of the Oversight Subcommittee on National Security of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The hearing, titled “Seeking Justice for American Victims of Palestinian Terrorism in Israel,” was called to order by U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL).

DeSantis, committee chairman, was made aware of the Department of Justice’s failure to prosecute Palestinian terrorists with American blood on their hands by the Endowment for Middle East Truth, a Washington, D.C. based think tank and policy shop. EMET’s founder and president Sarah Stern played a large role in creating the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism inside the DOJ. Stern helped pass the Koby Mandell Act in 2004, which required the DOJ to create an office to assist U.S. victims of overseas terrorism and pressure the DOJ to prosecute the terrorists that harmed Americans overseas; the OVT was subsequently established the next year. 13-year-old Israeli-American Koby Mandell and his friend Yosef Ishran were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in May 2001 while hiking in Israel. Their bodies were so disfigured that dental records were needed to identify the boys. Their killers have yet to be prosecuted by the DOJ.

Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, more than 64 Americans not including two unborn children have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists in Israel and Judea and Samaria. Over 10 years have passed since the founding of the OVT and as DeSantis stated in his opening comments, “[The] DOJ has not been able to site one example for this Committee of even a single terrorist that has been prosecuted in the United States for any of the [more than] 64 attacks against Americans in Israel…This is not what Congress intended… this does not provide the justice to the victims’ families that has been so tragically elusive.”

Along with Peter Schwartz, Arnold Roth, whose 15 year old daughter Malki was murdered by a Palestinian suicide bomber in Jerusalem in 2001 and Sarri Singer, who was injured in a suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem in 2003, were witnesses to the failure of the DOJ to prosecute the terrorists who had altered the course of their lives. Representing the DOJ at the hearing was Brad Wiegmann, the deputy assistant attorney general, National Security Division. Wiegmann read a laundry list of heartfelt sympathies to the victims of terrorism surrounding him, but then excused the OVT and DOJ from prosecuting Palestinian terrorism specifically, because “Israeli authorities have successfully investigated and prosecuted many individuals in connection with terrorist attacks that have harmed Americans.” In other words, the OVT does not have to do its job because someone else will, in this case, the Israeli government.

The intended purpose of the OVT is to pressure the DOJ to prosecute all terrorists who harm Americans overseas, regardless of whether or not the governments in question are capable of doing so.

This is all the more baffling considering that the act that propelled the office into existence was named after an American murdered in Israel, the very government that Wiegmann mentioned “[Has] a very capable and effective and aggressive prosecution regime, so a lot of those cases, prosecutions were brought by the Israelis and that’s the same as we would do here.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), took issue with Wiegmann’s justification for the DOJ’s inaction. “So as long as the Israelis do it, you’re fine?” he asked Wiegmann, who responded, “I’m just saying that if the Israelis were to sentence the attackers in that case to life sentences or adequate terms of imprisonment, that’s a way to protect our national security.” This raised some eyebrows in the room. Meadows then asked, “Who determines what’s adequate?”

Schwartz commented that while the U.S. government has been sympathetic to his family in expressing their condolences, “We are not aware what, if any, U.S. actions have been undertaken to investigate this case.” This is unacceptable. Sympathy is not enough. According to U.S. law, Americans are guaranteed certain rights and this includes seeking justice of any terrorist that harms them oversees.

The Department of Justice has failed the American people and specifically American victims of Palestinian terrorism. But thanks to EMET and some very courageous congressmen, these victims finally got their first day in court.

 

Originally published at: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/florida-jewish-journal/opinion/fl-jjps-schneider-0217-20160216-story.html

 

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The President Is Still Wrong About the Iran Deal

In his 2016 State of the Union speech, President Obama claimed that his grand strategy of creating a global coalition, implementing sanctions, and then negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran will “prevent a nuclear-armed Iran” without resorting to war. Unfortunately, nothing in this statement is actually true.

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Obama ignores Israel and Jews

While The New York Times and The Washington Post hailed the dramatic release of Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini , Nosratollah Khosravi and Matthew Trevithick, one American — former FBI agent Robert Levinson — was left behind. It is not without irony that the one left behind is Jewish, as this is emblematic of President Barack Obama’s utter disregard for the Jewish state and its legitimate concerns for survival during the nuclear negotiations with Iran.

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Entities behind Iranian ballistic missile tests to be delisted by the JCPOA

On July 14, 2015 the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was announced between the P5 + 1 and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The document outlined the terms of the deal, which included some incremental dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program, and in return provided billions in released frozen funding to Iran and a waiver of many international sanctions on its nuclear program. This 159-page document contained a “Specially Designated Nationals” (SDN) list of pages and pages of individuals and entities that will be relieved from previously instituted nuclear sanctions. A majority of those listed on the SDN list will be delisted after Implementation Day. Most disturbingly, among those that will be delisted are a number of entities that are instrumental to the development of the Iranian ballistic missile program, and involved in the two recent ballistic missile tests that Iran conducted which violated international law.

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Sleeping Through the Shiite Wakeup Call

This week, while all of us were still reeling over the events of San Bernardino, word got out on Tuesday that Iran had launched yet another missile test. The missile, a Gahdr-110, a medium-range ballistic missile that has a range of 1800 to 2000 kilometers, or 1200 miles, was launched on November 21st is the second test since agreeing on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, (JCPOA). The first was launched October 21st.

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Killing Over Cartoons Is Totally Rational, Says John Kerry

“There’s something different about what happened [in the November 13, 2015 Paris terror attacks] from [the January 7, 2015 terror attack targeting the French magazine] Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, November 17, 2015

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The Syrian Chessboard

Exactly 21 years ago, in November, 1994, during the heady days of the Oslo Accords, I cut my political teeth working against the stationing of U.S. troops on the Golan Heights. This seemingly innocuous move on the part of the American government under President Bill Clinton was in actuality a ruse to sweeten a bitter deal for an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan. I had the honor off working very closely with what the columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak ad called, “Likud’s Gang of Three”, Yoram Ettinger, Yossi Ben Aharon, and Yigal Carmon.

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Thinking it through: What if Saddam had survived in power?

There are essentially two pertinent questions when considering what the Middle East would be like if the United States had not invaded Iraq in 2003:

1) in a hypothetical world where the U.S. did not invade and occupy Iraq in 2003, would the Islamic State or ISIL exist?;

2) and overall, in such a hypothetical world, would the Middle East be a more peaceful, a more democratic, and a more pro-American place today?

Logically, there are a number of different potential scenarios for Iraq in this theoretical world. Saddam Hussein could have continued to rule securely over Iraq from 2003 to 2015. This may be referred to as the “Strong Hussein” scenario. Or, Saddam Hussein could have continued to rule over Iraq from 2003 to 2015, but in a weakened state. This may be called the “Weak Hussein” scenario. Or, Saddam Hussein might have been ousted sometime during the past twelve years – a “Hussein Free” scenario, which could, in turn, have lead to a vast number of alternative possibilities. Each of these situations should be assessed separately.

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Credit where credit is due: Bush toppled Saddam, Obama gave rise to a genocidal nightmare

In December of 2011, President Obama chose to remove all the American troops from Iraq to keep his campaign pledge. He did this in opposition to the desires of the Iraqi government, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, American military commanders, and many of his own cabinet, including Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

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A Generation too Late

Never in my entire life have I ever wished this hard that I, together with a tiny group of co-activists, would have been wrong all along. We would all prefer to look like the biggest damned fools in the world than to face the horrific situation currently being played out on the streets of Israel.

For the last two decades, I and a small handful of others have spent countless hours on Capitol Hill, talking to members of Congress and their staffers about the relentless, steady stream of incitement vilifying, maligning, demonizing and dehumanizing the Jews, coming from the top of the Palestinian Authority leadership down since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

Unfortunately, there have been times when we have had to battle the more established, wealthier, “mainstream” American Jewish organizations, who wanted to sweep this critical issue under the rug.

The Palestinian body politic has been waging this bloodthirsty campaign for over two decades. It has seeped into UNRWA textbooks; it is in the mosques, in school plays, in summer camp pageants, in Palestinian Authority-controlled television stations, radio stations and newspapers, and all over social media.

Until very recently, when I brought this issue up in meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill and requested that aid to the Palestinian Authority be conditioned on an end to incitement, the response I would usually get was, “We can’t interfere with the domestic affairs of the Palestinian Authority,” or “We can’t dictate how they chose to educate their children.”

And now there is blood running through the streets of Israel. Arabs armed with butcher knives, meat cleavers and hatchets have struck at Israelis in buses, train stations and the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beit Shemesh, Raanana, Efrat, and anywhere a Jew may be found.

This did not just occur spontaneously, out of a vacuum. Ever since the Oslo Accords were signed, the Palestinian people have been hearing a steady and constant campaign of incitement, using every means not only to vilify, malign, demonize and slander the Jews, but to teach the Palestinians that some day all of Israel will be Palestine. An entire generation has grown up steeped in this steady stream of hatred.

Things have gotten so bad that even the New York Times on Friday ran a story about the popular music sweeping through Gaza, Judea and Samaria and among the Israeli Arab Israeli population, with lyrics like “Stab the Zionists and say God is great'” and “Let the knives stab your enemy.”

Israel has faced many challenges in its 67-year history, but what is so unique about the current situation is the utter unpredictability of the violence. Israel’s borders are porous and even some Israeli Arabs and Bedouin who live within the 1967 lines strongly identify with their fellow Arabs and join the Palestinian cause to eradicate the Jews from “Palestine.” These days, when Israelis leave the house for work or school, they simply don’t know if they will return.

On Sept. 30, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the United Nations Security Council, saying that Israel has destroyed the foundations of the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

“As long as Israel refuses to cease settlement activities and release of the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners in accordance with our agreements, it leaves us no choice but to insist that we will not remain the only ones committed to the implementation of these agreements. Israel has destroyed the foundations upon which the political and security agreements are based,” Abbas said.

“We therefore declare that we cannot continue to be bound by these agreements and that Israel must assume all its responsibilities as an occupying power, because the status quo cannot continue.” At that point, Abbas declared the Oslo Accords dead.

Just one day later, the current round of violence began. A young couple, Eitam and Naama Henkin, were driving home from a class reunion when they were brutally shot by terrorists at close range, murdered in cold blood in front of their four young children who were sitting in the back seat of the car.

Over the last few weeks, attacks have been occurring on a daily basis, claiming at last count 11 Israeli lives, with more than 80 injured. I am very sad to report that this is not the end of it. This has been the intifada of the knife attacks. There is a popular video of an imam from Rafah (translated by MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute) that shows him wielding a butcher’s knife with a 6-inch blade as he gives a fiery sermon at his mosque: “My brothers in the West Bank, stab. My brothers in Jerusalem, stab, stab, stab the Jew.”

A baby born in Gaza at the weekend was named “Knife in Jerusalem” by the proud parents.

What makes this round of violence so very difficult to combat is that it has taken on all the passion and fervor of a religious war. As in the 1929 riots in Hebron, the Palestinians have circulated the vicious and wholly fallacious canard that the Jews are planning to destroy Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims after Mecca and Medina.

The Israel Police, in one of the most ironic twists of history, have been safeguarding the Palestinians and their right to pray on the Temple Mount while forbidding Jews from praying there. If a Jew is caught silently moving his lips in prayer, he is promptly whisked off the Temple Mount by Israeli police. This is an attempt to mollify Muslim fears, or their excessive paranoia, that the Jews were taking over Al-Aqsa.

In fact, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently expressly forbade his cabinet ministers from even visiting the Temple Mount, so as not to inflame the situation. As most of you know, as soon as the Old City of Jerusalem was liberated during the 1967 Six-Day War, General Moshe Dayan, in a supreme act of humanity, handed the keys to the Temple Mount over to the Jordanian Waqf.

So sensitive is the situation that Netanyahu agreed to install surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount. Since the 1967 war, the status quo has been that Arabs have unfettered access to Al-Aqsa. Over the past year, more than 4 million Muslims have come to worship on the Temple Mount. Meanwhile, 200,000 Christians and 12,000 Jews were allowed to visit but not to pray. However, a current, fallacious blood libel is being promulgated through imams in mosques, Palestinian Authority-controlled television and social media, that the Jews are planning to take over Al-Aqsa and destroy it.

Abbas contributed greatly to this modern-day blood libel by saying recently that “Al-Aqsa mosque is ours. They [the Jews] have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. Every shahid [martyr] will be in heaven, and every wounded person will be rewarded, by Allah’s will.”

Last week, the Palestinians used their seat in UNESCO, the U.N. scientific, educational and cultural organization, into which they were admitted in 2011, to work together with the six other Arab member states to float a one-sided resolution condemning Israel for the current violence, and saying that the most revered site for Jews, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, is part of Al-Aqsa.

The resolution also makes false and inflammatory claims solely condemning Israel for what it calls “Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against the freedom of worship and Muslims’ access to their holy site, Al-Aqsa mosque,” and “firmly deplores the continuous storming” of the mosque compound by “Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces.”

Calling it incitement to violence, UNESCO Director General Irena Bokava and U.S. State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez strongly bashed the draft text of a resolution that seeks to reclassify the Western Wall as a holy Muslim site. The U.S. warned that the resolution threatens to alter the status quo of holy sites such as the Temple Mount, where the Western Wall — the most sacred prayer site in Judaism — is located. The United States, Britain, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany and the Netherlands voted against the resolution.

Although this resolution is non-binding, it did say that the Cave of the Patriarchs, where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were buried, and Rachel’s Tomb, are holy sites only for Muslims.

Another sacred site was torched recently — Joseph’s Tomb, in Nablus.

All of this is part of the Palestinian effort to erase Jewish and Christian roots from the land of Israel and to rewrite history to eradicate the traces of Judaism and Christianity from the land of Israel.

At an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council last week, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power uttered the usual bromides condemning “the cycle of violence on both sides,” refusing, as is the custom of the Obama administration, to distinguish between the arsonist and the firefighter.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry justified the violence, saying there had been a recent “massive increase in settlements” — a statement that is patently false — and that “now you have violence because there’s a frustration growing” — again, patently false.

First of all, growth in settlement activity has greatly slowed in comparison to any similar period since the 1967 war. Secondly, but much more importantly, the West is doing the Palestinians an enormous disservice by excusing and justifying their heinous behavior. Excuses give them license to behave with brutal barbarity, and condemn both Palestinian and Israeli children to early graves.

In reality, this violence has absolutely nothing to do with frustration or diminished hopes of statehood among the Palestinians. It is not the result of a strategic foreign policy decision with a clear objective. It is the logical result of a constant and steady drumbeat of Palestinian incitement, waged to hate and to kill the Jews, that has been metastasizing throughout the body politic of the Palestinians for over two decades. It is pure, simple, unadulterated Jew hatred.

If there is any goal, it is simply to gain attention on the world’s stage while world leaders seem to be engaged in more important matters, such as the Iranian nuclear bomb, and to gain license to go on a killing spree of Jews.

Meanwhile, we can be sure that Kerry, who is headed to the region, will not let go of his stubborn clinging to the single-factor analysis of the problem and his certainty that all of this violence would simply go away in a two-state solution.

The good news is that on Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing and voted unanimously to cut American aid to the Palestinians until all incitement stops. The bad news is that it is coming at least one generation too late.

Originally published at https://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=14163

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