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.
Read More →
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. …Read More →
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.Read More →
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.Read More →
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. …Read More →
“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.”Read More →
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.Read More →
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. …Read More →
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.Read More →