Senator Cruz, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, held his oversight hearing on November 4, 2015. The Senator opened the hearing by highlighting the history of Palestinian and Iranian terrorism against U.S. citizens, relating specific stories about American terror victims, and explaining how the U.S. government has failed to support these victims in their pursuit of justice. The Senator read excerpts from a letter written by Seth and Sherri Mandell, whose son, Koby Mandell, was a U.S. citizen brutally murdered at age 13 by Palestinian terrorists in Tekoa in May, 2001. “According to the Mandell’s, the DOJ’s Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism [OJVOT], which was established in their son’s honor, ‘is supposed to investigate, apprehend, indict, extradite and punish terrorists’ — but it doesn’t,” the Senator stated.
Post-Oslo, the number of American citizens who have been victims of attacks in Israel or the West Bank stands at 63 killed, not including two unborn children, and more than 91 wounded. Between 1969 and 1985, another 28 Americans were murdered.
The Nov. 4 oversight hearing more specifically focused on civil lawsuits directed against Iran and the Palestinian Authority (PA) by American victims of Palestinian terrorism that has been funded by Iran. “While American victims and their families have successfully prosecuted 86 cases against the government of Iran and have been awarded judgments totaling nearly $50 billion, [and] similar victories have been won against the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, the United States Government all too often intervenes in these cases, opposing collection of judgment in the name of diplomacy,” essentially siding with the PA, Senator Cruz added.
Senator Cruz also referenced the recent Iranian nuclear deal – which will provide Iran with up to $150 billion in sanctions relief – as “the worst betrayal of all” to American victims. “Indeed, the Administration has openly admitted that it did not take the terror victims into account at the negotiating table. In litigation, the Administration sides with the terrorist against American citizens, and when negotiating with the Ayatollah Khamenei, the Administration ignores American hostages languishing in Iranian prisons; it ignores the victims of terrorism. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a national disgrace,” Senator Cruz said.
At the end of the hearing, Sen. Cruz and the ranking member of the Subcommittee, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), discussed potential legislation to make civil lawsuits easier for the victims of Palestinian terror.
For well over two decades EMET has been fighting for justice for those Americans victims of Palestinian terrorism in Israel and the disputed territories. In addition to the civil lawsuits discussed in the hearing, EMET has focused on the unwillingness of the DOJ to indict, extradite, and prosecute a single Palestinian terrorist with American blood on his/her hands. This is true even though, since 1991, U.S. law has given American prosecutors the necessary tools to prosecute these criminals, and since 2005, there has been an office within the DOJ – the OJVOT – to pressure the DOJ to prosecute.
EMET founder and President, Sarah Stern was instrumental in the initial creation of the OJVOT in 2005. This DOJ unit is meant to monitor acts of terrorism against Americans outside the U.S., to assist the living victims and their families, and is supposed to pressure the DOJ to bring to justice those terrorists who have harmed Americans anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, since its establishment, the office has helped produce a DOJ prosecution and a conviction in only one case that we are aware of, involving the killing of an American missionary in Indonesia. Neither the OJVOT, nor the DOJ, have ever adequately explained their unwillingness to prosecute Palestinian terrorists.
In the years since 2005, EMET has doggedly beenworking to educate Congress about the DOJ and the OJVOT’s unwillingness to do their job and make surethat any Palestinian terrorist who harms an American is brought to justice. EMET has held a staff briefing on Capitol Hill, bringing in American victims and family members to brief the Congressional staff. EMET has also met with more than 100 offices to explain to them this issue. And EMET has worked with a bipartisan group of House members, and Senators, to produce numerous letters to the DOJ, demanding prosecutions of these terrorists, and also assisted in finding co-sponsors for these letters.
EMET founder and President Sarah Stern praised Sen. Cruz for his oversight hearing, “Sen. Cruz and his Subcommittee should be commended for their efforts to seek justice for Americans who have been killed or harmed by Palestinian terrorists. Ever since Oslo, these victims of terrorism have become the invisible or disposable Americans whom, for political reasons, our government have decided are not deserving of the same justice as any other American citizen who has been killed. Etched on our Supreme Court are the words ‘Equal Justice Under Law,’ but apparently that is not true if you happen to be an American who was attacked by a Palestinian terrorist while living, working, touring or studying in Israel.”
Stern continued, “This is not what America is all about. If the American government thinks that our relationship with the Palestinian Authority is so important that we have to cover up their terrorism, which has resulted in murdered and injured Americans, one has to ask what the value of this relationship is to begin with. The United States needs to seek justice for Americans everywhere, and stop letting the Palestinians get away with murder, which will just encourage more terrorism directed against Americans.”
To view the entire hearing, please click here
The Syrian Chessboard
Letters from Senator Inhofe to Department of Justice Regarding American Victims of Palestinian Terror
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