On March 21, 2002, Dr. Alan Bauer, a Harvard educated biochemist from Chicago, was walking down King George Street in the center of West Jerusalem, with his seven year son. At 4:20 pm, Mohammed Hashaikah, a 22 year old member of the Palestinian Authority police force detonated himself, killing three people and wounding eighty-one.
The terrorist had been armed and sent directly by the PA. It was ordered by Akrim Rachav Yinis Aweis, a member of their General Intelligence Service, as well as by Nasser Shawish, a high ranking member of Fatah’s Tanzem. The director of Tanzem, Marwan Barghouti, supplied the six hundred dollars for explosive material, and the director of PA intelligence, Tawfiq Tirawi, provided it directly. The General Secretary of Fatah for the West Bank , Hasin a-Sheikh wrote a letter claiming responsibility for the attack.
Alan suffered two lacerated arteries, and underwent six hours of surgery to repair and replace the two arteries in his left arm. His son suffered a shrapnel wound to his brain, and spent the next three and a half weeks in intensive care. He was left blinded in his left eye and with only limited hearing and mobility on his left side. His cognitive status is yet to be determined.
These are the lucky ones. Other Americans, such as Aaron Ellis, a father of six, or Aish Kodesh Gilmore, a father of a one year old, never survived to tell their stories.
According to the 1990 anti-terrorism law, anytime an American has been killed or injured overseas, they or their loved ones have the right to seek justice through the American judicial process.
To date, one hundred thirty six Americans have been killed or injured by terrorist attacks since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the majority through the hands of Fatah. Sometimes, the PA did not even bother showing up in court. In others, the PA did bother appearing, but legitimately lost, through the American judicial process.
These American citizens followed the intent of Congress, utilized our system of justice, and played by the rules. Aside from having to endure shattered lives, and to cope with the trauma of having had lost loved ones, limbs, or organs, these American citizens have had to relive their nightmarish hell over and over in litigation. The P.A. now owes hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments won by American victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel .
The State Department has recently indicated that it is considering supporting the Palestinian Authority by issuing a “Statement of Interest” to the courts, saying that because the US is trying to bolster the economy of the nascent Palestinian state, these judgments should be thrown out. Afif Safiah, head of mission of the Palestinian Liberation Organization has said that “There has been a rethinking in the State Department that I wholeheartedly welcome.”
On February 13, 2008, I was in the room when approximately twenty American victims of Palestinian terror made their case to a number of high ranking officials in the Department of Justice and Department of State. During the meeting, the State Department had said we must bolster Fatah as the moderate alternative to Hamas. I listened as the survivors, one by one, yet again, had to relive their horrific stories. I heard the exhausted voices of invisible, disposable Americans, who felt like pawns in some political chessboard.
Good foreign policy should never be predicated on the obfuscation of justice. If we are, indeed, interested in helping, as President Bush had said in his April 2002 address, to midwife a Palestinian state that will live along side Israel “In peace and democracy,” what sort of message are we sending out to this state, by this blatant disregard of justice?
By abrogating these judgments as well as stated American policy of being either “with us or with the terrorists,” we will be sending out a dangerous mixed message to would-be terrorists around the globe that we are really not all that firm in our resolve, and that terrorism against American citizens is permissible. It will also send a toxic signal to the future governors of this nascent state, that America is willing to tolerate terrorism against our own citizens. This could only serve to weaken our international credibility and to encourage the use of terrorism in the very eyes of precisely those forces around the globe with whom we are at war. As Pope John Paul had said, “There can be no peace without justice.”