Now the US Courts are evaluating whether or not to throw out the law suits brought by the almost 3,000 victims of Arafat's Terror. The State Department is deciding whether or not it should be protecting Arafat's interests once again.
Will the State Department Side with American Terror Victims or Yasser Arafat?
Andrew C. McCarthy
After nearly 3,000 Americans were murdered in the atrocities of September 11, 2001, President Bush boldly announced that the United States would not distinguish between terror networks and the regimes that support them. They would all be regarded as hostile and dealt with accordingly.
What a sad commentary it is that, less than seven years later, we are left to wonder whether our State Department will stand with the American victims of terror or join forces with the other side: a regime with a long, remorseless record of practicing terrorism, preaching terrorism, and murdering Americans.
In 2002, in the midst of the second Intifada launched by terror master Yasser Arafat in which hundreds were killed, an American citizen named Aharon Ellis was murdered in Hadera, Israel, when Palestinian terrorists attacked during a bar mitzvah he was attending. His widow, Leslye Knox, brought suit on behalf of herself, their six children, and other family members under a federal law enacted by Congress in 1990 to compensate the victims of terrorism.
In 2006, a federal judge entered a judgment ordering the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to pay approximately $174 million in damages.
The PA and PLO are legacies of Arafat. Currently, the PA is led by President Mahmoud Abbas, the protégé who now leads Arafat’s creation, the Fatah party. Fatah’s charter continues to pledge that the organization’s aim is the destruction of Israel. Fatah, moreover, maintains its own terrorist wing, the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, which continue to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel.
Fatah, however, controls only the West Bank. That is because a second terrorist organization sworn to Israel’s annihilation, Hamas, controls Gaza. Hamas was in a position to seize control because, when given an opportunity to vote in a 2006 election, the Palestinian people freely chose Hamas terrorists to run their government. This should come as no surprise: polling demonstrates that an overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people — having been immersed in PA-controlled media and educated in the PA-controlled schools — support the demise of the Jewish state. True to form, once it was victorious in the popular election, Hamas brutally ousted its rival Fatah from Gaza.
Despite the relentless practice of Palestinian terror, and despite the president’s post-9/11 admonition, the Bush administration has foolishly supported Fatah with millions of dollars in financial assistance and weaponry. Indeed, when Hamas captured Gaza, it reportedly seized a trove of American assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, rocket launchers, ammunition and armored personnel carriers from Fatah compounds.
The State Department, which champions lavish U.S. support for Abbas, rationalizes that Fatah is a force for “moderation.” Yet, at a 2007 celebration to honor Arafat’s memory, Abbas urged a throng of 50,000 Palestinians to re-aim their guns at the “occupation” (i.e., Israel) instead of turning them on each other: “Fatah,” he promised, “will not give up our principles and we have said that rifles should be directed against the occupation.... We have a legitimate right to direct our guns against Israeli occupation....”
And just last week, Abbas revealed that his current feint at negotiations with Israel is — like his mentor Arafat’s similar tactics — a strategic pause at best. He explained to a Jordanian newspaper that he was not pursuing “the armed struggle” at “this present juncture” only “because we can’t succeed in it.” He was quick to add, though, that “maybe in the future things will be different.”
Remarkably, Abbas proceeded to brag about the foundational role he and Fatah had played in modern Islamic terrorism. “I had the honor of firing the first shot in 1965 and of being the one who taught resistance to many in the region and around the world,” he recounted. In fact, repeating the familiar use of “resistance” as a euphemism for terror attacks against civilians, Abbas bragged that Fatah “had the honor of leading the resistance and we taught resistance to everyone, including Hizballah, who trained in our military camps.”
Hezbollah, it should be recalled, is the world’s most lethal terrorist organization and, prior to 9/11, had killed more Americans than any radical Islamic faction.
Abbas is currently leaning on his benefactors at the State Department to intercede in the federal court case on behalf of the PA and the PLO, and against the American victims of Palestinian terrorism. By Friday, February 29, the Bush administration must advise the Court whether our government supports the PA’s efforts to overturn the judgment lawfully won by the family of Aharon Ellis.
It must advise the Court whether it believes the Palestinians, who do not constitute a sovereign state, who have never stopped practicing terror, and whose leaders are pledged to destroy Israel, should be accorded immunity — immunity that is reserved under the law only for sovereign states; immunity the extension of which would flout the will of Congress to protect the American people from acts of terrorism.
It is inexplicable enough, after 9/11 and the Bush Doctrine, that our government persists in supporting the Palestinian terror regime — even contemplating that its savage extortion should be rewarded with statehood. But intervening on the PA and PLO’s behalf against American terror victims would be a travesty. It would substantially undermine the credibility of the United States as the leader of the global fight to defeat radical Islam.
The administration must stay its hand, let the legal process go forward, and support justice for the American victims of terror.