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February 27, 2015 12:33 am

Palestinian Terrorism Verdict Shatters Long-Held Myths and Illusions

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow /

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In Gedera, Israel, a memorial for Alisa Flatow, the 20-year-old American victim of a 1995 Palestinian terrorist attack by Islamic Jihad. Alisa's father, Stephen, writes that among the shattered myths after Monday's landmark ruling for American victims of Palestinian terrorism is that suicide bombers are "lunatics." Photo: Gilabrand via Wikimedia Commons. – The illusion is shattered. When confronted with claims of complicity in terror attacks, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) can no longer lift their hands and say in puzzlement, “Who, me?”

The jury in the just-decided terrorism case—Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization, which awarded $218.5 million to 10 American families victimized by Palestinian terrorism in Israel—has said the opposite. “Yes,” the PA and the PLO do bear responsibility for the death, pain, and suffering brought about in a series of terror attacks against innocent civilians a decade ago. The myth of PA and PLO innocence has been shattered, I hope for all time.

Some other myths have been shattered, including the myth that suicide bombers are “lunatics”—in the words of Israel’s late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, as he told my wife and I when he visited us in our home a month after Islamic Jihad’s murder of our 20-year old daughter Alisa in April 1995.

A lunatic is mentally ill and does not know right from wrong, or cannot appreciate the consequences of his or her actions. The “lunatics” who carried out Palestinian terror attacks didn’t design and manufacture the bomber vests, or stuff a backpack with explosives and then conduct the attack on their own. The bomber vests and backpacks were designed and made by terrorists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—the last two being the largest groups in the PLO, and the first two aided by the PLO.

The men and women who strapped explosives impregnated with ball bearings, nuts, bolts, and screws to their bodies, and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greater) as they pushed the detonator, fully appreciated the consequences of their actions—they wanted to kill Israelis. As many as they could, in any location they could find. So what if it was a pizza shop, or a bus, or a university cafeteria? So what if an American citizen or an Arab Israeli got caught in the attack? Who cared? They didn’t, and neither did those who recruited them and then drove them to the target.

When the FBI went to Gaza to investigate the murder of my daughter, what cooperation did the PA provide? None. And when the PA had the ability to arrest Alisa’s murderers, what did it do?  Only because it wanted to relieve the pressure America brought to bear, it arrested and then furloughed her killers.

And what else has the PA done to combat terrorism in the years since the 1993 Oslo Accords? It refused Israeli requests, required under the Oslo Accords, to turn over to Israel those Palestinians wanted by Israel in connection with terror attacks. It pays terrorists who serve time in Israeli prisons and send a monthly pension payment to the families of so-called martyrs. It honors the murderers of innocent civilians by naming parks and sporting events after them. It turns a blind eye to those who planned and carried out terror attacks from within PA-controlled territory until the construction of the security fence by Israel put an end to them.

And what will the court ruling do?

First, it will help the Western world to understand that the long-held fiction that the Palestinians are not responsible for their actions must be discarded. He didn’t get many things right about the Middle East, but what Edward Said called the “orientalism” of the West—the treatment of Palestinians as children who did not know better—allowed the PA and PLO to duck from responsibility for terrorist acts carried out under their watch, and worse, with their supervision and/or material support.

Second, it should convince the US government that the victims must be allowed to collect their financial awards. If not out of the of the $400 million in US aid money sent annually to the PA, the reparations should come out of other assets of the PA in the US and assist the victims to reach PA money in Europe.

Third, hitting the PA hard—in the pocketbook—should force the Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, et al., to accept the fact that they cannot continue to pay terrorists sitting in prison or provide stipends to the families of murderers. More importantly, it might force the Palestinians living under their thumbs to say, once and for all time, “no” to the continued sponsorship and glorification of terrorists.

While no amount of money will ever bring back the murdered children, fathers, mothers, and loved ones, nor adequately compensate the survivors, the jury’s message was clear: terrorism has a price, and the terrorists and their sponsors must pay for it—not with lip service, but in hard, cold cash.

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is a candidate on the Religious Zionist slate ( in the World Zionist Congress elections.

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  • mhloutsidebeltway

    Maybe the verdict condemning the PA as a terrorist organization finally will be taken to heart by nearly all of the mainstream Jewish organizations in the US that regularly fall over themselves in calling Abbas a peace partner and constantly urging Israel to give in to his demands to create another terrorist state on the historical lands of the Jewish people.

  • Dante

    Stop any alimentation of terror sponsors NOW.

  • Jack

    Unfortunately Stephen, shattering the myth will fail simply because the PA will continue to lie about it’s motivations and involvement in terror related acts, just like their sponsors.
    The Saud and Irani were all for spreading their terror thru proxies, but in the age of ISIS they find themselves being burned by the fire they created.
    And when the PA joins the International Criminal Court prosecution of the PA and it’s cohort should commence.
    How appropriate, burned by their own fire.
    And Israel soldiers on….

    • Jack

      After all, their nothing but criminals.

  • And where were the British media reports of this landmark decision? NOWHERE!

  • brenrod

    the question is why did they have to wait for the US to do this why didnt the Israeli government and judiciary system do it. In fact these are criminal acts for which Israel could have arrested and put on trial the hierarchy of the PA and then executed them by firing squad or hung them like eichmann. The gov of Israel is foremost the greatest culprit in that it sets the pace for the non delivery of justice to the jewish people. the gov of Israel allows muslims on the mount to harass Jews and obstructs the Jewish people fom settling in YA no less than did Jordan when it occupied YS. Jews are harassed by muslims anti semitic imams in the land of Israel, how can this be possible? the US did what Israel should have done a long time ago. the anti semitism in the world is practiced first in Israel.

  • steven L

    For Europe and many in the US it does not matter. They will continue to support the criminals, the terrorists and undermine Israel. They will not stop their financial and political support to these barbarians. Antisemitism is a lot deeper and more ingrained than anything else.

  • Ivan Gur-Arie

    The courts be damned. The verdict will not make the weak west and the weak US reverse course. They are too invested in selling humanity down the river.

  • Cynthia

    It is comforting to the family of this young and lovely girl who was murdered. Once again they are not suicide bombers, they should be called correctly HOMOCIDE bombers. The people who carry out these incredibly evil events, are fully aware of their faculties in the process of committing murder of as many Jews, Christians and including other sects of the Muslim community. We need to stop pussy footing around, and no longer use the politically corrected terms and phrases for these people:They are murderers, not insane bombers. Please for the love of your people, call them what they are……

    • Efram

      And while we are at it, stop calling it political correctness, as it is not correct at all. Call it, once and for all, by its accurate name: Politically-coerced censorship.

    • adam

      I disagree with the notion of calling them homicide bombers. one can simply set a bomb and leave the scene and it would fit that definition. the term “Suicide bomber” more clearly illustrate the depravity of the act – one willing to kill themselves for a cause in order to indiscriminately kill others. The word is more accurate and has much more impact when understanding the morbid culture which perpetrates such crimes. jut saying.

  • Julian Clovelley

    On this basis surely the Israeli Government should recognise and ratify the International Criminal Court

    • brenrod

      no way, the international court has already proven itself biased by recognizing the PA as a state when it fulfills none of the legal citeria for a state. All the international orgs operate on consensus like the mafia

    • M. Davison

      I think we should wait until the ICC Chief Prosecutor renders her decision on the claim filed by the PA.

      The ICC is an instrument of the UN, whose track record with Israel is highly biased, to say the least. I would take some proof that the ICC is willing to go against the flow of the UN and act objectively before Israel ratifies its participation under the Rome Statute.