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September 16, 2015 6:30 am

Obama Gives Palestinian Killer of Americans a Mere Slap on the Wrist

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow / JNS.org

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Barack Obama. Photo: White House.

President Barack Obama. Official White House photo by Pete Souza.

JNS.org – The Obama Administration announced Sept. 8 that it is putting Mohammed Deif and three other Palestinian terrorists on its “designated terrorists” list. That’s basically a slap on the wrist — for someone who should be subjected to U.S. prosecution, not U.S. name-calling.

Deif was trained in the art of bomb-making by the infamous Hamas leader Yehya Ayyash, nicknamed “The Engineer.” When Ayyash was killed in 1995, Deif was chosen as his successor.

Deif then masterminded bombings in which hundreds of Israelis, as well as a number of Americans, were murdered. His victims included Jewish Theological Seminary student Matthew Eisenfeld and his fiancé, Sara Duker, and Ira Weinstein, killed in a Jerusalem bus bombing on February 25, 1996; the American-Israeli soldier Nachshon Wachsman, who was kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian terrorists in October 1994; and teenager Yitzhak Weinstock, grandson of Los Angeles rabbi Simon Dolgin, who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in December 1993.

In the aftermath of the 1995 bus attack in which my daughter Alisa was murdered, I participated along with various Jewish leaders in numerous conference calls meetings with Clinton administration officials. Each time, we raised the issue of Americans who had been murdered by Palestinian terrorists. We repeatedly implored the administration to seek Deif’s extradition to the United States.

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I have not forgotten President Bill Clinton’s high-profile visit to Nachshon Wachsman’s grave during his March 1996 trip to Israel, when he dramatically promised Nachshon’s parents that the administration would “make it a top priority” to capture Deif.

In fact, Martin Indyk, who at the time was the U.S. ambassador to Israel, even put that promise in writing. In a letter to the Wachsman family dated March 26, 1997, Indyk wrote that “the arrest of Muhammed Deif (sic)…remains a high priority for the U.S. Government.”

I suppose we were naive to think that either the president or the ambassador was being straightforward with us. We all received the equivalent of a splash of cold water in the face on Dec. 19, 1997, when Secretary of State Madeleine Albright took part in a conference call with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. She was asked why the administration did not demand that the Palestinian Authority (PA) hand over Deif, since he was being sheltered by the PA. Albright replied that she did not know who Deif was.

Either she was being honest and did not know who he was, which was bad enough; or she was being disingenuous and did not want to acknowledge that the administration simply had no intention of ever taking any steps that would displease its PA friends.

In the years to follow, Deif’s name surfaced in the news from time to time. In May 2000, for example, the Israeli media reported that he was in the PA’s “protective detention” in order “to protect him from the Israeli Shin Bet security service.”

At that point, the Conference of Presidents went on record as demanding that “the United States pursue the extradition of Mohammed Deif, who is currently being held in ‘protective detention’ by the Palestinian Authority….We believe the extradition of Deif and his prosecution in this country will send a clear message of determination both in regard to the war against terrorism as well as the commitment to protect American citizens at home and abroad.”

Strong words. But the only way to see such words translated into action is to repeat them, again and again, at every meeting with every U.S. official — to put it on the official Jewish agenda and never take it off. That didn’t happen.

Deif went on to become a leader of the Hamas forces in Gaza, and has played a central role in the rocket attacks that have terrorized Israel throughout the past decade.

The Obama administration, like the Clinton administration, would like to pretend that since Deif is in Hamas-ruled Gaza, there is nothing that can do except this week’s milquetoast decision to put him on the “designated terrorists” list. All that does is freeze his assets in America and prohibit Americans from doing business with him. Big deal. Does anybody believe Deif is stupid enough to have assets in America, or that there are Americans doing business with him?

Putting him on the “designated terrorists” list is a toothless gesture that will have no effect on Deif. The administration should be taking concrete steps to extradite him to the U.S. to stand trial for murdering American citizens.

How could President Obama facilitate that goal? By announcing that the U.S. will no longer ask Israel to ease up on its blockade of Gaza until Deif is handed over. That the U.S. will not criticize any Israeli military strikes on Gaza, so long as Deif is still hiding there. That the U.S. will call on the international community to withhold humanitarian aid from Gaza until Deif is extradited.

Putting Deif on a list is worse than useless; it’s an insult to the memory of the Americans he murdered. Instead of putting him on an American list, the Obama administration should be working to put him in an American prison.

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Michael Fox

    Imagine an acknowledged super socialist (a democratic freedom of religion, communist)is actually a strong viable Democrat candidate running for President of the United States. How deep into the abyss we have fallen. The backbone of the American economic skeleton (the middle class) has been crushed forcing this majority population down into the upper lower class…a place where dispirited dependence thrives. The growing welfare state is President Obama and the Democrat’s solution to climb out of the US monumental 18.6 trillion dollars of debt. Magically, they believe prosperity will be the reward of this failed socialistic system that lacks a single anywhere, anytime success story of support.

  • Dear PM Netanyahu, please consider that the HATRED of President Obama is extremely dangerous.
    So the question is: “To meet or not to meet?”.

  • Myron Slater

    I have been a supporter of President Obama and voted for him in both elections. I am upset that nothing has been done to punish those responsible for attacks on Americans. My admiration for him has been diminished by him not taking decisive action.

    • President Obama said: “I hope that the world will remember me with love.”
      Sure, Iran and ISIS most of all will deeply regret the end of his presidential mandate.

      I believe that the world will remember him with love if he gives back his Nobel Peace Prize.

    • Sharon Bolling

      So we have people like you who have no discernment to thank for the spirit of Jezebel that has been in our White House for going on 7 years now. May YHVH forgive you for what your shortsightedness has done to this country, Israel, and the rest of the world. Obama TOLD you himself before he was elected the first time: if he was forced to choose, he would always take the side of the Muslims. Didn’t you believe him? HELLO — they want to eradicate all Jews and Christians, dude.

  • Lauren Goldman

    Just like the U.S. ‘keeping an eye on’ the Kansas City shooter, or imams preaching murder in the radical mosques. Seems that ‘keeping an eye on’ people results in other people getting killed. Those imams preach jihad every week, but everyone is so afraid of damaging muslim sensibilities that they are free to recruit at will. I suppose that the government is ‘keeping an eye on’ the sleeper cells extant in our country.

    How a sleeper works is; they are given a specific act to carry out when ordered to. They blend in with their communities, raise families, are on PTAs, just like the average person. But when they get The Call, they will fulfill their mission; whether it is to blow themselves up in a suicide bombing, gunning down people or any other pre-arranged terrorist act. People are going to be rudely awakened when jihad begins in earnest in this country.

  • Congratulations, Mr Deif, for using the Obama administration so easily to your own purposes.

    • It is known that every leader of a country – and much more that the U.S. President – leaves his mark on his SPECIFIC period of tenure in office.

      What characterizes President Obama’s term is a great “effervescence” of the Islamic EXTREMIST movement that began under the beautiful name of …!

      Does anyone wish TO VENTURE to explain this Truth, which cannot be challenged?

  • art

    The Flatow family is a treasure that must be appreciated. Stephen was/is a highly respected attorney. Alisa was a beloved graduate of Brandeis/ Their treatment by Clinton/Obama is disgraceful. The presidents just plain lied to the bereaved families and did nothing. It also shows, yet again, why we can not rely on third parties to secure our future or safety

  • nelson marans

    President Obama is a hypocrite. While voicing support for Israel, he has done his best to insure its demise. History will judge him harshly for what he has done. Any Jew who contributes to anyone associated with him or generally to the Democratic Party is an idiot. The only exceptions are funds for democrats who voted against the Iran accord.

  • Atilla

    I look forward to the day I read the headline ” Obama is dead “.

    I hope it is a slow, painful and violent death.

    • Because the American people have already offered President Obama TWO terms in office, I think that they deserve a BONUS of another four-year term in office for President Obama, 2016-2020..!

  • Emanuel

    Look out fake American president is a pig it’s the American way but he isn’t american just a sack of crap.

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    Appeasement and milquetoast action vis-a-vis a murderer who has sought haven in a terrorist enclave and attempted to murder and murdered from that enclave is, unfortunately, what Clinton and Obama have demonstrated in their respective presidencies. There simply is no courage and resolve in their words and their words are weakly supported by meaningful action. Whether it is the total abandonment of Rwanda by Clinton or the paltry effort Obama has been making by merely bombing Islamic State, both presidents have not shown any American dignity in their poor concern for horrible human indignities abroad whether they be against vulnerable foreign states or American citizens in foreign lands. Mr. Flatow’s suggestions as to how Obama might rightfully demand the extradition of Mohammed Deif to stand trial on American soil will undoubtedly and sadly fall on deaf ears.

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