Wednesday, August 05, 2015

05-Aug-15: Power, powerlessness, justice, injustice

The engineer of the massacre that took our daughter's life: This picture,
syndicated by Corbis, is the only photographic record of the woman being
in a court house. But it's not connected to her trial for multiple counts 
of murder. This court is in Jordan's capital city. The photo 
was published on the day she was honored there, in a court reception, 
for her heroism, her grand achievements, and the glory she brought
to her people. [Check it out: Image Source]
Experiencing the death of a loved one at the hands of ideology-driven killers is a multi-stage exercise in learning about powerlessness and impotence.

Fourteen years (today) after being initiated into the "circle" very much against our wills and without the faintest awareness ahead of time that it was going to happen, we know a lot about the experience and the inexpressible pain it brings. Also the intense frustration.

We were not there next to our child to keep her safe when the chief plotter and her human bomb made their way together into Jerusalem, into the very center of the city. We were completely unaware that the police and the military knew in advance that it was happening and chose not to cause alarm by making a public statement. We were not present in the ruins of the pizzeria, nor in the ambulance, nor in the hospital: our Malki, just 15, surrounded by people living and not living, died alone.

We read about the arrest and the trial of the woman who engineered the massacre of children via the news media. And about her conviction and about her sentencing. Government officials of course knew. No one felt the need to inform the victims.

For years, long before it happened, we feared that the chief plotter of the Sbarro massacre, a woman who was 21 years old when she executed her satanic plan on behalf of the Islamist terrorists of Hamas, was going to be freed long before completing the 16 terms of life imprisonment to which the three-judge panel in a court had sentenced her. (The sentence came with a sincere-sounding judicial recommendation to the government that no consideration ever be given to commuting her sentence or including her, specifically her, in any future political deal). But we did not know this when it happened. It was only much later that we got our hands via unofficial channels on the court protocol. It has never been officially published.

Then just as we feared, the plotter of our child's violent death was indeed included in an insane transaction that secured her return to freedom and more terrorism. Of this, we were given 48 hours notice (thanks to the thoughtful intervention of the then-head of the Pardons Board), in accordance with a cruel and inhumane law that ensures no citizen can ever stand in the path of such crazy deals. We arranged a petition in hours, and secured nearly 10,000 signatures. Sadly, none of the government ministers whom we approached was willing to meet with us or to receive it.

And even after she walked free - exultant, triumphant, to the cheers and adulation of untold thousands - we learned via the news channels but not from our own government that she was going to be united in Jordan with the cousin to whom she had become engaged (probably without ever having met him) a decade earlier in an Israeli prison, He, a convicted and unrepentant murderer like her, had been freed in the same appalling human-trade transaction. But unlike her, the commutation of his sentence was conditioned on his remaining within the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority until the government of Israel decided otherwise. She was "exiled" to her homeland, Jordan, where all her family lived and lives. (Some "exile".) This meant they could never meet.

Despite our frantic efforts to prevent the Israeli-imposed condition of his release being breached, he walked across the bridge into Jordan in 2012. This happened while we, powerless to do anything more, waited at the door of the highest court in our land seeking urgent legal intervention. ("Oops", our lawyer was told in a phone call from government officials as we waited. "It appears he crossed the bridge already.")

There are only two things, in our experience, that provide some degree of counter-balance to the frustration, the marginalization, the humiliation, of the process we just described. One is to seek justice via the courts. The other is to conduct our own lives along principles we, and not the public officials around us, define for ourselves.

In pursuit of justice, people living in free societies who have suffered injury (in the broadest sense) can turn to the courts of law. Justice in the democratic tradition can be demanded by making a claim that is adjudicated for or against those who seeks the legal system's remedies. And once ordered, it can be enforced via processes defined in and by every jurisdiction in its own way and true to its own traditions and beliefs.

We are not personally involved in litigation now under way in a United States court of law. But the direction it is suddenly taking has gotten our attention, and has us deeply concerned - and angry.
Lawyers for the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority will urge a judge to overturn a jury verdict that awarded $218.5 million to 10 American families whose relatives were killed in shootings and bombings in Israel more than a decade ago. Attorneys for the families say if the damages are sustained, they would automatically triple to $655.5 million under a 1992 U.S. anti-terrorism law. The hearing is before U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan. The case is Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization, Southern District of New York, No. 04-00397. [Reuters, July 27, 2015]
A day after that report, there's this update, again via Reuters:
...The U.S. Department of Justice disclosed its potential interest in the case in a letter filed Monday in Manhattan federal court, six months after 10 American families won a $655 million verdict against the PLO and Palestinian Authority. If the Justice Department filed a so-called statement of interest, it would mark the U.S. government's first formal role in the diplomatically sensitive lawsuit, which was filed in 2004. The Justice Department said it would decide by Aug. 10. A spokeswoman declined to comment.
And now this clarification of what the US may be seeking to achieve:
The U.S. government is moving closer to intervening in a high-stakes civil case over deadly Palestinian terror attacks as officials met Tuesday with victims' families to discuss concerns over a jury verdict worth hundreds of millions of dollars... The meeting with representatives from the Justice and State departments came amid objections from a lawyer for the plaintiffs, who said the United States was "considering putting a thumb on the scale" because the Palestinian government opposes the jury verdict... The Justice Department, at the urging of the State Department, is likely to file a statement of interest in the case soon that asserts the importance of victims' rights but that also urges a judge to keep in mind potential economic and national security ramifications... In a letter this week to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the victims urged the government to stay out of the dispute... ["US likely to intervene in Palestinian terror case", Associated Press via SFGate, August 4, 2015]
Fox News quotes families of the terror victims saying the jury has spoken, and note (as we have pointed out in the past concerning the PA's cash-rewards-for-terror scheme, funded almost entirely by mostly-unwitting European tax-payers governments) that
the PLO and Palestinian Authority pays stipends to the very terrorists and their families who carried out the attacks... [Fox News, August 3, 2015]
In fact, it continues to do this day after day, right up until today.

In February 2015, a federal jury in this important law case determined that the PLO and the Mahmoud Abbas-controlled Palestinian Authority were liable in relation to six shooting and bombing attacks in and near Jerusalem during 2002, 2003 and 2004. Two of the attackers were found to be Palestinian Authority police officers. The PA’s military intelligence office was found to be tightly involved with one of the human bomb attacks, including preparation of the explosive device. And PA police and security officials confessed to taking part in a 2004 human bomb attack on a bus which cost the lives of 11 Israelis, and 50 injured.

And let's not overlook that in each of these attacks,
the Palestinian Authority paid the families of suicide bombers [a common but misleading euphemism for human bombs] and those later jailed for their participation in the attack. [Fox News, August 3, 2015]
The intervention of the US government in this civil litigation has significance that goes well beyond the facts of the case itself. The message, if it is delivered in the way we fear, will serve as a further encouragement to the Palestinian Arabs' self-destructive embrace of lethal terrorism as a key component of its foreign policy and of the educational culture of its emerging generations. What could be worse?

The message it sends to the victims of terror is unmistakable, and needs no further articulation from us.

We mentioned about how there are only two things that ordinary people (we're ordinary people) can do to counter-balance the imposed powerlessness that comes from inhumane public policies and foolish government decisions. The law option, as we have just noted, remains shockingly prone to decision-making interference by civil servants and elected office-holders even in societies which place justice at the top of their value systems.

But the second option, the one that involves living our lives in accordance with principles we define for ourselves remains, for the most part, untainted by the outside interference of policy-making officials.

On this, we urge readers to learn more about the really fine work of the foundation we created as a memorial to the beautiful life of our daughter, here.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for all the work you do on this blog, it does so much to educate us. ICUC-ME posted a remembrance to Malki here:

This Ongoing War said...

Thank you, Ithaca.