The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) announced on Thursday that 52 Members of Congress have recently co-signed a bipartisan letter, authored by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), to Attorney General Eric Holder on the failure of the Department of Justice to prosecute Palestinian Authority Arab terrorists who hurt Americans.
EMET said in a statement on Thursday that the letter calls for “prompt and meaningful steps to enforce provisions of United States law” regarding Americans killed or maimed by PA terrorists. The letter notes in particular the release of terrorists by Israeli authorities during the Gilad Shalit deal who were responsible for the murder or grievous bodily injury of Americans.
The letter particularly focuses on the Department of Justice’s Office for Justice of Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OJVOT), which was formed in 2005 to “ensure that the investigation and prosecution of terrorist attacks against American citizens overseas remain a high priority within the Department of Justice.”
In 2004, the U.S. implemented the Koby Mandell Act, named after 13-year-old Koby Mandell, an American citizen who was killed by Arab terrorists in Wadi Tekoa in May of 2001, along with his friend Yosef Ishran.
The Koby Mandell Act stipulates that the American government must pursue anyone who has murdered an American citizen in an act of terror.
EMET noted that the Berman-Walsh letter expresses concern over the failure of the OJVOT to achieve its objectives and says, “Of the seventy-one cases of terror attacks resulting in American casualties in and around Israel since the signing of the Oslo Accords, the Department of Justice has never indicted, extradited, or prosecuted a single Palestinian terrorist…The number of American victims of attacks in Israel stands at 54 killed and 83 wounded. Neither the OJVOT nor any other section in the Department of Justice has, to our knowledge, done anything to enforce applicable American law in these cases.”
The letter contains with it an appendix listing several cases of American victims whose were killed or injured by Palestinian terrorists released under the Gilad Shalit prisoner release.
A copy of the letter, including the list of all co-signers, can be found at: http://emetonline.org/images/uploads/pdf/walsh_berman.pdf
Sarah Stern, founder and president of EMET said, “We are enormously pleased by the wonderful response the Berman-Walsh letter has received from members of Congress. The failure of the Department of Justice, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, to meet its obligations to pursue justice for terror victims is deeply troubling, and we’re hopefully that this letter, and future congressional oversight on this issue will provide the impetus necessary for the Justice Department to do the right thing.”
EMET has led a coalition of like-minded organizations, including the International Israel Allies Caucus Foundation, Z-Street, and the National Conference on Jewish Affairs (NCJA), to educate members of congress on the plight of American victims of Palestinian terrorism and the duties and responsibilities of the OJVOT.
“This letter really represents a first step,” said Stern. “We’ll continue to push to insure that the DOJ receives proper congressional oversight, and that these victims receive the justice they deserve.”