April 13, 2024
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Flatow Asks Democrats to Take a Stand on Palestinian Terrorism

Over the past 50 years, more than 140 American citizens have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists. However, not a single terrorist has been transferred to the United States to face prosecution and, in fact, many are harbored and even honored by the Palestinian Authority. Stephen Flatow is out to change that.

Taking the opportunity of the Democratic Party’s national convention later this month, Flatow seeks to bring this issue to the forefront. He is working to encourage the Democratic Party Resolutions Committee to formally request that these terrorists be brought to the United States for prosecution. Flatow, past chair of the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, and Isaac Blachor, vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, have drafted a petition that has been signed by Jewish communal leaders, rabbinic leaders, lay leaders and others urging the Democratic National Committee to take notice, and action.

“It is painful that the US is quick to recognize the murder of Americans overseas, except when it comes to those murdered in Israel and the territories,” said Flatow. “We think the Democratic Party platform at the convention should address this.”

Flatow, whose daughter Alisa was killed in a terrorist bus bombing in 1995, has made it his personal mission to see the country of Iran pay for sponsoring the terrorists who carried out this attack. As an attorney, he decided to take action through the legal system, challenging the Justice Department, the State Department, the courts and some of the world’s largest banks as part of his efforts. Despite many setbacks, all of them temporary, Flatow persevered and ultimately prevailed. A court ruled against Iran, awarding the Flatows $26 million in compensatory damages and over $200 million in punitive damages.

However, as his goal in this endeavor was never money, Flatow and his wife started a foundation in their daughter’s name, its purpose being to sponsor young Jewish students seeking to study in Israel. At the time of her murder, Alisa was taking a semester off from her studies at Brandeis University and studying in Israel. This is one of many ways in which the family has chosen to honor her memory.

Flatow has taken his zeal and determination and channeled it toward other causes close to his heart, motivated, as always, by his eternal love for his daughter. For example, he has become a proponent of organ donation within the Orthodox community, an issue that originally presented itself during Alisa’s final hours. The Flatow family was encouraged by doctors to donate her organs, but they believed the practice to be forbidden by Jewish law. After consulting with rabbinic authorities, they were assured that pikuach nefesh (saving a life) should take precedence over all else, including the sanctity of the body after death. Encouraged, they consented to the organ donation, and are now encouraging others to do the same.

Given this year’s hotly contested election season, Flatow is currently focusing his efforts on advocacy. He and Blachor drafted the petition, which has, to date, been signed by approximately 200 community leaders, urging “the Democratic Party Resolutions Committee to include a plank in this year’s platform acknowledging the murder of 140 Americans by Palestinian terrorists; asking Mahmoud Abbas to transfer suspects in such attacks to the United States for prosecution; urging Palestinian leaders to expel and ostracize factions involved in violence against Americans; and calling for the removal of Dalal Mugrahbi’s name from public places and events in Palestinian Authority-controlled regions.” (Mugrahbi was a Fatah terrorist who was responsible for the murder of Gail Rubin, niece of US Senator Abraham Ribicoff, in 1976, and the PA has named streets, parks and athletic tournaments in her honor.)

According to Flatow and Blachor, obtaining the committee’s support is vital in continuing the efforts of the US Jewish community to support the State of Israel. “Our community urges American Jews to visit and study in Israel. Surely we must speak out when those tourists and students are harmed,” they wrote in a letter to community leaders, seeking support for their petition.

The seeds for this petition began germinating in Flatow’s mind four years ago, during the last Democratic National Convention. It was at that time that the party’s lack of support for Israel became juxtaposed in his mind with the Democratic party he remembered from his childhood.

“Eleanor Roosevelt working to get Israel accepted into the UN. That was the Democratic party that I grew up with. We must bring back the Democratic party to where it belongs, and having a plank is long overdue,” Flatow noted. “The issue has to be addressed and the convention seems a good time to do it.”

With that thought firmly planted in his mind, Flatow reached out to Blachor. “Ike is a longtime Zionist activist, the kind of man who for years has put his words into action. He is a backer of Jewish rights around the world. I hoped his being part of this would afford me some credibility, rather than just coming from the father of a murdered girl,” he added.

Together, the two men drafted the petition and sent out hundreds of solicitation emails seeking signatures. “We reached out to rabbis, other religious leaders and lay leaders, and asked everyone to forward the email to others,” Flatow said. “I’m still getting responses on a daily basis, some of which have been heartwarming.”

Responses are coming in from leaders in the Jewish world of all denominations. Flatow continued, “This is a social issue, we are not discussing points of Torah law. This is an area that should unite us, and it’s working.”

The petition, sent last week via email to the co-chairs of the Resolutions Committee, has not yet received a response, but Flatow’s hope is that “as the email is floating around it will land on the desk of someone who can help.” For the families of the Americans murdered in Israel and the territories, that time can’t come soon enough.

By Jill Kirsch

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