The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations today reiterated its strong support for Stephen Flatow, father of Alisa Flatow, of blessed memory, who perished in a bus bombing perpetrated by a suicide bomber in Israel in 1995. As Mr. Flatow appears today before the House Judiciary Committee to testify in support of the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act (H.R. 3485), we remember our shock and anger as we learned of Alisa’s tragic untimely death.
The Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, legislation that would allow the victims of terrorism who prevail in court to recover the frozen assets of terrorist countries, was introduced by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) in the Senate and by Representative Bill McCollum (R-FL) in the House. Under the 1996 Anti-Terrorism law, American victims of terrorism have been able to sue foreign state sponsors of terrorism in U.S. courts. While victims of terrorism have won judgments in court against terrorist nations, they have not been able to recover their judgments. Countries such as Iran, Cuba, and others which sponsor terrorism have some assets in the United States which are frozen by the Treasury Department. In 1998, Congress enacted a law removing protection for these frozen assets but the administration exercised a waiver in that legislation in the case of the suit brought and won by Stephen Flatow. The horrific bus bombing which took Alisa’s life was perpetrated by terrorist organizations that are trained and funded by Iran.
We believe that victims of terrorism should not have to wait years for closure in their court judgments. This dilutes the deterrent effect of American anti-terrorism laws and sends a message that rogue states can support and perpetrate acts of terrorism all around the world without paying the price.
Alisa Flatow’s family deserves justice having successfully sued Iran, the sponsor of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad which carried out the bus bombing in 1995 that killed Alisa Flatow. Groups such as Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hizbollah are henchmen of the Iranian extremist regime and seek not only the destruction of the State of Israel but also to install terror in the hearts of those who cherish freedom and democracy all over the world and in those who do not agree with their religious or political views. Iran and other states that sponsor terrorism must learn that they cannot support acts of global acts of terrorism with impunity.
The Orthodox Union strongly urges the House to do its utmost to pass the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act (H.R. 3485) as soon as possible. By supporting the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, America can help achieve another victory in the battle against the spread of international terrorism and in the protection of the values and the principles that we hold dear.