Letter to Editor
Criticism of Congressional Initiatives on Palestinians
As the father of a young woman who was murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists, I am deeply offended by the suggestion made by Thomas Smerling of the "Israel Policy Forum," quoted in a recent Jewish Telegraphic Agency report (Congress' initiatives on Palestinians spur Jewish support - and criticism, Matthew Dorf, June 15), that Congressional legislation concerning American victims of Arab terrorism is part of some sinister plot against the Mideast peace process.
No one ever called me - or, as far as I can tell, any other parent of a victim of Arab terrorism - to discuss the legislation before the motives of those who support the bill were unfairly impugned.
Your readers should know that the Senate legislation (S. 1199) has been introduced by Senators John Ashcroft (R-MO), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL), and Conrad Burns (R-MT). In the House of Representatives, the bill (HR. 2172) is sponsored by the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, U.S. Representative Ben Gilman, and Reps. Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Jim Saxton (R-NJ), Michael Forbes (R-NY), and James McGovern (D-MA). These legislators deserve the praise of every American for their bipartisan effort on behalf of justice for American victims of terrorism.
During the nightmarish four years since my daughter Alisa was killed, my family and I have constantly been frustrated and disappointed at the difficulty of finding out the most basic information about the status of the investigations into Alisa's death. This legislation will help rectify the problem by requiring the State Department to provide congress with regular, detailed reports that will include: updates on the investigations; information on which of the killers are walking free in PA territory and which of them are serving in the PA police force; an explanation of the U.S. position on offering rewards for the capture of Palestinian Arab killers of Americans (as of this writing, no such rewards have been offered), and updates on U.S. efforts to obtain, from the PLO, compensation for families of American victims of Palestinian Arab terrorism.
Will it harm the peace process for Congress, or my family and I, to have this information? Of course it will not. I resent the use of the scare tactic of trying to frighten the public into thinking that peace will somehow be harmed if Congress or the families of the victims are given the information that we are morally entitled to receive.
I find it encouraging that one of the leading Jewish newspapers in the US, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, has strongly endorsed the bill, arguing that "The peace process can only be strengthened by a move toward justice." The Exponent is right. Justice and peace are intertwined. Shame on those who try to sacrifice justice in the name of peace, for how can there ever by a genuine or durable peace unless justice is served?
Stephen M. Flatow
Jersey City, NJ
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