By David J. Seidemann, Esq.
It took the jury one-and-a-half days to figure out what President Obama hasn’t been able to figure out in almost six years. Terror has a home address. Lunatics and fanatics do not exist in a vacuum. Both before and after they carry out their heinous acts, they are encouraged and supported by people acting under the color of organized religion and organized governments that are providing material support.
And it’s not about “jobs” and lack of opportunity; the Nazis had jobs. When Obama gives excuses for the terrorists to act, when he justifies their actions even in part, he allows them to camouflage their rabid anti-Semitism and anti-Israel, anti-West, anti-democracy, and anti-humanism doctrine—blaming the victim instead of the perpetrators.
The jury in a verdict that was delivered just a few hours ago got it right. In the case of Sokolow vs. PLO and the Palestinian Authority, the jurors found both entities liable for terrorist atrocities in the second intifada. They did not buy Obama’s reasoning that random acts of violence are committed by random individuals against random “folks.”
Instead, the jury, which was composed of only non-Jews, people who were never in Israel and wouldn’t recognize a single letter from the Hebrew alphabet, rightfully concluded that the mayhem and murder committed in 2004 during the second intifada was a coordinated effort orchestrated and supported by the Palestinian leadership both before and after the attacks.
The International Criminal Court has a problem now, because in a landmark court decision in federal court in New York City, the body (the PA) seeking to bring Israel to the ICC as a purveyor of terrorism has now itself been labeled as such.
A few hours after the verdict, in which the plaintiffs were awarded $655.5 million in damages, I was on the phone with Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, one of the attorneys who represented the plaintiffs: 33 victims of Palestinian terror, representing 10 different families, brutally cut down because they dared to walk freely in their ancestral homeland. She shared with me her enthusiasm as she finally was able to bring some justice to the families of the victims.
This was the first pro-plaintiff victory of this sort in the United States federal court system, a prior case being dismissed on jurisdictional grounds. Ms. Leitner informed me that there are some 20 other anti-terror cases like this one presently pending, 15 or so in Israel and four or five here in the United States.
It is somewhat problematic that just last week a federal court opined that these types of terror cases against the PA might not be best heard in our United States courts. However, since this case was filed in 2004, before the landscape of the PA or PLO’s intertwinement with America changed, this decision should survive the appeals process.
Collecting on the judgment is another story. Assets here and abroad are susceptible to collection. I suggested to Ms. Leitner that the millions of dollars that the PA asserts Israel owes it in tax transfers would be a good place to start. Those funds should immediately be turned over to the victims’ families in partial settlement of the verdict.
For his part, Mahmoud Khalifa, the Palestinian deputy minister of information, remarked that the verdict was simply the “latest attempt by Israel and the United States court system to undermine the two-state solution.”
The verdict made it clear to open-minded people that the undermining of the two-state solution begins when youngsters are indoctrinated to walk into cafés and onto buses in Jerusalem and blow themselves up, taking the lives of innocents with them. Those actions—not the actions taken by a country in self-defense of its people and borders—are what undermines peace.
The plaintiffs presented the case before the jury, showing that these terrorists were recruited with knowledge from the top and were funded before and after. They explained how the terrorists’ families received compensation while the terrorists sat in Israeli jails, and the terrorists were promoted in the Palestinian society after committing their dastardly deeds.
The decision was rendered not too far from the United Nations. Pity the Security Council wasn’t on the jury.
The decision was rendered a few hundred miles from the White House. It’s a shame Obama wasn’t on the jury.
Ms. Leitner told me that there wasn’t a specific piece of testimony that she believes swayed the jury. Rather, it was the collective testimony of witness after witness that made the case. Other cases are on file and others have yet to be filed, says Ms. Leitner, and she hopes today’s verdict will open the door for other such verdicts.
I asked her if she thought this verdict would have any influence on terrorists or the regimes that support them. She said that would be nice, but highly unlikely. Terrorists are not ruled or motivated by rational thinking.
I asked her if she thought this verdict would have any effect on certain politicians who still have difficulty connecting terrorism to its source or to a more formalized movement. She was unsure of that, but I’m not; I’m sure it will have zero effect. The jury in this case used common sense to connect the dots, and common sense is a prerequisite to making the connection. The only other explanation for certain people in the administration failing to reach the same conclusion is that they do not want to reach the same conclusion.
A New York jury sends a message to the world—and perhaps to Washington in particular—stating that we know the source from where terror emanates; one would think that perhaps the leader of the free world would now give audience to one of the only leaders in the world who does get it, who understands how to combat evil, when that leader, Bibi Netanyahu, arrives in Washington next week.
But such an invitation won’t be extended. Because if one wants to ignore all the evidence in the world, he can. A jury of one at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has decided to do so, and he does so with impunity because he actually believes that we are not in danger here. A lone politician believing in the fantasy of lone wolves.
One of the world’s largest nations remains silent as we stand on the precipice of disaster. It is left only to Bibi to speak out and connect the dots for a man in Washington who lives in a dotless world. v
David Seidemann is a partner with the law firm of Seidemann and Mermelstein and serves as a professor of business law at Touro College. He can be reached at 718-692-1013 or firstname.lastname@example.org.