Taking the Sponsors of Palestinian Terror to Court

Jan. 26 2016

In 1995, an operative of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) drove a van filled with explosives into an Israeli bus, killing the American college student Alisa Flatow along with seven Israelis, and wounding dozens more. With the help of the attorneys Steven Perles and Thomas Fay, Flatow’s father Stephen sued Iran, the main sponsor of PIJ, initiating a legal battle that went on for over a decade. Convincing a U.S. court to award damages proved relatively easy, but convincing the Clinton administration to pay the damages out of Iranian assets proved nearly impossible. M. R. O’Connor tells the story of the case, and the eventual victory:

Perles and Fay . . . knew that within a few miles of their own offices were three pieces of real estate that no one could deny were Iranian: the embassy chancery of Iran, the residence of the minister of cultural affairs of the embassy of Iran, and the residency of the military attaché of the embassy of Iran. All three had been seized by the State Department on April 7, 1980. . . .

Stephen Flatow’s legal team filed a writ of attachment—a court order to seize an asset—for the properties on July 8, 1998. The next day, at a hearing, . . . they were astounded to see over a dozen government lawyers. The government wanted [the court] to deny the writ. . . .

Perles watched as Flatow’s head sank. He had brought the Iranians to court with the belief that he had the powerful will of President Clinton behind him. Instead it seemed he had now gained a formidable foe, one who was prepared to fight him with all the resources available to his administration. . . .

Some time later, the legal team received a tip from the State Department about an FBI investigation into the Alavi Foundation, a private charity that served as an Iranian front organization; perhaps damages could be awarded from its assets:

Perles and Fay sent a request to the Justice Department: would the government support their arguments about the Alavi Foundation in court? They never got a response.

Flatow saw the silence as a double-cross: they had been led to the Alavi Foundation by the government, which then refused to go the next step and give them proof that would win the case. The proceedings revealed how cautiously the administration was protecting its relations with Iran.

It was not until 2000, after multiple interventions by Congress, that Perles and Fay were able to obtain a settlement for their client.

Read more at Atavist

More about: Bill Clinton, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Law, Lawfare, Palestinian terror


Why President Biden Needs Prime Minister Netanyahu as Much as Netanyahu Needs Biden

Sept. 28 2023

Last Wednesday, Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time since the former’s inauguration. Since then, Haim Katz, Israel’s tourism minister, became the first Israeli cabinet member to visit Saudi Arabia publicly, and Washington announced that it will include the Jewish state in its visa-waiver program. Richard Kemp, writing shortly after last week’s meeting, comments:

Finally, a full nine months into Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest government, President Joe Biden deigned to allow him into his presence. Historically, American presidents have invited newly installed Israeli prime ministers to the White House shortly after taking office. Even this meeting on Wednesday, however, was not in Washington but in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Such pointed lack of respect is not the way to treat one of America’s most valuable allies, and perhaps the staunchest of them all. It is all about petty political point-scoring and interfering in Israel’s internal democratic processes. But despite his short-sighted rebuke to the state of Israel and its prime minister, Biden actually needs at least as much from Netanyahu as Netanyahu needs from him. With the 2024 election looming, Biden is desperate for a foreign-policy success among a sea of abject failures.

In his meeting with Netanyahu, Biden no doubt played the Palestinian issue up as some kind of Saudi red line and the White House has probably been pushing [Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman] in that direction. But while the Saudis would no doubt want some kind of pro-forma undertaking by Israel for the sake of appearances, [a nuclear program and military support] are what they really want. The Saudis’ under-the-table backing for the original Abraham Accords in the face of stiff Palestinian rejection shows us where its priorities lie.

Israel remains alone in countering Iran’s nuclear threat, albeit with Saudi and other Arab countries cheering behind the scenes. This meeting won’t have changed that. We must hope, however, that Netanyahu has been able to persuade Biden of the electoral benefit to him of settling for a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia rather than holding out for the unobtainable jackpot of a two-state solution.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship