In her August 22 op-ed, “Prisoner Release,” Sarah Stern falsely led readers to believe that she was solely or at least primarily responsible for the passage of the Koby Mandell Act, which created an office in the U.S. Department of Justice to capture and prosecute terrorists who have harmed or murdered Americans overseas.
Although Stern worked for the Zionist Organization of America during a portion of this effort, many others at ZOA made this happen. After the passage of this bill, Sherry Mandel, Koby Mandel’s mother, said, “We want to thank the Zionist Organization of America for initiating this fight for justiceâ€¦. Koby would have deeply appreciated this fight for justice by the ZOA.” Stephen Flatow, father of terror victim Alisa Flatow, said, “We want to thank the ZOA for being the only organization to have made this bill and this fight a priority and being relentless in this pursuit of justice.”
The New York Times ran a full article saying that “an intense three-year campaign by Morton A. Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America” was “important” on this issue. ZOA’s campaign included ads in the New York Times and in newspapers around the country, organizing House and Senate press conferences on Capitol Hill, publishing op-eds and letters in newspapers, delivering speeches around the country, discussing the bill on TV and radio, and distributing a powerful ZOA booklet, “The Forgotten Victims: American Citizens Murdered By Palestinian Arab Terrorists.”
As Uriel Heilman wrote in the Jerusalem Post (June 8, 2005), “The ZOAâ€¦spearheaded the drive to get the bill passed last year,” then quoted Morton Klein, president of ZOA: “We had met with many Department of Justice officials and there seemed to be a lack of interest in capturing Palestinian Arabs that murdered Americans. That’s why we decided we really needed legislation.” The Forward wrote (December 17, 2004), “The ZOA achieved one of its top legislative successes with the passage of the Koby Mandell Actâ€¦. Klein initiated the legislation.”
And a key factor in the passage of this legislation was a private meeting between Morton Klein and the late Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a close personal friend of Mort’s, who promised Mort he would personally lead the fight to get this bill passed. Thanks in large part to Senator Specter, President George W. Bush signed the legislation into law as part of the omnibus spending bill in December 2004.
EDITORS’ NOTE: The op-ed came from JNS.org, a wire service, which is responsible for fact-checking the material it sends its subscribers.