The President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, openly praised and glorified a terrorist who brutally murdered my father, Richard Lakin, a dual citizen of Israel and the United States of America.  What follows is an open letter to President Barack Obama.

Dear Mr. President:

On October 13, 2015, two terrorists boarded public bus number 78 in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem and started randomly shooting and stabbing people. My father, Richard Lakin, was shot in the head, and, after he fell to the ground, he was stabbed multiple times in the head, face and stomach. Most of his vital organs were severed. He spent two weeks unconscious in the ICU unit of Hadassah Hospital before he died.

My father, Richard Lakin, was a kind, gentle, loving person.  A retired elementary school principal, and a grandfather of eight. On his website and in his book, Teaching as an Act of Love, Dad described himself in the following words: “Recipient of endless joy from my children and grandkids, and from the smiles, laughter and sense of wonder of the hundreds of elementary school children I had the good fortune to work with as a teacher and principal during the past 40 years.”

My father was a humanitarian, who channeled his efforts into promoting equality. As a young man in the United States, Richard worked to promote civil rights, marching with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., setting up an integrated summer camp and initiating and implementing the integration of the all-white suburban elementary school in Glastonbury, Connecticut where he served as principal. After moving to Israel, my father taught English to Jewish, Christian and Muslim children. Richard was a founding member of several organizations focused on “co-existence,” the word that echoes forever across the banner of his Facebook page.

Richard Lakin was an exemplary citizen of the United States of America.

Bahaa Allyan, one of the two terrorists who murdered my father, posted a call to martyrdom on his Facebook account in Arabic before carrying out the attack, and it went viral. After the attack, YouTube videos of Bahaa Allyan glorying his “act of martyrdom” went viral. A “reenactment” of the attack on Bus 78, praising the attackers for their “great success,” was posted on the Islamic Block — Western Front Facebook page on October 14, 2015, and remains available on YouTube to this day.

Yesterday, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, met with the family of Bahaa Allyan in his office in Ramallah, along with the families of 10 other terrorists who stabbed, shot and murdered Israelis over the past four months. In this meeting, he praised their actions, glorifying Bahaa Allyan, and calling him a holy martyr.

To state it clearly, the President of the Palestinian National Authority praised and glorified the brutal murder of a citizen of the United States of America. My father, Richard Lakin, a kind, gentle, retired elementary school citizen who dedicated his life to education and civil rights.

As the leader of the PLO, President Abbas’s message to all Palestinians is clear: “Go out and murder innocent Americans and Israelis and you too will become martyrs and go to heaven.”

The United States of American cannot stand by idly in the face of such wanton incitement and insult. Words have meaning, and words have impact; particularly when spoken by recognized leaders. Mr. President, the United States must take immediate action. I beseech you to demand that President Abbas: (1) retract his statement; (2) condemn the brutal murder of my father by Bahaa Allyan as an unconscionable act of terror and crime against humanity; and (3) issue a formal apology to my family, and to the United States of America. Mr. President, the message of President Abba’s meeting with the family of Bahaa Allyan is a message of terror — terror aimed directly at American citizens.

Until such time as President Abbas retracts his statements and categorically condemns terror, the United States must recognize President Abbas and the organization that he represents for what they are: inciters and supporters of terrorism against America. As such, the United States should immediately stop all financial support of the Palestinian National Authority. It would be unethical, unconscionable and unconstitutional for the United States of America to fund an organization that openly praises and encourages brutal acts of terror against our own citizens.

Sincerely,

Micah Lakin Avni