Just Say “I’m Sorry”

I ended my earlier blog posting after the historic verdict by a federal court in Brooklyn that found Jordanian Arab Bank Plc liable for knowingly providing financial services to Hamas, with the following hopeful words: Let’s pray that those still waiting for their voices to be heard are indeed heard, and let’s hope and pray those who have perpetrated, abetted, and defended terrorism will take this court decision seriously and finally say, “I’m sorry.”

While these 297 plaintiffs await the next phase of the trial dealing with damages, set to begin in May, for the eleven families at the heart of the most recent landmark terror trial in Manhattan against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization, their voices indeed have been heard. They were awarded $218.5 million in damages which may be tripled under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act. Five U.S. citizens were murdered – David Gritz, Benjamin Blutstein, Dina Carter, and Janis Ruth Coulter in the July 31, 2002 Hebrew University Cafeteria bombing and Yechezkel Isser Goldberg in the January 29, 2004 suicide bombing of the No. 19 bus. A dozen or so others survived with physical and emotional injuries from five other terror attacks in Jerusalem between 2001 and 2004. A total of 33 people were killed and more than 450 were injured in these attacks.

Sadly, the perpetrators, abettors, and defenders have yet to say “I’m sorry.” Defense Attorney Mark Rochon admitted there was “So much sadness and death. All those souls extinguished.” However, he also said these are “things they did for their own reasons… What they did was despicable, selfish” – even though these defendants were shown to have made both prisoner payments and martyr payments to the perpetrators and their families. The Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority had no immediate comment other than that they intended to appeal.

While this latest verdict is another significant step in their emotional journey of healing and trying to make their voices heard, for the survivors and for the families of the bereaved, those two words “I’m sorry” from the perpetrators, abettors, and defenders of these acts of indiscriminate terror might be an important and meaningful message to those so grievously impacted and might provide at least a small amount of comfort to those whose lives have been changed forever. So please just say “I’m sorry.”

About the Author
Zieva Dauber Konvisser, PhD, is a Fellow of the Institute for Social Innovation at Fielding Graduate University. Her research focuses on the human impact of traumatic events, such as terrorism, genocide, war, and wrongful conviction. She served on the National Commission on American Jewish Women and is currently on the international board of the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma and the advisory board of Strength to Strength. She is the author of "Living Beyond Terrorism: Israeli Stories of Hope and Healing" (Gefen, 2014). The book can be ordered here: https://www.gefenpublishing.com/product.asp?productid=1110.
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