Barletta Fights for American Terror Victims

Nov 3, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) recently signed onto a letter to United States Department of Justice (DOJ) Solicitor General Noel Francisco which requests a brief expressing the views of the United States with regards to Sokolow v. Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

“The DOJ should strongly come out in support of American citizens who have suffered from heinous terror attacks;” said Barletta.  “The Palestinian Authority was deemed responsible for attacks against American citizens under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1992, and they should bear the full brunt of American law.  The decision by the Second Circuit to overturn the initial ruling puts more Americans at risk by appeasing groups like the PLO and Palestinian Authority.  Americans need every tool to fight terrorists and their enablers.  I urge the DOJ to stand forcefully behind American victims of terror in U.S. Courts, while we continue to fight for the eradication of terrorism.”

On August 31, 2016, the Second Circuit reached a decision in Sokolow v PLO, a case stemming from the Palestinian “intifada.”  The case centers on seven terror attacks perpetrated between 2001 and 2004.

In one attack, a seventeen-year-old blew himself up at a crowded bus stop in the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem; in another, Hamas operatives detonated a bomb in a Hebrew University cafe; and, in a third, a Palestinian security officer opened fire in a crowded Jaffa mall.  Together, these and the other attacks killed dozens of civilians and wounded scores more, including a number of American citizens.

Benjamin Blutstein, 25, of Susquehanna Township, PA, was killed in the Hebrew University café attack.  Benjamin was in Israel at Pardes Institute, in conjunction with Hebrew University, on a two-year training program to become a teacher of Jewish studies.  He had graduated from The Rabbi David L. Silver Yeshiva Academy, Susquehanna High School, and Dickinson College in Carlisle, where he majored both in religion and Judaic studies.  His family has fought for justice from the PLO since tragically losing Benjamin to terrorism.

In 2004, the families of eleven American victims sued the Palestinian Authority in the Southern District of New York under the civil remedies provision of the Antiterrorism Act.  The provision, passed in 1992, allows “[a]ny national of the United States injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism, or his or her estate, survivors, or heirs” to sue and recover threefold damages in “any appropriate district court of the United States.”

The plaintiffs insisted that the PLO and the Palestinian Authority bore responsibility.  In 2015, after a seven-week trial, a jury found the Palestinian Authority liable for six of the attacks and awarded plaintiffs a $218.5 million judgment, which, when tripled, became $655.5 million.

The case is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read the letter to DOJ, HERE.