Jewish Journal


September 11, 2007

San Diego Jewish family wins verdict against Iran


Five years ago Marla Bennett a 24-year-old Jewish graduate student from San Diego was killed with 8 other students by a bomb placed by Hamas terrorists at the Hebrew University’s cafeteria in Israel. Her grief stricken family refused to give up and decided to file suit against Iran’s government for their financial support of Hamas who perpetrated the cold blooded murder of their innocent daughter. Yesterday, the Bennett family finally received justice when U.S. Federal Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington D.C. ruled in their favor and ordered Iran’s government to pay them roughly $13 million in damages. “The plaintiffs should be praised for their courageous and steadfast pursuit of justice through legal means. This noble effort is made even more so when contrasted with the heinous and brutishly unlawful acts undertaken by the defendants and the individuals they support,” stated Lamberth in her decision to award the Bennett family damages against Iran’s government. While the Bennetts may have won the case against Iran, being able to collect the money may be limited as there are only a few frozen Iranian assets in the U.S. which they can tap into since other plaintiffs have also been successful in winning damages in their cases against the Iranian government.

In my opinion Lamberth deserves high praise for her brave stance and decisions as a member of the U.S. judiciary in the cases she’s heard regarding the Iranian government. On September 7th, she also awarded $2.65 billion to the families of the 241 U.S. service members killed in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut Lebanon. Lambreth gives hope to victims of Iran’s reign of international terror that while justice may not be immediate it does arrive in due time.

Iranian Jewish vicitims of Iran’s terror have also followed the same path taken by the Bennetts. Last September the families of 12 Iranian Jewish vicitims wrongfully imprisoned in Iran filed a federal suit seeks to collect damages from former Iranian President Mohhamad Khatami. The suit holds Khatami responsible for the kidnapping, imprisonment and disappearance of Jews imprisoned by Iran between 1994 and 1997. “Why is the world so silent? Why are Jews so silent about the plight of Jews being held captive in Iran?” Elana Tehrani, a victim’s mother asked a crowd during a speech at the Nessah Center in Beverly Hills last September.

My article about the Iranian Jewish families suit against Khatami can be found here.

Israeli attorney of Iranian heritage Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, along with Shurat HaDin, an Israeli organization that gives legal aid to terror victims, have been at the forefront of bringing more than two dozen lawsuits over the past several years against terrorist organizations and states sponsoring terrorism. Shurat HaDin has also successfully collected on judgments from suits brought against U.S. banks holding funds used by Palestinian terror groups. Darshan-Leitner and other American attorneys have been handling the case of the 12 missing Iranian Jews that is still pending in federal court.

Under the Federal Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act, non-U.S. citizens are able to to sue foreign governments in American courts. In addition, the 2002 Terror Risk Insurance Act permits U.S. terror victims to be paid the frozen assets of terror sponsoring states. In March of this year, B’nai Brith Canada filed suit against Iran’s current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejhad for incitement of genocide against the Jewish people in a Federal Canadian court. The suit also calls on the Canadian government to ban Ahmadinejhad’s entry into Canada.

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