More than 600 students from Los Angeles-area Jewish day schools took part in a public assembly in memory of five Jews from Los Angeles who were murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists in Israel.
The assembly, which was held in West Los Angeles on May 6, 2003, was organized by Zvi Smith, a senior at the boys division of the Yeshiva University of Los Angeles High School, who is active in the Greater Los Angeles District of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). This was the third year in a row that the memorial rally was held.
Those participating in the program included Yeshiva University of Los Angeles High School (both the boys school and the girls school); the Maimonides School; the West Valley Hebrew Day School; the Hillel Harkham Academy; and the Emek Day School. May 6 was chosen for the event because it was Yom HaZikaron, the day traditionally reserved on the Jewish calendar to honor those killed by enemies of Israel or the Jewish people.
The memorial assembly focused on five U.S. citizens from Southern California who were murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists: college student Marla Bennett, of San Diego, killed in the July 2002 bombing of Hebrew University; Moshe Gottlieb, a chiropractor from Los Angeles, killed in a June 2002 Jerusalem bus bombing; Mrs. Shoshana Greenbaum, a schoolteacher from Los Angeles who was killed in the August 2001 Sbarro Pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem; 14 year-old Yael Botwin, who grew up in the L.A. suburb of Claremont, and was killed in a September 1997 bombing in Jerusalem; and 19 year-old Yitzhak Weinstock grandson of Rabbi Simon Dolgin, once one of the most prominent rabbis in Los Angeles who was killed in a drive-by shooting near Jerusalem in December 1993.
A total of 39 American citizens have been murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists since the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993, 27 of them since the Palestinian Authority launched the current wave of violence in September 2000.
A close friend of the Botwin family, Mrs. Judy Cohen of Los Angeles, addressed the rally. She spoke in deeply moving terms about the Yael she knew in Los Angeles, of her shining personality and her love of life.
At the assembly, the students recited Psalms and watched a brief videotaped interview of 8-year-old Chaya Schieveschurder, whose parents, two sisters, and younger brother were murdered in the August 2001 Sbarros Pizzeria bombing. The students then launched a mass letter-writing campaign to the two U.S. Senators from California, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, urging them to become co-sponsors of the Koby Mandell Act, which would create a special office in the Justice Department to pursue Palestinian Arab killers of Americans and assist the families of the victims.
The memorial assembly received widespread media attention. Among those in attendance were correspondents for the Los Angeles Times, the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and local television and radio stations (including the citys two leading all-news stations, KNX and KFWB.)
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said: Zvi Smith and his fellow-students deserve the highest praise for their inspiring activism in pursuit of justice for the 39 Americans murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists since 1993. Zvi has set an example that every young Jew should emulate, and we urge Jewish schools around the country to look to the Los Angeles assembly as a model for their own programs focusing on this important issue.
In response to the ongoing murders of American citizens by Palestinian Arab terrorists, the ZOA is strongly supporting the Koby Mandell Act, which was recently introduced in Congress. The Koby Mandell Act would create a special office within the Justice Department which would: gather evidence against Palestinian Arab killers of Americans; arrange to bring the terrorists to the U.S. for trial; initiate negotiations with the Palestinian Authority for financial compensation for victims families; and maintain a liaison with the families to update them on efforts to capture the killers.
The Koby Mandell Act has been publicly endorsed by AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
The legislation has broad bipartisan support in Congress. In the Senate, it currently has 12 sponsors, led by Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). In the House of Representatives, it currently has 34 sponsors, led by Representatives Rob Andrews (D-NJ) and Jim Saxton (R-NJ). (For a complete list of the sponsors, call the ZOA at 212-481-1500.)
The ZOA recently published a powerful new booklet, The Forgotten Victims: American Citizens Murdered by Palestinian Arab Terrorists. It includes biographical entries on Americans murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists and a Killers at Large section revealing the names and, in some cases, the photos of Palestinian Arab killers of Americans who are being sheltered by the PA. For a free copy of The Forgotten Victims, please call the ZOA at 212-481-1500.