OpinionColumn

Why is a Michigan senator ignoring the state’s victims of terror?

I am sure the victims’ families would be very interested in speaking with Sen. Sylvia Santana.

Michigan State Sen. Sylvia Santana. Source: LinkedIn.
Michigan State Sen. Sylvia Santana. Source: LinkedIn.
Stephen M. Flatow. Credit: Courtesy.
Stephen M. Flatow
Stephen M. Flatow is president of the Religious Zionists of America. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995, and author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror. (The RZA is not affiliated with any American or Israeli political party.)

Michigan State Sen. Sylvia Santana has publicly apologized to her state’s Arab community for the “sin” of visiting Israel earlier this month. Her only intention, she pleaded, was “to improve my understanding of matters related to Michigan.”

Well, if Santana is genuinely interested in Arab-Israeli developments that are “related to Michigan,” then she didn’t have to travel 6,000 miles. All she has to do was look in her own backyard—at least four Michiganders have been murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists. I’m sure the victims’ families would be very interested in speaking with her.

Some of the murderers are still roaming free; the victims’ families have not received restitution; and cheerleaders for at least one of the terrorist groups involved in the killings can be found right there in Michigan. Which means that there’s plenty for the senator to do if she’s interested in securing justice for the victims and their families.

On Feb. 23, 1970, Mrs. Barbara Ertle of Grandville, Mich., was murdered by terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). She and her husband, the Rev. Theodore Ertle, were visiting the Holy Land together with other religious pilgrims. Their two children, ages 4 and 7 at the time, were left without a mother.

The PFLP is a member organization of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO, with which the United States has relations. Has Santana ever tried to help the family secure restitution from the PLO?

On June 5, 2001, Yehuda Shoham, just 5 months old, was murdered by Palestinian Arab rock-throwers. Yehuda’s mother is a native of Oak Park, Mich., and some of their family members still live there.

Has Santana ever contacted the appropriate authorities to determine if the killers of baby Yehuda have been captured?

On Sept. 9, 2003, Detroit native David Applebaum, a widely respected rabbi and distinguished emergency-room physician, was having coffee in a Jerusalem cafe with his 20-year-old daughter, Nava. It was the eve of Nava’s wedding. A Palestinian Arab suicide bomber murdered them both.

Has Santana made any effort to ensure that the Applebaums’ killers are brought to justice and that the surviving family members receive restitution? No amount of financial compensation can ever bring back the victims, but a family deprived of its primary breadwinner should not have to suffer further deprivation as a result of a terrorist’s cruel act.

On Nov. 18, 2014, terrorists from the aforementioned PFLP shot and hacked to death five rabbis and an Israeli policeman in a Jerusalem synagogue. One of the victims was Oak Park native Aryeh Kupinsky. He left behind a widow, five children and numerous other grieving family members.

The president of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Birmingham, Mich., told the Detroit News at the time that the Michigan Jewish community was “profoundly saddened by today’s vicious murder by Palestinian terrorists” of the rabbi and the other victims.

Our continued sadness at the vicious murders of Mrs. Ertle, baby Yehuda Shoham, Dr. Applebaum and Rabbi Kupinsky is only intensified by the knowledge that there are groups in Michigan that cheerlead for PFLP terrorists.

Consider the case of the convicted PFLP terrorist Rasmieh Odeh, who murdered two university students in Jerusalem and then fled to the United States. When the Michigan authorities sought to have her deported in 2014, Arab-American groups in Michigan strongly supported Odeh.

Dearborn-based organizations such as the National Network for Arab American Communities, and the Michigan chapters of the Council on American Islamic Relations and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, strongly defended Odeh and demanded her freedom.

Has Santana ever reprimanded these extremists over their cheerleading for a member of a terrorist group that has murdered Michiganders?

In her message begging the “forgiveness” of those who criticized her recent visit to Israel, the senator concluded: “I understand now more than before the level of pain, sensitivity and deep-rooted emotions that this trip has produced.”

I hope Sen. Santana will soon come to understand the pain, sensitivity and deep-rooted emotions of Michigan’s victims of Palestinian Arab terrorism and their families, who seem to have been abandoned by indifferent elected officials.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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