I have disconsoling news for the families of the five American victims of Wednesday's terrorist bombing at Hebrew University: The U.S. State Department is not on your side.
I know this from bitter, bitter experience. Palestinian terrorists killed my son Koby, a U.S. citizen, on May 8, 2001. He was 13.
Koby was out hiking with his friend Yosef. The terrorists took rocks and bashed in my son's skull, then smeared the boys' blood all over the walls of a cave where the bodies were later found.
The State Department is now offering information about a reward for Koby's killers. But State seems to prefer that no one find out about it.
In 1994, State began Rewards for Justice, a system to help catch terrorist who kill Americans abroad. It promises up to $5 million -- up to $25 million for information related to 9/11.
But State, eager to tread the illusory path of Middle East peace, doesn't want to catch all terrorists. Since the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords, Palestinian terrorists have killed 36 Americans. But until last year, the Rewards for Justice program totally omitted Americans killed in Israel.
Even now, State does almost the least it can. The program's Web site, for example, has only one page translated into Arabic. That page focuses on the al Queda killers, not Palestinians.
The department assures me that it is working on the translation. But the site has been up for six months already. Surely it can't be that hard to do a translation.
And the Internet is the only way a Palestinian can found out about these rewards.
In Bosnia, NATO helicopters have dropped leaflets -- translated into the local language -- in search of war criminals. America has air-dropped leaflets in Afghanistan, and publicized rewards on matchbooks in Pakistan.
After the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the United States sent multilanguage leaflets worldwide, offering to pay for information. (They used matchbooks then, too.)
The Rewards for Justice site notes that ads publicizing the program "in English, Arabic, Spanish, French, German and Russian have appeared in publications as far ranging as The New York Times, Al Hayat, Paris Match, Die Welt, and Pravda."
Yet not one ad has appeared in a newspaper in the Palestinian territories.
No, a Palestinian can only find out about the program by going to the State Department Web site, clicking on "campaigns", then "kidnappings and murders" and then "Opposition to the Middle East Peace Process."
That's where Koby's name is listed.
Buried, rather. Even being fluent in English, I had a hard time finding the page.
In other words, to learn about the reward, you'd already have to know that the reward exists.
According to their heading, Koby was killed by "a person opposed to the Middle East Peace Process."
To say nothing of the neutered language that the site uses, rather than call these killers "terrorists." According to their heading, Koby was killed by "a person opposed to the Middle East Peace Process."
Makes them sound like rational political activists, not killers schooled in hatred so virulent that many terrorists lace their suicide bombs with rat poison so that their victims bleed more.
I call the State Department and ask: "Are you publicizing the reward? Will anybody see that there is a $5 million reward for information on Koby's murderer?"
"Yes," the State Department official tells me, "they can look on the Internet."
"How many Palestinian homes have Internet?"
"A lot, " he says. "They have high Internet penetration rates."
"How high?" I ask.
"I'll get back to you." Three weeks later, they still can't figure it out. "There are Internet cafes," he responds. Finally, he e-mails me that about 5 percent of Palestinian families have Internet access. Even that number, I believe, is inflated.
In Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, there are no Rewards for Justice ads on billboards, matchbooks or newspapers, as is done in other countries. No, instead the State Department's notice is buried as deeply as the body of my son.
My son was a true American. He loved Michael Jordan, Cal Ripen, the Atlantic Ocean, Delray beach, french fries, hamburgers and the Fourth of July. He deserves better. So do all the American victims of terrorism in Israel.
The Koby Mandell Act, a bill now before Congress, would set up an office in the Justice Department to seek justice for American families who have suffered the loss of a loved one at the hands of Palestinian terrorists.
It is time to make sure that the war against terrorism is fought for all U.S. citizens, including those Americans killed in Israel. It is time to pass the Koby Mandell Act and ensure that the search for justice is a mission, not a gesture.