Washington — Joshua Faudem was having drinks with friends at Mike’s Place, a favorite of the English-speaking community on Tel Aviv’s beach, when two suicide bombers entered and added the popular hangout to the list of Israeli venues that had fallen victim to second intifada terror attacks.
A decade later, Faudem, a dual citizen of Israel and the United States, is preparing to go back to those moments of April 2003, as he could soon be called to testify in a New York court about the horrors of that night and the psychological price he is still paying.
“This is the last cloud hanging over me,” he said. “I’m looking for it to be done.”
Faudem, a documentary filmmaker whose 2004 movie “Blues by the Beach” tells the story of Mike’s Place, is one of hundreds of plaintiffs listed in the largest Palestinian terrorism lawsuit ever filed in the United States. The civil case is aimed at the Jordan-based Arab Bank, one of the Middle East’s largest financial institutions, which, during the bloody period of 2001 to 2004, was allegedly the key conduit for funding families of Hamas suicide bombers that carried out attacks against Israelis.
It is one of two major suits against international banking institutions that allegedly provided Hamas with a financial lifeline and thereby enabled the group to carry out attacks in Israel.
The second case involves the Bank of China, which allegedly allowed Iran to use it for passing funds to Hamas. The family of Daniel Wultz, an American citizen who was murdered in a terror attack in Tel Aviv in 2006, brought forward that lawsuit. His parents are suing the Bank of China in a New York court. The case is reaching its final stages this summer, but the plaintiffs have recently learned that a former Israeli intelligence official who was supposed to be a key witness in the case has not been permitted by his government to testify. The reason: Israel’s fear that his testimony could harm its growing relations with China.
The scope, the complexity and the precedent of such lawsuits have made for a decade of delays and lengthy legal procedures that plaintiffs hope could now be nearing an end. In April, a New York judge ruled that the Arab Bank case will go to a jury trial. Plaintiffs expect the trial to take place this fall. But a recent petition by the Arab Bank to the Supreme Court could add yet another delay to the process.