WASHINGTON — Before Daniel Wultz’s last name made headlines for his parents’ attempts to seek justice, before he stopped to eat shwarma near Tel Aviv’s old central bus station, and before a suicide bomber, sent by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, detonated some five kilograms of explosives while he ate — fatally wounding the 16-year old from Florida — Wultz was a teenager who was passionate about prayer.
Eight years later, with his parent’s lawsuit against the Bank of China for enabling terror funding still encountering significant obstacles, the Wultzes traveled to Washington, DC, Thursday to mark the National Day of Prayer on Capitol Hill.
“Daniel was committed to prayer himself — he prayed every day,” Daniel Wultz’s mother, Sheryl Wultz, said Thursday. “He had a kippa and tzitzit on when the bombing took place and that was what they showed me at the hospital to identify him.”
According to Sheryl Wultz, the event, cosponsored by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) — Wultz’s cousin — represented the important place prayer held both for Daniel as well as for the Wultz family in the aftermath of the attack.
“This was a moving and important event because on this special day of prayer it is important to reflect on one of the ways we unite as a people. From the time I was in the hospital in the waiting room, or by his bedside in intensive care, we got hundreds and hundreds of prayer messages from people of all faiths from all parts of the world,” Sheryl Wultz recalled.
These prayers, she said, made the family feel “united with others against the horrible act that was perpetrated against us.”
Wasserman Schultz told reporters after the event that she found Wultz’s case particularly appropriate given the proximity between Yom Hashoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day — and the National Day of Prayer.
“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to honor Daniel Wultz’s memory, to make sure that we recount what happened that fateful day when he and Tuly were the unfortunate victims of a suicide bomber’s evil and hatred,” Wasserman Schultz said, referring to Daniel Wultz’s father, who was injured in the attack. “It was incredibly fitting on this National Day of Prayer, especially in a week on which we had a series of events to highlight how committed we are to never again — to never forgetting.”
Yekutiel “Tuly” Wultz described the Congressional event, held in the Majority Leader’s conference room, as “incredibly heartwarming to watch members of Congress on both sides put their political differences aside to come together in prayer to remember Daniel and what he stood for.”
The event was not just a memorial for Daniel, but also a Congressional show of support for the ongoing struggle by the Wultz family to prosecute the institutions that brought the suicide bomber to the south Tel Aviv restaurant where Wultz was having lunch. After successfully suing both Syria and Iran in a Washington, DC, district court for aiding Islamic Jihad, the Wultz family has spent five years trying to take the Bank of China to court for serving as a conduit for the terror organization’s funding.
The case is ongoing in two separate district courts — both Washington, DC, and New York. In New York this week, the judge in the case issued a ruling that would force Bank Hapoalim to provide evidence as to whether the Israeli bank originated wire transfers from an Islamic Jihad leader’s account in the Israeli bank to his account in the Chinese bank.
The case against the Bank of China hinges on whether or not Israeli authorities informed the Chinese bank during a 2005 meeting in Beijing that the account held by Said al-Shurafa was being used to subsidize terrorist activities.
If the Chinese bank’s legal team can prove that Bank Hapoalim knowingly originated wire transfers from Shurafa’s Israeli account to his Chinese account, it would undermine claims by the plaintiffs that Israel had warned China about Shurafa’s transactions. The defense is set to claim that if the Israeli government did not flag Israel-based transactions as supporting terror, it does not stand to reason that they would have informed a foreign bank.
The larger obstacle, however, to progress in either court is the contested testimony of intelligence agent Uzi Shaya. Shaya was reportedly present at the 2005 Beijing meeting in which Shurafa’s activities were reported to the Bank of China.
According to the Wultzes, Israel initially encouraged the lawsuit against the Bank of China — and the Wultz family says they have written commitments from the government that Shaya would testify about the fateful 2005 meeting. But shortly after the attack, Israel and China drew closer together, and the Israeli government put the kibosh on Shaya’s testimony.
Officially, the government has claimed that they oppose having an intelligence officer offer sensitive testimony in a foreign court. The Wultzes’ supporters have called foul, arguing that the government backtracked from its offer of support after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu worked hard to improve relations with China — including a prime ministerial visit to Beijing.
But Wasserman Schultz said Thursday that members of Congress who support the Wultzes in their search for justice against terror financiers have not resigned themselves to the current impasse.
“Until we are turned completely away and there are no avenues left, we continue to press for justice to be served as we feel that it should be,” Wasserman Schultz told reporters. “We will continue to provide help and support every day and at every opportunity we can.”