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January 26, 2016
Daniel Miller still limps. Some 19 years after surviving a suicide bombing in Jerusalem, he still has permanent nerve damage in his arm from shrapnel, which also causes his limp.
But on January 14, when he stood before the US Supreme Court, Miller finally felt victory.
Miller talked to The Jerusalem Post following the historic hearing, both about his experience of the September 4, 1997 Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall suicide bombing and his feelings on the verge of getting some kind of justice from America’s highest court.
He had just landed in Israel on the evening of September 3 to spend a gap-year between high school and college studying at the Reishit Yerushalayim Yeshiva.
The students had been given time to shop for items they needed for living in their dorms, he recalled, and he and two friends stayed in town a bit longer to eat at Café Benjy.
They ordered drinks and started to make a toast to the New Year, but never got to drink it, when the first of three Hamas suicide bombers blew himself up “only five feet to our right,” said Miller.
“The force of the blast pushed me from facing forward to facing left. I thought my getting moved like that could not have been caused by clicking our glasses for the toast, then I looked down at my hand and saw it was bleeding,” he said.
“I looked for my friends to apologize and they were nowhere to be found. The table was mangled on the ground. My friend across from me had flown a few feet in the air to the left. My other friend was nowhere to be seen – he had tried to run away, avoid harm.”
Describing the next bomb to go off he said, “I locked eyes with someone across the street and 10 seconds later I saw him blow up after saying Alahu akbar. Then I realized what was happening, that I was the victim of a suicide bombing, and I ran into a café to get out of harm’s way,” Miller said.
His and other cases started getting filed in 2001 and led to a US federal court judgment in 2007 for $2.65 billion, but no one had any hope of collecting on Iran, which had no apparent assets to seize in the US.
During his long legal battle, Miller has been represented by Nitsana Darshan- Leitner of Shurat Hadin and David Strachman as local counsel.
A breakthrough was made when assets were found in 2008-2010, which allowed legal proceedings to move forward to seize them, culminating with a lower court win for Miller and hundreds of other plaintiffs in 2014 – a win which Iran appealed to the US Supreme Court.
Miller explained, “I’ve been very attached to the case, not just for compensation, which is important, but to bring Iran and the perpetrators of the attack to justice…I wanted to do something… the hearing at the Supreme Court was an emotional experience for me.”
Miller said that even before the hearing, while sitting in the Supreme Court building café, he “started tearing up seeing all the terrorism victims coming together to make the regime fight for itself and answer for its crimes, seeing that the victims can bring it to the highest court in our land.”
From attending the oral arguments before the Supreme Court, he stated, “my impression of the arguments was positive…I do feel the majority will come out on our side,” said Miller.
He said there is “one common denominator even with terrorists: What everyone understands is money. If they can’t fund their attacks, you have a chance of winning the battle…There is power being at the Supreme Court…making history, it is a huge victory for the war on terrorism.”
The Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of the court cycle in June.