On April 9, 2013 the sentencing of Jack Teitel took place. He was sentenced to 80 years in prison which included 2 life sentences equal to 50 years imprisonment, plus 30 years for his other crimes including the attempted murder of Ami Ortiz. Teitel is 40 years old.
When Jack Teitel was brought into the courtroom, a large group of reporters swarmed in after him to where he was seated and crowded around him. They were allowed to photograph and ask him questions before the judges made their entrance. They asked him, “Do you regret your actions?” He answered, “not at all”. He said he considered himself a servant of God, and that he had carried out his crimes for Him. He also said that if given the chance he would do it again. It was chilling to hear him say that.
The sentencing had been postponed by his lawyers, and the new date actually fell at a very crucial and symbolic time, the days between Holocaust Rememberance Day and Memorial Day for Fallen soldiers and those killed in terrorist attacks, which is then followed by Israeli Independence Day. This is the focus and very much on the minds of the nation at this time. The judges wrote a 68 page document confirming their position and the reasoning for their sentencing and referred to this fact at the end. They read the last few pages of their decision to those of us in the court room – Here is an excerpt which gives you an idea of the quality of humanity these judges possess.
“Before the end (when the sentencing will take place) we want to repeat and emphasize: it was proven before us that feelings of hatred and frustration were used by the defendant while committing criminal acts, while sacred values became dust at his feet. We know that life is sacred and to be respected in every way, but we did not find a sign or memory of that knowledge in the possession of the defendant; Our scriptures command us: “Thou shalt not kill” ,but the defendant stopped up his ears and eyes, and murdered and attempted to murder in cold blood. Every crime that he committed, was saturated with the contamination of the hatred of his mind and heart..
His actions become more evident and obvious, the murders were committed only because of the Arab origins of his victims, who were unarmed, without any threat of visible weapons or intimidation on their part towards him. The rest of the offenses the defendant committed were ideologically motivated. This is not a one case incident or a mistake, what we have before us is – a phenomenon.
The democratic System of government is honorable and worthy, when it is established on an interaction between the different segments of the nations that dwell in the country, Jews and Arabs as one, and the state institutions, which should be accompanied by a sense of trust and general confidence that prevails for every citizen, regardless of origin, whose actions are not led by arbitrariness of the heart but by appropriate values which we all want to depend on.
The State of Israelis blessed in this regard with governmental institutions that operate according to law, in a legal constitutional environment where sacred values are used as candles for its feet and human dignity and freedom are the leading values. But this matter in question invaded to the depths of our consciousness – and indeed violated one of the basic premises which guides us on a daily basis. The ruling in this case leaves no room for doubt: the murders, the attempted murders and other crimes committed by the defendant were directed at the heart of this country’s values which were stated beforehand, but it should be emphasized – that these malicious intentions cannot be tolerated by a society that fights against those who would try to destroy it.
This is true all year round, but even more so during these days between Memorial Day, Holocaust Memorial Day and Independence Day.”
The dramatic sentencing then followed. When the judges left the Chamber, and Teitel was taken away, we were besieged by the mainstream Israeli and foreign media, television, radio, and newspapers, who wanted to know our reaction. Also present was Christian TV and foreign news. I spoke to the Israeli reporters and David interviewed for the Christian and foreign news. I told them that Teitel was a dangerous man, filled with hate and darkness, and that he deserved to be in jail for the rest of his life for what he had done. For two days our phone rang off the hook with the media asking for interviews.
For us, however the battle is not over, because the next morning Ami still woke up with disfigurement, constant pain, ringing in his ears and 100 pieces of shrapnel in his body and eyes. Our point in bringing this up is to turn attention to an important issue.
Israeli Social Security evaluates and compensates terror attack victims on an ongoing basis. However, their laws state that the definition of an act of terror, or a hate crime as it is called in Hebrew, is Jew against Arab, and Arab against Jew, carried out for nationalistic reasons. Therefore, the family of Teitel’s first victim who was an Arab, Samir Balbisi, who was murdered by Jack Teitel in cold blood, received compensation from Social Security. Even though it was the same terrorist, and the same string of crimes carried out by the same person for the same reasons, because we are a Jewish family the system has ruled that it cannot be called a hate crime and Ami is not eligible for compensation for his handicaps, as a violent act carried out by a Jew against a Jew is categorized as a criminal act and not an act of terror. This is of course, as the newspapers put it, ridiculous and unjust, but in the meantime, for the past five years, Ami has remained without compensation.
Yesterday, David and I woke up well before dawn to travel to a television studio in Tel Aviv so we could appear on their morning show to talk about the sentencing. I was reminded of the words of King Solomon in Proverbs 24:16-18
16 For a righteous man may fall seven times
And rise again,
But the wicked shall fall by calamity.
17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
18 Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him,
And He turn away His wrath from him.
We are not happy that Teitel has fallen, because that will not serve to heal the destruction, pain and suffering he has caused our family and so many others. But we are happy for the truth and justice that went forth from the courtroom yesterday, and we pray the aftermath will be a blessing for the community of Messianic Believers in Israel, and for the nation as a whole as result.
Many seek the ruler’s favor,
But justice for man comes from the Lord.
Along with the sentence, Teitel was also fined and ordered to pay his victims monetary compensation. However we were told by the lawyers that the sum awarded us is a theoretical number because it can’t be reinforced, Teitel doesn’t possess the funds to compensate us, and so neither he nor the State will be carrying that out.
Here are two links to articles from the Israeli news about the sentencing –
and a beautiful video report by Chris Mitchell of CBN.
When Ami was being treated in Israel for his injuries, his medical expenses were mostly covered by our national insurance. Now we have come to a different stage in Ami’s recovery, which is intensive laser plastic surgery for the scars that cover his body. When Ami goes to the beach or a swimming pool, people stare at him, or run over to ask what happened to him. It is a painful and extremely uncomfortable experience for him, seeing the shock on people’s faces when they see his body. The surgeon who will do the treatments is seeking to make him a part of a study so that a part of the cost of the laser treatments will be possibly done without cost, but because the scars cover his whole body in the end we will have to pay at least a part, along with travel expenses, medications, etc. This is a link to the type of procedure that will be done on Ami.
Throughout these five years we have been financially drained because of legal expenses for the uphill battle we have waged to protect our civil and human rights, and our right to be heard and respected as Jewish believers in Yeshua the Messiah, and the extra medical procedures Ami has needed . Many individual believers and believing organizations have greatly helped us, and we are very grateful. But because this has dragged on for five years, it has been very difficult to catch up to and maintain the costs of fighting this battle on all fronts. In the Bible we read many stories of victories, but sometimes we don’t know the reality of the great human cost involved. Widows of those who gave their lives for Yeshua had to be supported. The families of the men of Israel who were in David’s army bore heavy losses. The Bible says in Romans 13:8 – Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.. So to maintain our testimony, we are requesting for help if your heart is being touched to do so. This case forms a precedent that other cases will be built on and it represents all believers living in this land. We continue to fight so this will not happen to anyone else.
Thank you for accompanying us throughout these years,
Leah and David
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