Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Borough Park) met this morning with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to discuss an American citizen he says is being held captive and tortured by the Palestinian Authority (PA).
IssamAkel, a 53-year-old Arab-American resident of Jerusalem and U.S. citizen, was allegedly taken captive by the PA after it was alleged that he sold property to Jews. Hikind became involved in the issue yesterday while traveling in Israel, and said he met with Akel’s family, including his wife and two young daughters, aged three and seven.
“The Ambassador assured me that the Secretary of State and Trump Administration are now involved,” said Hikind. “America defends its citizens and we are determined to do everything necessary to secure Issam Akel’s freedom.”
The U.S. State Department did not return inquiries on the issue at post time, but Friedman Tweeted, “The Pal Authority has been holding US citizen Isaam Akel in prison for ~2 months. His suspected `crime’? Selling land to a Jew. Akel’s incarceration is antithetical to the values of the US & to all who advocate the cause of peaceful coexistence. We demand his immediate release.”
Hikind said Akel has lived in America for 12 years and that his four siblings and their families continue to reside in the U.S. “This is a proud Arab-American family,” said Hikind, adding it was heartbreaking to meet with his family and see his daughters crying for their father to come back home.
“This is not Hamas, the recognized terror organization, that has directed this act against an Arab American. This is the Palestinian Authority—the so-called moderates—the official government of the Palestinians who have perpetrated this crime against a U.S. citizen. Imagine the outcry if Israel jailed a Jew for allegedly selling land to an Arab,” said Hikind.
Hikind praised Friedman and the Trump administration for their involvement, but is also calling upon the UN and human rights groups to demand Akel’s release.
“Imagine the outcry if Israel jailed a Jew for allegedly selling land to an Arab. Would human rights groups stand silent if this man was persecuted for selling land to a Black family or an Asian family? I’m calling on those who care about human rights—those groups who advocate for everyone else—to speak out about this heinous violation of human rights against an Arab-American who committed no crime,” he said.