Saturday, February 22, 2020

22-Feb-20: In Jerusalem, two thwarted Arab-on-Israeli stabbings

Screen capture [Source]
Earlier today (Sabbath morning) around 11, a knife-wielding Arab male ran towards Israel Border Police officers on duty near the Lions Gate of Jerusalem's Old City.

Israel National News says the officers
called to the terrorist, asking him to stop, but he turned towards them instead. The officers fired at the terrorist, neutralizing him. He later died of his wounds.
A passer-by, a woman of 42, suffered a leg injury which, according to i24News, resulted from the shooting, and was taken to Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment. Haaretz says she was inadvertently hurt when the attacker was shot "probably by a ricochet of the bullet fired at the him".

Times of Israel quotes Israel's Channel 13 TV news naming the attacker as Maher Ibrahim Za’atara, 33. of East Jerusalem’s Jabel Mukaber neighborhood.

Security camera video footage [here and in Yisrael Medad's tweet below incorporating material for Israel Police] shows him clearly waving his knife as he rushes towards the scene of the attack. Not so surprisingly, his family, according to the Haaretz report, "say they don't accept the Israeli police's account of the events".
Aljazeera's report on the thwarted stabbing ["Israeli forces kill Palestinian in Jerusalem after alleged attack"] quotes the official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa saying "the man was shot several times and left on the ground bleeding near the Lions' Gate (also known as Bab al-Asbat) before Israeli paramedics arrived at the scene". Presumably the Israelis were supposed to do something else.

Image Source
A Palestinian Arab news source [here] has the thwarted attacker's picture and describes him as the father of three children. It also reports that "Israeli forces raided [the attacker's] home and detained his father and two of his brothers, Palestinian news agency WAFA reports."

Based on past experience, the orphans and widow of the attacker's family can now expect to have a well-funded life at the expense of the PA's program of financial incentives for terrorists and their heirs. The foreign taxpayers (mostly European) who keep providing misguided foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority are financing this, whether they want to or not.

Another terror attack was thwarted in Jerusalem yesterday (Friday).

By way of background, the promenade in Armon Hanatziv, a southern suburb of Jerusalem, offers one of the most impressive views of the city as a whole and in particular the Old City and the Temple Mount. That it attracts large numbers of visitors, both locals and tourists, every day is part of what also makes it a favored site for terror attacks by knife-wielding or vehicle-ramming assailants, intent on their moment of fame - and victims. In January 2017, an Arab resident of East Jerusalem aimed his truck at a group of IDF soldiers in the car park area of the promenade ["08-Jan-17: Where the World Council of Churches stands as Israelis are rammed to death"] and killed four of them.

Times of Israel says a woman attempted to stab passers-by at the popular promenade on Friday morning. Said to be a Palestinian Arab from East Jerusalem, she made several stabbing attempts with her knife while screaming Allahu Akbar (according to Ynet) before being wrestled to the ground by civilians. Police then took her into custody. One man was mildly injured by the assailant.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

06-Feb-20: A day of rising apprehension

The scene of the vehicle-ramming at First Station, Jerusalem,
Credit: United Hatzalah [Image Source]
Wednesday February 5, 2019
  • The terrorists of Hamas issued a call to Palestinian Arabs "for escalating confrontations with the occupation and its settlers and fighting their assaults against the land and holy sites, especially the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque" [Times of Israel].
  • Palestinian Media Watch publicized a brief video on TikTok – a social network popular among children - that encourages murdering Israelis by means of graphic animated recreations of actual terror attacks: four specific Arab-on-Israeli terror attacks that involved drive-by shootings, rammings and knifings. The appalling animation clip is here.
Thursday February 6, 2019
  • In a pre-dawn, Thursday morning vehicle ramming attack on Jerusalem's David Remez Street, adjacent to the popular First Station restaurant and entertainment compound, a terrorist slammed his car into a group of IDF Golani soldiers brought to Jerusalem for their swearing-in ceremony. (They were walking around just prior to their early-morning ceremony at the Kotel, the Western Wall in the nearby Old City.) Twelve are injured, one of them now in serious condition. Times of Israel says he is in serious but stable condition, unconscious and connected to a respirator in the intensive care unit. A search is underway for the attacker. The vehicle used in the 2 o'clock attack had Israeli license plates and was later found abandoned in the Palestinian Arab village of Beit Jala, adjacent to Bethlehem, a few minutes drive from the site of the ramming. "Clashes broke out in the village and the surrounding area as Israeli troops searched for the driver, who had fled the scene after hitting the soldiers. Palestinian media reported that Israeli troops seized security cameras around Bethlehem, apparently as part of the search effort" [Times of Israel].
  • Thursday noon: An Arab-on-Israeli shooting attack at the Lions' Gate in Jerusalem's Old City resulted in an Israeli being wounded. According to Ynet, he is a 38-year-old Border Guard policeman. The shooter was shot dead by other police in the vicinity. 
  • Thursday mid-afternoon, an Israeli man was wounded by gunfire in an evident drive-by shooting on a road near Dolev, an Israeli community in the Binyamin region. The shooter is still on the loose. Hamodia says the victim, an IDF soldier in his 20s, is lightly wounded and getting treatment at Sheba Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv. Hamodia says the shooting happened at the Post Intersection, named for the post office located nearby during the time of the British Mandate. It's today a busy intersection, near the Palestinian Arab villages of Ras Karkar and Kharbatha Bani Harith, and the Israeli communities of Neria and Na’aleh. Ras Karkar is now under IDF closure as forces search for the terrorists.
  • Thursday 5:00 pmThe IDF is positioning an extra battalion in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) to respond to the upsurge in Arab-on-Israel violence. Times of Israel says IDF battalions normally include several hundred soldiers.
The post-attack scene this afternoon in the Old City [Image Source]
Few doubt the Trump conflict-resolution proposals announced on January 28 are what has brought the Fatah and Hamas leadership of the Palestinian Arabs to encourage fresh and escalating violence. Times of Israel says
"In the week and a half since the plan’s release, the military has noted a significant increase in violence in the West Bank, with regular riots, rock-throwing and violent opposition to Israeli arrest raids...
We've been down this route enough times already to know that the Arab side act as if the threat to them of peace is more dangerous than war and fighting. The Palestinian Authority (PA) regime rejected the US proposals before they were even announced. Speaking a day before the plan was released, and before he had any way to know what it contained, PA prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said: "We reject it and we demand the international community not be a partner to it".

Writing in Fathom Journal this month, Alex Ryvchin of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry writes that

be sure, it is the Palestinians who have the most to gain from securing a deal. The Jewish people have their national home – a stable, successful, innovative, liberal-democratic state that despite facing incomparable threats and challenges, and despite having virtually no natural resources compared to its neighbours, has matured into an economic and military power in just 71 years. But the Palestinians remain stateless and stricken by all the consequences of such a condition... calling the plan a ‘hoax’ and a ‘fraud’ and summoning their people to a new ‘day of rage’...PA Prime Minister Shtayyeh delivered a strikingly candid explanation, perhaps unwittingly, for why the Palestinians, who claim to seek independence above all else, are rejecting a proposal to give them just that. ‘It is nothing but a plan to finish off the Palestinian cause,’ he said. Herein lies the answer to the vexing question of why a people that claims they want nothing more than a home of their own and an end to the conflict, have rejected five comprehensive offers of statehood and have now taken to rejecting new offers before they are even presentedThe conflict is not a territorial dispute to be settled by delineating borders and agreeing land swaps. It is a clash between the Jewish national movement which desperately craved a scrap of land to call their own so that they and their contributions to humanity should not vanish from this Earth, and the ‘Palestinian cause,’ which seeks no precise outcome beyond thwarting its rival, and holding out, digging in, struggling on, resisting. 
Few of the Israelis we know think these irreconcilable outlooks are going to be somehow resolved in the foreseeable future.

UPDATE 6:30 pm Thursday February 6, 2019: The alleged vehicle rammer was arrested this afternoon at Gush Etzion Junction, south of Jerusalem. He's said [Times of Israel] to be a male, 28, a resident of East Jerusalem's A-Tur neighbourhood and with no previous terror convictions.

UPDATE 9:00 pm Thursday February 6, 2019: The First Station ramming suspect is now identified as Sanad al-Tourman, who according to Israel's Channel 13 TV news operates a flower shop in a Jerusalem shopping mall. No further details for now.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

05-Feb-20: What do Palestinian Arabs think?

Abbas in better times [Image Source]
The opinions of Palestinian Arabs are, to a great extent, a puzzle.

By that, we don't mean what their elites say they think. Or what outside reporters guess are their opinions. It's not a free or open society. It doesn't have unrestricted media - quite the opposite. And it hasn't had elections for well over a decade.

So, as we keep saying in this blog, what Palestinian Arabs tell trusted fellow Palestinian Arabs who are professional opinion pollsters about the things they actually believe is a subject always worth revisiting. (The last time we did that was here: "04-Jun-19: What do Palestinian Arabs think?")

Our previous poll-centered posts have centered on the published data of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) headed by Dr. Khalil Shikaki. Click here to go to those previous posts - we started analyzing and reporting on  them in 2011. 

We're doing that again now based on PSR's most recent Public Opinion Poll, number 74, which was published [here] on December 26, 2019. 

The polling was done both in the Fatah/PLO-controlled West Bank and in the Hamas-occupied Gaza Strip in the period December 11 to 14. Total size of sample: 1,200 adults interviewed face to face in 120 randomly selected locations. Margin of error +/-3%.

‣ President Abbas?

Mahmoud Abbas became president of the Palestinian Authority in the January 2005 elections. That was a four-year term that has famously just 'celebrated' its fifteenth birthday. Hard to avoid the conclusion that elections are not so popular among the mostly-elderly, mostly-wealthy Palestinian Arab insiders who control the operation.

Abbas' power is broad. Beyond the PA role, he holds these additional titles in parallel:
The data show that the people he rules don't seem to like him much. 

As of this past December, 61% of the Palestinian Arab public wanted Abbas to resign, exactly the same percentage as three months earlier. This is split between the 52% of West Bank Arabs who hold that view (higher than the percentage 90 days earlier) and the no-less-than-73% of Gazans who want to see Abbas leave office immediately.

‣ A Two-State Solution?

How much support is there among Palestinian Arabs for the concept of a two-state solution? Just 42%. Now ponder this: Fully two-thirds of all Palestinian Arabs say it's the US "declaration of the legality of Israeli settlements according to international law" that blocks the two-state solution.

It evidently doesn't occur to them that their own pretty strong opposition is, let's say, part of the problem. Not for the first time, we get the sense that in Palestinian Arab society, the population don't see themselves as causing things to happen. Rather, they're a people to whom things are done by others.

‣ War or peace?

What's their "most preferred way out of the current status quo":
  • "Armed struggle": 39% (which is slightly up on the number of three months earlier)
  • "Reaching a peace agreement with Israel": 29%
  • "Waging a non-violent resistance" (what they mean by this is unspecified): 14%
  • "Keep the status quo": 15%. 
Identify "the most effective means of ending the Israeli occupation":
  • "Armed struggle": 47% (three points higher than three months ago)
  • "Popular resistance": 20%
  • "Negotiations": 26%
In view of how "the peace negotiations are suspended", which alternative directions (more than one is acceptable) do they support?: 
  • "Popular non-violent resistance": 60%
  • "A return to an armed intifada": 52%
  • "Dissolving the PA": 42%
  • "Abandoning the two-state solution and demanding the establishment of one state for Palestinians and Israelis": 28%
‣ Their society's most vital goals?
  • Option 1: "To end Israeli occupation in the areas occupied in 1967 and build a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital": 44%
  • Option 2: "To obtain the right of return of refugees to their 1948 towns and villages": 33%
  • Option 3: "To build a pious or moral individual and a religious society, one that applies all Islamic teachings": 13%
  • Option 4: "To establish a democratic political system that respects freedoms and rights of Palestinians": 9%
‣ The most serious problem confronting Palestinian society today?
  • "The continuation of occupation and settlement activities": 28%
  • Poverty and unemployment: 26%
  • "The spread of corruption in public institutions": 26%
  • "The siege of the Gaza Strip": 17%
A final note. In polling to see how they view the future of Palestinian Arab society, the words "child" and "children" don't appear in either the questions or the responses. That's sad.

[This post, like a number of others before it, has been translated to Polish ("Co myślą palestyńscy Arabowie?") by courtesy of Malgorzata Koraszewska over on the Listy z naszego sadu website. Our sincere thanks to her, and great appreciation to readers of this blog in Poland.]

Friday, January 31, 2020

31-Jan-20: Fox News break ranks with the mainstream media on Tamimi and Jordan

For us, it's something of a milestone.

On Wednesday, over on the heavily-trafficked Fox News website , there's an informative long-form piece that in large measure deals with our efforts to see Ahlam Tamimi, the Jordanian Islamist who masterminded the massacre at Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria in 2001, finally brought before US justice.

Written by Hollie McKay, the article is entitled "Most wanted female terrorist lives in freedom in Jordan despite extradition request for bombing that killed Americans".

Tamimi faces serious Federal charges in the United States for the central role she had in the mass-casualty attack. The FBI and the US Department of Justice have made serious efforts to take her into custody and reached what we think is the limit of their capabilities, absent the involvement of the political echelon of both the United States (by far the more important side) and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The mainstream media pay almost no attention to Tamimi, to Jordan's egregious (and frankly disgraceful) refusal to comply with its own 1995 treaty with the US, to our efforts, to the effect the Jordan/Tamimi scandal is having on the unchecked spread of Islamist and extremist pro-Palestinian Arab violence, and to how US politicians (with some important exceptions) treat the affair as untouchable and us as lepers.

Our thanks to Fox News and to Hollie McKay, whom we've never met, for focusing on what we are sure is an important story that exemplifies how justice in the plainest sense can be denied for shabby and unspoken political motives.

We're hoping other parts of the media will now step up and give it some more attention. And that the pressure for Jordan to extradite this unrepentant savage so that US justice can at last be delivered to her in accordance with the law.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

18-Jan-20: Red lines, defilement and more Arab-on-Israeli knifings

The Kiryat Arab victim in today's Israel National News report
If you rely on news reports alone, the ebb and flow of Arab-on-Israeli terror attacks can seem to happen without any obvious pattern or underlying motivation.

But sometimes, you wait a little and you learn that there are forces at work that wanted these to happen.

We're mostly in the dark about what's driving events here in the Jerusalem area today. But as always, there are clues. And yes, a Palestinian Arab child is involved. Again.

From Times of Israel, we know a man of 22 suffered moderate injuries this afternoon (Saturday - Shabbat) when he was stabbed in the shoulder by "a Palestinian youth" (a term that can have multiple meanings) in Kiryat Arba. The knifer was arrested while trying to escape the scene of the attack according to the IDF is in their hands for questioning. Haaretz says the stabber is an as-yet-unnamed seventeen year old. Keep that in mind the next time you see, and you surely will see, hostile news coverage complaining of how Israel takes so many children into custody.

The knifing victim is in Jerusalem's Shaarei Zedek Medical Center where they say he is in stable condition. Israel National News this evening says the Israeli is Moshe Greenblatt, who says from his hospital bed that "Thank G-d, I feel good... The knife broke and he didn't manage to stab any of the people around me."

Earlier today (Saturday - the Jewish Sabbath), a Palestinian Arab female said to be "in her fifties" was taken into custody by Border Police officers after threatening them with a knife at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. The Times of Israel report says she was subdued by officers and a civilian who happened to be at the scene and is also undergoing questioning.

Friday morning, right after the completion of their morning prayer service which were attended by an estimated 8,000 people, hundreds of Muslim Arab worshipers chanted about killing Jews outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem's Temple Mount. Police dispersed the crowd. Times of Israel says no one was injured in the clashes with police.

TV footage from the march shows members of the unruly crowd shouting in Arabic “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning.”


Video clip from 124news.tv

It's a recurring theme - the chant recalls how in the seventh century Muslims massacred and expelled Jews from the town of Khaybar, located in today's Saudi Arabia. Their chants also included “With spirit and blood, we will salvage Al-Aqsa” and “Jews, the army of Al-Aqsa is returning.”

Hamas, on Friday, declared itself happy with the unrest. Times of Israel quotes one of its spokespeople saying the morning prayers “support our people in their campaign against the Zionist occupation and thwart its racist plans.”

This past Wednesday, Hamas publicly called for Palestinian Arabs to “mobilize” during Friday’s prayers against the “defilement” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs by “the Zionist occupation.” The terrorists sought to persuade Israeli authorities that “our sanctities are a red line that cannot be tolerated.”

Monday, December 16, 2019

16-Dec-19: Like talking to the wall

Congressman Adam Smith in  Amman (Source: Jordan Times)
About six weeks ago, we noticed a Jordanian news report about an official visit to the sumptuous palace of Jordan's ruler by a senior US Congressman, Representative Adam Smith.

A Democrat, Smith represents Washington state's 9th Congressional district. Before that he served in the Washington State Senate. He has been a member of the House Armed Services Committee since 1997 and is its current chairman.

The details of his formal visit to the royal palace appeared on the website of Jordan's embassy in Washington DC. They also appeared on the website of Jordan's Royal Hashemite Court and a little later in the government-controlled Jordan Times. If it goot US media coverage, we haven't seen it.

We noted and commented on the visit here.

Smith's was one of three Congressional Delegation visits to the royal place in Amman that we know of between the first week of October and the first week of November. There may have been others that we didn't spot. We're new to the business of tracking the activities of US Congress people when they're outside the US. The US media seem to pay them little to no attention.

So why is this an issue for us?

Arabic and English reward posters issued in 2018 by the US State Department
If you know much about this blog, you will probably be aware of how Jordan refuses to extradite the Islamist savage who bombed the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem. And that this flies in the face of years of Jordan complying with the bilateral extradition treaty with the US that has been in effect since 1995 during the Clinton/Hussein era.

Our 15 year old daughter Malki was one of the many children inside that pizzeria who were blown to pieces.

Ahlam Tamimi, whom we consider a monster, has taken credit for years - on television, in the print media, on multiple social media platforms - for selecting the site (the large number of Jewish children inside at that hour was the key factor) and for personally bringing the bomb (a human, enrwapped in  explosives and ugly little nails) to the door of the pizzeria just before fleeing to save herself.

She calls it "my operation" and has never denied the charges. She has publicly and repeatedly confessed.

Our disappointment at the repeated failure to act of a long and bipartisan string of US politicians and officials to whom we have turned is exacerbated by our fury at the brazenness of the Jordanians whose bad faith in this matter is, as we see it, beyond all doubt.

It's highly unlikely that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will ever voluntarily extradite this woman. If the mainstream media paid attention - but they do not - more people would understand how much of a national hero she is for Jordanians. On the other hand, no one seriously doubts, given the history and the realpolitik, that the US can ensure Jordan hands her over to face trial in Washington. But it does not.

Meanwhile we're pained by how US/Jordan relations roll right along with most of the players choosing to ignore the grotesque elephant in the room. That Jordan's king is a frequent honored visitor in the US Congress and the White House, and that his palace in Amman is a remarkably popular destination for a stream of elected US officials are matters that embitter us.

On Friday November 8, 2019, Arnold Roth emailed this letter to Representative Adam Smith's staff:
Caitlyn Cole
Office Manager
District Office of Rep Adam Smith
101 Evergreen Building
15 S. Grady Way
Renton, WA 98057

Dear Ms Cole,
I am writing on a matter of justice in the personal and literal sense. 
In 2017, the Department of Justice unveiled terrorism charges against a Jordanian woman, Ahlam Tamimi. She is the confessed murderer of my daughter Malki. My child was 15 and a US citizen when her life ended in a Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria.
Jordan immediately rebuffed the US request to extradite her even though there has been a valid and active extradition treaty between the two countries since it was signed during the Clinton Administration's days. 
Jordan's highest court ruled, just days after the US charges were announced against Tamimi, that the treaty is invalid and unconstitutional. Not only that, but it has always been invalid and unconstitutional siince the day it was signed. 
An announcement made less than a week ago by the State Department [described at https://thisongoingwar.blogspot.com/2019/11/03-nov-19-in-washington-step-towards.html] makes plain that the US rejects Jordan's interpretation. 
In the meantime, Tamimi lives free in Jordan's capital, not in hiding, a celebrity whose constant acts of incitement to further Islamist terror atrocities are amplified by her frequent and essentially unfettered access to Jordan's media.
Mr Smith's visit to Jordan, reported today in the Jordanian media (see http://jordantimes.com/news/local/king-receives-us-house-representatives-delegation), comes on the heels of one by Speaker Pelosi in October and one by Rep Jason Crow a few weeks before that.
It prompts me to ask these questions:
  • Was Mr Smith briefed by the State Department or the US embassy in Amman prior to meeting the king and Jordan's foreign minister?
  • Did the briefing/s touch on US efforts to extradite Tamimi to Washington DC?
  • Did Mr Smith urge his hosts to ensure compliance by Jordan with its treaty obligations to the US?
  • Is Mr Smith willing to speak with me about this after he returns?
My questions are for the record, and I do plan to publicize them and whatever response your office shares with me.
Sincerely,
Arnold Roth
Separately but at about the same time, we reached out to a contact in the US State Department to find out about briefings given to Congress persons who come calling on Jordan's king in his palace. In effect, what we asked was whether Representative Smith was told ahead of sitting down with the king about Jordan's breach of its extradition treaty obligations with the US. And did he know of the years of US efforts to extradite Ahlam Tamimi to Washington.

The answer we got was cloudy and unhelpful. (We will publish it at the appropriate time. It was not confidential.)

Just after sending the letter, Arnold posted this tweet:
A mildly encouraging reply arrived by email later that day from Representative Smith's staff:
Fri, Nov 8, 8:35 PM
Hi Arnold,

Thank you for reaching out! I’m looping in Monica Matoush and Caleb Randall-Bodman from the HASC communications team who can help answer your questions. I’m also adding Chairman Smith’s Communications Director Justin Weiss for his awareness.

If there’s anything else I can assist with, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Warmly,
Caitlyn Cole
District Scheduler/Office Manager
Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09)
And then another from Caleb Randall-Bodman from the same Smith team:
Nov 8, 2019, 9:12 PM
to Frimet, Arnold, Monica, Caitlyn, Justin
Thanks Caitlyn,
Arnold - thanks for your questions. The Chairman is actually still in transit back from the trip. We’ll make a point to touch base with him about your questions when he is back home, and we will be in touch in the coming days. 
Thanks,
Caleb 
We waited four days for a proper response. Then Arnold emailed this:
November 12, 2019
Dear Mr Randall-Bodman,
I appreciate your acknowledging my email to Rep Smith. 
As you may realize, my wife and I are campaigning to see delayed justice done in the case of our murdered daughter. The questions in my letter are framed as yes/no to encourage a timely response. 
We would appreciate knowing if an answer is on the way.
Sincerely
Arnold Roth
Silence.

Arnold waited two more days and then sent this:
Nov 14, 2019, 11:16 AM
to Caleb, Frimet, Monica, Caitlyn, Justin
Ladies and gentlemen,
If there is a reasonable justification for us to keep waiting for an answer to our straightforward questions, please let us know what it is. 
But if we don't hear it from you today, we plan to press forward on the assumption that we are once again being ignored.
The only reason we are dealing with Members of Congress is because our child's murderer, an FBI Most Wanted fugitive terrorist, is living a dream life instead of being extradited to Washington.
We can deal with excuses and political differences. Being ignored is unacceptable.
Arnold Roth
Later the same day, this arrived from Monica Matoush on behalf of Representative Smith:
Nov 14, 2019, 5:03 PM
to Caleb, Caitlyn, Justin, Connor, Arnold, Frimet
Good Morning Mr. Roth,

I apologize for the delay.  Chairman Smith returned to DC just yesterday and was immersed in meetings, hampering my ability to engage with him on this sensitive subject.

In speaking with staff who accompanied him on the trip they were not in room, so they are unable to advise if the subject of Ms. Tamimi’s extradition was part of the discussion.

We will make a point today to discuss with Chairman Smith whether he had any prior knowledge to the specifics you’ve mentioned below, what information, if any, our State Dept provided him and what will be his follow on actions, now that he is tracking the issue.

I will get back to you as I have something more.

Best,
Monica Matoush
HASC Comm Director
Arnold waited four days. Then emailed this:
Nov 14, 2019, 5:50 PM
to Monica, Caleb, Frimet, Caitlyn, Justin, Connor
Thank you. Please refer to my four questions. Just four. 
Then five days later, this:
Nov 19, 2019, 12:30 AM
to Monica, Caleb, Frimet, Caitlyn, Justin, Connor 
Eleven days after my first message to his office, it seems safe to assume at this point that no response is going to come from Rep Smith. 
Arnold Roth
Then after nearly three more weeks of no response, Arnold emailed this
Dec 9, 2019, 8:54 AM
to Monica, Caleb, Frimet, Caitlyn, Justin, Connor
Ladies and gentlemen,
A polite reminder to you that, as the parents of a US citizen who was a beautiful and caring 15 year old when she was killed in the bigotry-driven bombing of a pizzeria filled with children, we have tried to extract responses from a string of US political figures who have paid official visits to Jordan's king during the past six weeks. 
There are surprisingly many such Congressional representatives. What's harder for us to understand is that not a single one of them has responded when we have reached out to their offices to ask if they know about King Abdullah II's brazen disregard for his kingdom's treaty obligations to the United States. 
One of those, as you know, is the office and staff of Chairman Smith.
Our only leverage is the little we can achieve as ordinary parents, unaided by political alignment (of which we have none), reaching out to the media. But this does not mean we are powerless. If you take a look at our blog, you will see that we have managed to get the system to issue Federal charges and a $5M State Department reward offer and to have her added to the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list. 
We will keep doing all we can until we see Ahlam Tamimi extradited from Jordan to a Washington court-room, nothwithstanding the totally bilateral cold shoulder we keep encountering. And despite the nauseating protection the bomber gets from Jordan's royal leader.
I am baffled by your indifference to all this.
Sincerely,
Arnold Roth
Jerusalem
Nothing other than the sounds of being ignored. The following day, Arnold emailed this final note:
Arnold Roth
Tue, Dec 10, 8:26 PM (6 days ago)
to Monica, Caleb, Connor, Justin, Caitlyn 
None of you has responded.
As of now, we regard ourselves as free to publicize what has passed between us and your office.
Sincerely,
Arnold Roth
A week has passed and there has been zero from Representative Adam Smith's busy team.

This is far from the only instance of our reaching out to elected officials or government appointees asking for basic clarifications connected to the dream life being lived in the Arab world by our daughter's killer. And being rebuffed.

The list includes some significant names. During October and November 2019, in addition to Rep Adam Smith, it included:
  • Ranking Member Mac Thornberry, House Armed Services Committee [Source]
  • Chairman Eliot Engel, House Foreign Affairs Committee [Source]
  • Chairman Bennie Thompson, Homeland Security Committee [Source]
  • Chairman Adam Schiff, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence [Source]
  • Congressman Ron Kind, House Ways and Means Committee [Source]
  • Congresswoman Susan Davis, House Armed Services Committee [Source]
  • Congressman Stephen Lynch, Chairman, House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security [Source]
  • Congresswoman Elaine Luria, House Armed Services Committee [Source]
  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi [Source]
  • Congressman Jason Crow [Source]
We documented some of how this works here: "14-Mar-19: Two years after Federal charges are unsealed, Ahlam Tamimi remains free. How is this happening?"

And also here: "19-Oct-19: House Speaker Pelosi led an official visit today to the chief protector of our child's killer".

With few exceptions, mainstream editors and reporters in the news industry won't touch this battle we are waging as bereaved parents to see our child's killer stand trial in Washington on the US Federal charges she faces.

We plan to keep pressing on. We frankly don't understand how they view this. But for us, it's a matter of justice.

UPDATE January 12, 2020: They're back from the Congressional winter vacation and there has been not a single additional word from Rep Smith or his staff to us since the correspondence we published here. Nor from any of the other Congressional champions listed above.

UPDATE January 21, 2020: Turns out Congressman Smith is one of the signatories to letters of support given to the troubling hostile-to-Israel organization described in this extract:
More than 120 members of Congress privately issued letters of support to a controversial Islamic-American advocacy group known for its involvement in one of America's most prominent terrorism financing cases, according to a copy of these official communications obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy group with deep ties to the anti-Israel movement in America, touted its support among congressional leaders during its 2019 gala conference in November in Washington, D.C. Prominent opponents of the pro-Israel community, including anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), headlined the conference. A copy of CAIR's conference agenda, obtained by the Free Beacon and published here for the first time, includes well over 100 letters from Democratic and Republican members of Congress, all of whom expressed their support for the controversial organization. Democrats issued the majority of the letters, with only two coming from Republican members of Congress... ["More Than 120 Members of Congress Issue Letters of Support to Leading Anti-Israel Group", Washington Free Beacon, January 16, 2020]
Perhaps we are a step closer to understanding why he declines to respond to our questions about his Jordan visit.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

15-Dec-19: The Sbarro bomber trashes the ruler who protects her from the FBI

Tamimi, a wanted fugitive from US justice with a $5M reward on her head,
was interviewed in her home by Associated Press reporters two years ago
The Hamas terrorist who chose a Jerusalem pizzeria to bomb because of the many Jewish children inside whom she sought to kill - and succeeded - lives free today in Jordan. In an absolute monarchy, this can only be because Jordan's King Abdullah II wants it that way.

We suggest in this post why that shocking reality (a) is irrational from the king's standpoint, given what the bomber's values and goals are; and (b) involves much blurring and denying of facts and some disgraceful pretending.

The continuing freedom of the bomber, Ahlam Tamimi, is an almost-completely-unreported scandal. Though she’s officially regarded as an on-the-run fugitive by the US Department of Justice and is one of the FBI's 28 most wanted terrorists (there's an FBI website that lists them), she's not undercover, disguised or in hiding. She lives free-as-a-bird in the capital city of a country ruled by a close strategic ally of the United States.

Starting in January 2018, the US State Department began offering a reward of "up to $5 Million" for the capture and conviction of this Jordanian Islamist. But as we have come to understand, so long as she stays within Jordan's borders, she is safe from the US legal system.

That's not how the US officially looks at this. All its relevant agencies say she needs to be handed over to US law enforcement and taken to a Federal courthouse in Washington for trial.

So why doesn't that happen?

It's not because she's hard to find. Journalists tell us her home address in Jordan's capital is well known. Associated Press had no problem at all arranging a video interview which its people recorded in her living room a while back. Aljazeera has made her the focus of several adulatory, in-person, long-form interviews (here for instance) for its television and print media platforms. For five years starting in September 2012, she was the presenter of her own weekly made-in-Jordan television show, sponsored by Hamas and robustly advocating terrorism and the rights of imprisoned terrorists.

And it's certainly not because the authorities in Jordan are unaware of the seriousness of the charges against her. She has confessed repeatedly to killing Israelis and Jews and makes a point of explaining that she has no regrets at all. In front of the cameras, she has said she would "do it again today".

All well and good.

But the reason she doesn't have to cover her tracks or watch her back is because the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan explicitly protects her.

Tamimi found it expedient to praise Jordan's king when his courts blocked
her extradition to the US
She's a resistance hero in their lethally-dishonest lexicon. She managed to kill an extraordinary number of innocent Israelis and Jews, half of them children. Watch her make that clear in this video interview (starting about 1m30s into the clip). Among Jordanians at every level of their society, she enjoys incredible popularity.

The presenter of a popular TV show said it clearly a year ago on Jordan's most watched channel:
You, the people of the struggle, elevate the name of Jordan!” 
To be clear, "the people of the struggle" she's referring to are Ahlam Tamimi and her cousin Nizar Tamimi who is also her husband. He is aligned with Fatah; she is heart-and-soul for Hamas. Both are committed, unrepentant terrorists and convicted killers. And both walked free the same day in the catastrophic October 2011 Shalit Deal.

The life of our daughter Malki, just 15, was one of the many snuffed out by this hideous woman. That's the principal reason we are so sharply focused on her undeserved freedom and the almost entirely unreported details of how she stays free.

It's been a hugely frustrating process - but there has been significant progress. Since March 14, 2017, there have serious US criminal charges against her that if proven will likely mean she is locked away for the rest of her life.

The US has for decades had an extradition treaty with Jordan, and has called on Jordan to respect it in the Tamimi case as it has on every previous occasion when the US has invoked the treaty. Jordan refuses.

This has some puzzling aspects worth pondering:
  1. The United States which wants her arrested and extradited to Washington where she faces trial is blocked from getting what it wants. Yet the US is by far Jordan's largest provider of security and aid funds.
  2. Jordan's economy is "among the smallest in the Middle East, with insufficient supplies of water, oil, and other natural resources, underlying the government's heavy reliance on foreign assistance" [CIA]. A 2018 survey says of Jordan that its "Debt is 95 per cent of GDP. Unemployment was 18.7 per cent during the last quarter; youth unemployment has reached 35 per cent" [Irish Times]. And not surprisingly, "Public dissatisfaction with the economy is a pressing concern for the monarchy." [Congressional Research Service, December 4, 2019]
  3. Since it provides the safety net that keeps the kingdom going, the US could easily exert pressure of the kind that would bring Jordan to comply with the 1995 Clinton-era Extradition Treaty. But it doesn’t
  4. And Jordan, massively dependent on American largess, could be expected to overcome its enthusiasm for killers of Jewish children and hand this one over. But it doesn’t.
  5. Jordan's highest court declared the 1995 treaty unconstitutional and unenforceable ["20-Mar-17: The Hashemite Kingdom's courts have spoken: The murdering FBI fugitive will not be handed over"] nearlly three years ago. That sudden and somewhat surprising ruling came less than a week after the US Federal terrorism charges against Tamimi were unveiled by the Department of Justice in Washington. The court held that the treaty ought to have been ratified by the Jordanian parliament as required by the kingdom's constitution but wasn't. 
  6. We argued in an opinion piece ["30-May-19: Paris, Amman, Washington: Extradition and what it can reveal about governments and terror"] that Jordan's approach to another of its extradition treaties - with France - shows how unlikely that Tamimi case decision is. There's much that's quite absurd aboout Jordan's legal argument including the reality that its parliament (meaning its king) could have arranged the ratification at any time since 1995 and could do it today too. But of course they won't. And of course no journalist is going to point this out.
  7. The United States after initially avoiding any direct comment on Jordan's obstinacy finally said last month - openly, leaving little room for doubt - that its treaty with Jordan is valid and that it rejects Jordan's claims to the contrary: see "03-Nov-19: In Washington, a step towards bringing the Sbarro bomber to justice". Nonetheless the US continues to tolerate Jordan's open breach. For all practical purposes, the US is doing nothing to press for Tamimi's extradition.
  8. Jordan, while avoiding any official comment on the matter, has acted as if there is no obligation for it to extradite and still does. The treaty was invalid from the day it was signed in mid-1995 said a panel of its most senior judges. But its diplomats (special mention to Ambassador Dina Kawar and her colleagues in the kingdom's Washington embassy) and politicians, all evidently aware of the rules of this sordid game, avoided all comment. The media co-operated, and still do, by keeping the egregiious and damaging breach out of the news. With one significant exception - an excellent news report written by Amir Tibon, Haaretz's Washington correspondent just a month ago ["U.S. Rejects Jordan's Refusal to Extradite Hamas Terrorist Wanted for Trial"]. We quoted it at length in this post of ours: "12-Nov-19: On Jordan, the US and the children killed in a pizzeria". 
  9. Perhaps because of the Haaretz piece, Jordan's official silence on how it safeguards Tamimi ended just a few days later. We described how in an open letter addressed to one of Jordan's longest-serving cabinet ministers, Ayman Safadi: "13-Nov-19: Thank you, Mr Foreign Minister". In it, we focus on an Arabic news report published on November 12, 2019 in a prominent Jordanian paper, under the headline "Safadi: We have received US requests to extradite Ahlam al-Tamimi. We confirm our commitment to the law that prevents it". The title says it all, leaving not much room for doubt about where Jordan stands.
The fugitive bomber, Ahlam Tamimi, has been cheerily public about her gratitude, along with her family, to Jordan's court and especially to King Abdullah II himself, for saving her from trial in Washington. His Majesty, after all, appoints all the judges, replaces prime ministers at will, controls the army, and decides whether to extradite or refuse. It's a kingdom with a very distinct center of power.

But something's just changed.

In the past week, Jordan's boastful Islamist has gone public in the Arabic-language media with  comments sharply critical of her king and protector. In an op ed on Arabi21, an online, pan-Arab news platform, and without naming him, she compares King Abdullah II unfavorably with his late father, King Hussein. The claim of her December 3, 2019 piece is that Jordan's government is not doing enough to secure the release of twenty-some Jordanians held in Israeli prisons. Jordan's official media mouth-piece calls them "detainees". (We're preparing some background notes now about the monsters among them and how it happens that they are imprisoned. Arab calls to free Arab prisoners from their Israeli cells, as Tamimi herself was, invariably skip the part about what they did to earn their lengthy prison terms.)

Writing under the provocative title "If Hussein were alive, the captives would be free", Tamimi says Jordan ought to force Israel to do a deal, trading an Israeli who is currently on trial in Amman for the captive Jordanians in Israel:
What Jordanians cannot understand is why Jordan hasn’t considered swapping the Zionist infiltrator [Konstantin Kotov] in its custody for 21 Jordanian prisoners in the custody of the Zionist entity... The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan must bear in mind the words of His Majesty the late King Hussein Bin Talal, "Man is the most precious thing we have" to take an historic stance for its citizens locked in the prisons of the Zionist occupation... [Machine-translated from Arabic]
A Tamimi tweet (translated below) from an account that Twitter has
so far refused to shut down
In simpler terms, she's saying Jordan's current king isn't pressing for Jordanian prisoners to be released but if he were alive today, his father would have. In a country with an exceptionally unfree media, this is startling.

And it's gotten traction. Among the Arabic publications that have re-published Tamimi's op ed: Abu Dhabi NewsAl Hayat News (Jordan), Palestine Online (PA), Akhbar Al Balad News (Jordan), Sabq News (Saudi Arabia), Al BidaaShehab News (Palestine), Rawafed News.

She has been critical of Abdullah in her personal Twitter account as well. (As an aside, each time we have referred Twitter management to Tamimi's Twitter accounts, they have shut them down - in 2017, for instance. As of this writing, they are refusing to shut down this latest one.)

Some of the Arabic tweets posted by Tamimi ten days ago (all machine-translated):
  • How frustrated Jordanian prisoners feel for their government's indifference to their fate [Tweet
  • The Jordanian government seems to believe the Zionist narrative that our prisoners live in five-star hotels [Tweet]
  • Had it not been for the government of Jordan, the Zionist Prison Service would not have secured our prisoners [Tweet] [Archived]
  • When the Jordanian government intensified its tricks, it organized a visit to a part of the Jordanian prisoners in 2008 while the rest were ignored [Tweet] [Archived]
  • The lives of Jordanian prisoners in the occupation prisons is a suspended death [Tweet][Archived]
  • The permanent question is what did the Jordanian prisoners benefit from the Wadi Araba agreement? [referring to the still-current 1994 Jordan/Israel peace treaty] [Tweet[Archived]
The State Department's Rewards for Justice unit
currently offers a $5M bounty for Tamimi's capture and conviction
How confident of her position Tamimi must be if she can launch a public attack on the monarch who, more than anyone else, is the reason she is free today and living under his protective rule. She evidently knows things about public opinion in Jordan that don't get well reported in the West.

Then again, she might not fully realize that if King Hussein, who made the 1995 treaty with Clinton, were alive today (he died in 1999), Tamimi would today be in chains somewhere inside the US penal system? Thanks to his son and the law courts that serve him, she's outrageously free enough to publish op eds, to appear on pan-Arab TV networks and to be the poster child for Islamist bigotry, terrorism and the redemptive power of murdering Jewish children.

A larger puzzle is why do Jordan's king and his many backers and apologists in US politics [see "09-Nov-19: Another delegation from US Congress at Jordan's royal court. Did extradition come up?"] continue to make this possible? Why is Tamimi still free, still toxic, still living her dream?

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

03-Dec-19: Tuesday morning on Israel's Jordan border

Israeli visitors undergo inspection by Jordanian border officials
this morning. Image Source: David Ben-Zion, Israel Hayom
Another instance today of the ugly petty bigotry that characterizes a great deal of the daily contact Israelis have with Jordan: 
Hamodia | Jordan to Israeli Deputy Mayors: No Kippot, Tzitzis Allowed | Dov Benovadia | Tuesday, December 3, 2019
A large group of Israeli deputy mayors, mostly from religious and chareidi communities, were prevented from entering Jordan Tuesday morning – because some were wearing tzitzis. Entry would not be allowed until the tzitzis were removed, the members of the group were told. The Foreign Ministry said it was “examining” the incident.
The incident occurred at about 7:30 a.m., Yisrael Hayom reported, when the group gathered at the crossing point into Jordan at the border between Israel and Jordan east of Eilat. On the Jordanian side of the Gulf of Eilat is the city of Aqaba, with the Israeli group intending to visit Petra. Members of the delegation had been told in advance to wear hats or caps to hide their kippot – for security purposes, of course – but were shocked to discover that they were refused entry because some were wearing tzitzis.
The presence of the tzitzis set off the Jordanian security guards, witnesses told the newspaper. The guards forced all members of the group to go through a security check three times, and also forced all of them to remove their clothing. “They did this to all of us, even those who could not be suspected of wearing tzitzis – there were deputy mayors from Abu Ghosh and other Arab towns here,” one member of the delegation said. “The feeling was one of abuse and an effort to make us suffer. It appeared to be a strongly anti-Semitic act. All the other groups – Ukranians, Koreans, and more – went in without even one security check.
“There is supposed to be a peace agreement with Jordan, but I know of no other country where Jews are treated like this for their religious practices,” the delegation member told the newspaper. “The demand that we take off tzitzis in order to enter Jordan is nothing less than anti-Semitic, and another sign of how real the ‘peace’ we have with them is. I can only imagine how the Israeli Foreign Ministry would fall all over itself apologizing if something was done that was perceived to be anti-Christian or anti-Muslim,” he added.
And this tweet:
Our translation:
An incident at the crossing with Jordan: Tens of religious and Haredi deputy mayors were asked to remove their tzitziyot [ritual fringes prescribed by halacha - Jewish religious law] and their kippot in order to enter Jordan. They refused heatedly and the Jordanians prohibited their entry. Itzik Ohana.
And this from Israel Hayom:
For security reasons, they had agreed to replace their skullcaps with hats for the duration of the visit, but when they arrived at the Jordanian side of the border, they were refused entry over the fact that some of them were wearing a tzitzit – the specially knotted ritual fringes – under their clothes...
"During the first security check, we were told [by Jordanian border security] to take off our kippot and put hats on instead," Givatayim Deputy Mayor Moshe Goldstein told Israel Hayom. "When the security screening was over, they stop us again because they realized some in the group were wearing a tzitzit. They even took aside the women and made then undress." "After the second inspection, they still weren't pleased and asked the entire group to wait for a third security screening. At this point, our guide said that they [border security] contacted Amman for approval and that we had to sign something saying we were only going to visit Petra and nothing else.
"At that point, we just decided to go back to Eilat. The atmosphere was harsh and alienating and our religious friends were greatly offended," he said.
The fact that the group was denied entry and the multiple security screenings are especially odd given that the tzitzit is not a visible religious garment. According to Goldstein, the group included Arab deputy mayors as well. "The whole thing just felt like harassment. It felt like anti-Semitism."
David Ben-Zion, deputy head of the Samaria Regional Council, said, "The whole experience was humiliating – it felt like a national humiliation. Even the secular members of the group were furious about it," he said.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

27-Nov-19: The Washington Institute has a response. Not to us, but yes: a response.

From today's Jewish Insider mailer
If you have followed the irritating way the Washington Institute for Near East Policy honored Jordan's king a week ago while simply ignoring the polite and relevant -- and even important -- comments we sent them and published, you may be interested in their somewhat delayed response.

No, they didn't respond to us. Neither today nor ever. We see that as being self-evidently shabby and counter to their professed values. It really speaks for itself.

But that's not our focus.

Today, a journalist whom we approached at Jewish Insider published a brief summary of what we have been saying about the Washington Institute's choice of honoree and then asked its executive director to react.

Which he did.

Here's the text as published some hours ago in a longer piece under the headline "INTERVIEW | Washington Institute’s Rob Satloff on honoring King Abdullah II" in Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff mailer to its subscribers:
Pointed criticism: Arnold and Frimet Roth, the parents of U.S.-born [sic] Malki Roth — who was killed in the 2001 terror attack at the Sbarro's pizzeria in Jerusalem — penned an op-ed criticizing The Washington Institute’s decision to honor the Hashemite ruler. The Roths argued that the Jordanian king shouldn’t be feted while he refuses to extradite Ahlam Tamimi — a Jordanian national convicted for her role in the Sbarro bombing and freed in the Gilad Shalit deal — to face U.S. federal charges. 
Satloff’s response: “I am very proud of hosting the King of Jordan, who has steadfastly remained committed to the Jordan-Israel peace treaty throughout the 20 years on the throne and has been an important partner with the U.S. on a broad range of security and strategic matters throughout the Middle East. I have great sympathy for the issue that [the Roths] raised and believe it deserves high-level engagement by the appropriate American authorities with the appropriate Jordanian authorities. It is one important item on a lengthy agenda of bilateral relations.”
He has "great sympathy for the issue" which might mean something sincere and human and (bearing in mind that he hasn't given us the time of day) might not. But really, the head of the Washington Institute seems to be saying, the Roths' concern isn't our concern. It's other people's.

Got it, Dr Satloff.

As parents of a murdered American citizen whose confessed killer is the subject of a years-long effort by the FBI and the Department of Justice to have her extradited to Washington, there's room to wonder how your personal viewpoint as resident Jordan expert at your workplace (and its long-time executive head as well) fits its mission statement
"...to articulate a coherent and realistic view of U.S. national interests..."
One of the last photos we have of Malki, from
a family celebration
More than that: it's startling to realize that the murder of several US women by a big-mouthed, remarkably upbeat and enthusiastic Islamist Jordanian is so far outside your interpretation of your own raison d'etre that you're fine with lavishly honoring the autocrat who keeps her safe and out of US clutches.

While pointedly ignoring us, the grieving and justice-minded parents of one of her innocent victims.

We will leave the figuring out of all this to others.

Bottom line: sometimes it helps just to know how influential and ostensibly thoughtful people actually think.

But it's nonetheless a shame (that's an apt word in this context) that the troubling questions about honor, justice and decency we raised here and about which you are utterly silent remain unanswered. And seem likely to stay that way.