Saturday, February 13, 2016

13-Feb-16: Three decades after a terror attack on a Paris restaurant, some things remain just as they were

Chez Jo Goldenberg, Paris [Wikipedia]
One of the tragic milestones of modern Jewish life in France is back in the news today. And as we note below, this says something about the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan that most people - and especially the foreign policy experts of the United States - prefer not to know.

Chez Jo Goldenberg, a restaurant that no longer exists, was mentioned in an earlier post of ours ["20-Jun-14: Does Europe face the most serious terror threat ever? At CNN, they say yes and explain (poorly) why"] that looked at the decades-long history of lethal Islamist bigotry and terror directed at European targets. 

That June 2014 blog post was our reaction to some sadly superficial mainstream journalism suggesting that certain acts of terror that year - in particular the shooting murders at the Jewish museum in the Belgian capital - amounted to an "early indicator" that Islamism-in-Europe was becoming a serious problem and that it needed attention because, well, things might get worse.

An early indicator? That's absurd. Our point was that it is highly misleading - at least - to depict very recent European violence done in the name of Islam by Islamist terrorists as something new and freshly threatening. In reality, decades of acts of murderous violence have been directed at European targets by Islamists. We quoted a handful of examples. Then we said:
These instances are literally selected at random. The list of Islamism-driven attacks and attempted attacks of a terrorist nature on European targets is lengthy. It's not possible that the people at CNN are seriously suggesting this is a new process with its origins in the last eight weeks. We think a big part of Europe's problem - apart from a serious case of historical amnesia - is a self-imposed stupidity on this subject. Will Europe recover in time to address the very real existential challenges it faces? 
Events of the past few months show that addressing those challenges has not gone so well. Consider, in France alone, the bloodbath of the Friday 13th attacks in Paris this past November with 130 killed via multiple attacks on bars, a sports stadium and a concert hall. ["Paris attacks: What happened on the night", BBC]; the cold-blooded killings of Jewish hostages in a Paris kosher food store ["Paris killer asked victims if they were Jewish before firing", Times of Israel] in February 2015; the savage January 2015 murders at a French satirical magazine ["As it happened: Charlie Hebdo attack", BBC] also in Paris.

If being ready for "worse" means lower death tolls, then let's agree something is not working.

Goldenberg's was one of those now-mostly-forgotten "acts of murderous violence directed at European targets... from Islamist sources" that we mentioned in that June 2014 post:
The August 9, 1982 Chez Jo Goldenberg restaurant attack in Paris: Islamist terrorists threw a grenade into the dining room and fired machine guns on a Jewish restaurant in Paris's Marais district, on 9 August 1982. They killed six people, including two American tourists, and injured 22 others - "the heaviest toll suffered by Jews in France since World War II".
Until it closed its doors for the last time in 2006, Goldenberg's (inaccurately described in many accounts - including the New York Times, AFP,  and others - as a kosher restaurant; it was not kosher, and did business on Sabbaths, but was proudly Jewish) served as a reminder of a different France, one barely recognizable in the country of the same name today.
Until the late 1990s its homely red banquettes attracted government ministers, film stars and celebrities dining on caviar, herrings, goulash or its famous chopped liver. On the Pletzl - Yiddish for square - Goldenberg's was symbolic of a neighbourhood where thousands of eastern European Jews arrived from the late 19th century, and which was the focus of Nazi round-ups during the occupation of Paris in the second world war. More than half of the local Jewish community would die in concentration camps. The restaurant founded by Jo Goldenberg, who lost his parents and all his sisters in Auschwitz, became a symbol of resistance and revival, a meeting place for Holocaust survivors and former resistance fighters. ["For Paris's Jewish quarter, a fight to save its soul", The Guardian, March 6, 2008]
France had some 700,000 Jews in 1982 (530,000 according to a different 1982 source) when heavily-armed terrorists of the Abu Nidal Group attacked Goldenberg's. Today's French Jewish population is estimated at about 478,000 [a 2013 source] and declining according to all observers.

Terror attacks directed at Jews and Israelis have a long French history. In their Arab/Islamist chapter an El Al passenger jet came under terrorist attack at Paris' Orly Airport more than forty years ago: hostages were taken, amid machine gun, bazooka and grenade fire (with the French government quickly providing the terrorists with safe passage via a plane that flew them safely to Baghdad). Yasser Arafat's PLO terrorists attacked Iraq's Paris embassy in July 1978 and seized hostages - evidently in an effort to persuade the same Abu Nidal Group to stop besmirching the good name of the Palestinians. And the Islamists of Hezbollah had launched multiple terror attacks on the streets of Paris, and especially in its large department stores, by the mid-eighties (Wikipedia listing of terror attacks in France). That's more than three decades ago.

Fast forward to this past week's news, and its background.

Nearly a year ago, the French police announced that they had
at last identified three suspects and are seeking their arrest. Grenade-throwing Palestinians burst into the Jo Goldenberg deli on August 9, 1982, and sprayed machine-gun fire. Six people, including two Americans, were killed, and 21 injured. The restaurant, which has since closed, was a centerpiece tourist attraction in the famed Marais neighborhood. Paris prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said Wednesday that international arrest warrants have been issued for the three suspects — now aged in their late 50s and early 60s — who were believed to be members of the Abu Nidal group. She says they are believed to be in the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Norway but declined to identify them by name, citing protocol. ["Suspects identified in deadly 1982 Paris Jewish deli attack", Times of Israel, March 4, 2015]
Then a day or two later it was revealed that
Jordan has rejected an extradition request from France for two suspects accused of carrying out [the] 1982 deadly attack... The alleged mastermind of the attack,,, Zuhair Mohamad al-Abassi, 62, was arrested in Jordan last year. The request was rejected because at the time of his arrest an extradition deal between Jordan and France had not entered into force, the source said... Jordan has also refused to hand over a second suspect, Nizar Tawfiq Hamada, 54, because the statute of limitations concerning the criminal allegations against him expired, the source said. The decision was taken in October, four months after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius urged Jordan to "respect international procedure" by extraditing Abbasi and Hamada. David Pere, a lawyer for the AFVT association that represents French victims of terrorism, said he was "astounded" by the Jordanian decision. "We were expecting the Jordanian authorities to send a strong message in the fight against terrorism," Pere said. He said Amman's decision not to extradite the pair was a "political" one aimed at "keeping social peace in Jordan"... ["Jordan rejects 1982 Paris attack suspects extradition", AFP, February 10, 2016]
So some things don't change.

And as for that comment above about the Jordanians needing to keep "social peace", that reflects some serious observations about the Hashemite Kingdom that we have addressed ourselves in the past. [Click here for our previous posts tagged with "Jordan"].

People who watch these things, and we are among them, know Jordan enjoys a special place in the affections of the US State Department. State's most recent "Country Reports on Terrorism" annual survey, published in June 2015, says of the Hashemite Kingdom:
Jordan remained a key ally and a model partner in combating terrorism and extremist ideology... Jordan demonstrated regional leadership in the fight against ISIL... and participated fully on the diplomatic, political, financial, and military fronts... Jordanian prisons have a religiously based de-radicalization program that seeks to re-engage violent extremist inmates into the non-violent mainstream of their faith.
There's much we want to say about that key ally but for now we will be brief.

Jordan legislated its first anti-terrorism law in 2006, a year after a series of terrorist bomb blasts at three Amman hotels that killed dozens of people.
Under the new law, penalties for terrorist acts range from 10 years in prison to the death penalty, and the definition of terrorism has been expanded to include any act meant to create sedition, harm property or jeopardise international relations, or to use the Internet or media outlets to promote "terrorist" thinking. [Aljazeera, April 25, 2014]
That law has since undergone changes (summarized in this April 2014 AFP syndicated report) to take account of current, very real threats facing the Kingdom and its ruler, and made concrete by the hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of Jordanians who have joined the ranks of the various Islamist forces engaging in the ongoing Syrian bloodbath. King Abdullah II signed those changes into law at the end of May 2014 ["Jordan amends, widens its anti-terrorism laws", Associated Press, June 1, 2014].

Massive political demonstration by members of Jordan's Muslim
Brotherhood, July 31, 2015 [Image Source: Getty]
But what the State Department report - and Aljazeera as well - fails to mention is how Jordan has carefully defined terror over the years so that acts of violence directed at Israelis are specifically, by definition, never to be considered terror. For instance:
Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism of 1999 (Ratified 28 Aug. 2003): "Jordan does not consider national armed struggle and fighting foreign occupation in the exercise of people’s right to self-determination as terrorist acts under art. 2(1)(b)" [Source]
Jordan's creativity with the definition of terror is not new and hardly a secret, but largely ignored nonetheless. Jordan's failure to hand over the alleged perpetrators of the 1982 Paris savagery is more of the same, and not so surprising.

At a very personal level, we wish there was much wider awareness of how Jordan has provided a friendly environment since 2011 for the woman who masterminded the murder of our daughter, allowing her to operate freely from within Jordan's borders; to speak as an honored guest at its universities, professional guilds, law courts and other venues; to record her television program "Naseem Al Ahrar" (translation: “Breezes of the Free”) week after week for beaming out to the Arabic-speaking world throughout the past 4 years; and to emerge as a genuine pan-Arab celebrity.

The convicted mastermind of the massacre in Jerusalem in which our
daughter was murdered, along with 14 other innocents. The confessed killer 
hosts a weekly TV show that is recorded every week in Jordan 
Touted as the first female terrorist to join the ranks of Hamas, this Jordanian woman advocates unhindered from Jordan today for more violence, more murder and more jihad - all of it directed at Jewish and Israeli targets. Inciting energetically via television, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and well-publicized personal appearances, she is a widely-recognized, very public face of the violent, Islamist bigotry of Hamas.

Hamas was formally banned in Jordan in 1999, and continues to have the status of an outlawed entity. However the Muslim Brotherhood - to which Hamas owes allegiance, as the Hamas Charter says explicitly - operates freely within Jordan. Reuters described the Brotherhood in August 2014 as "the ideological counterpart to Hamas and Jordan's largest political group". It is today a "major player" in the Jordanian political scene.

Perhaps the French will have some views to share with the US now on this "model partner".

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

09-Feb-16: The unthinkable things Palestinian Arab society wants for and from its children

Video grab depicts  passionate toddler explaining
what she wishes Palestinian Arabs would do to
 the Jews
[Source: Palestinian Media Watch clip - 
here]
Is there a name for the psychological condition that holds an entire society in its grip, causing it to invest its children in a death cult that will certainly lead to the deaths of many of those children, and to the justification of those deaths on the grounds that the enemy's children are harmed, injured and/or killed?

In the past five days alone:
  • A Palestinian teen girl attempted to stab Israeli troops at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate on Tuesday morning, police said. The suspect, 16, was arrested after pulling a knife on border guards when they asked to search her, police said. There were no Israeli injuries reported. “The police reacted quickly, pushed her away and subdued her,” a police spokesperson said. Police said the teenager, a student, had concealed the knife in her backpack. When police asked to search her bag, she pulled the knife “and tried to stab the policemen,” police said. [Source]
  • [Also today, a] Palestinian teenage girl armed with a knife was detained outside the West Bank settlement of Carmei Tzur. The girl, said to be around 13, was arrested by the security guard at the entrance of the settlement in the Etzion bloc.  [Source]
  • An 11-year-old Jewish boy was stabbed and wounded Monday [February 8, 2016] in an attack in the central Israeli town of Ramle. The attacker fled the scene, apparently toward the Jawaresh neighborhood of the city. The boy was hospitalized with moderate injuries, the Magen David Adom emergency service said. The child said that the assailant was an Arab. A 17-year-old Arab youth was arrested a short time later on suspicion of carrying out the attack. [Source]
  • [A] guard at the bus station in [Ramle] was lightly injured when he was stabbed by two 13-year-old girls in a nationalistic attack [on Thursday, February 4, 2016]. One of the girls’ mothers subsequently apologized for her daughter’s action. [Source] ...Central District spokesman Ch.-Supt. Ami Ben-David said that the two teens approached the metal detector at the entrance to the station around 10:30 Thursday morning, at which point the security guard asked them to show him identification. At that point the two girls pulled knives and stabbed the guard, lightly wounding him in the hand and leg, Ben-David said... One of the two girls was carrying a school backpack and a picture taken at the scene by a police photographer showed the contents of the bag scattered on the pavement, including schoolwork, a calculator, a juice bag and two knives. [Source]
There's quite a collection out there of human rights groups that claim to be working for the protection of Palestinian Arab children. The Ramallah-based Defence for Children International - Palestine, for instance, says this on its website
We defend children’s rights three ways: offering free legal aid, documenting violations of international law, and advocating for greater protections... [The organization] is committed to securing a just and viable future for Palestinian children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
A viable future? Greater protections? If they have commented on, let alone condemned, the systemic and systematic incitement of Palestinian Arab children to become martyrs and killers for their grandparents' society's glory, then they are being awfully quiet about it. If any reader knows of any instance of DCI-P criticizing the fostering among Pal Arab children of martyrdom/murder as supreme values, click here please to tell us.

Another instance: the phenomenally-well-funded Human Rights Watch, who write this on their "Children's rights" page:
Millions of children... are forced to serve as soldiers in armed conflict... Young and immature, they are often easily exploited. In many cases, they are abused by the very individuals responsible for their care. We are working to help protect children around the world, so they can grow into adults.
Since they speak of "easily exploited", they're surely enraged by what's being done to Palestinian Arab children by the religious, educational and political leaders of their communities. Because if they are, we're surely not seeing any sign of it. If anyone knows of HRW condemnation of the fostering among Pal Arab children of martyrdom/murder as supreme values, please click here to enlighten us.

Some months ago, we quoted here [20-Oct-15: Children and what a soulless society can do to them] the words of an acclaimed leader of oppressed people:
 "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." - Nelson Mandela 1918-2013, addressing the launch of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, Pretoria, South Africa, May 8, 1995 [source]
Not for the first time, we ask: where is UNICEFOr Save the Children, or Terre des Hommes, or the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement or even the dishonorable Amnesty International (on whom we have not yet entirely given up hope)? Or the other well-funded, high-profile public interest organizations that purport to care for the welfare of children but that take so little interest in the unfolding tragedy of the children of the Palestinian Arabs and the terror-obsessed jihadists cheating them of their future?

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

09-Feb-16: In Gush Etzion, another Arab-on-Israeli stabbing

The scene of the stabbing attack at Neve Daniel this evening
[Image Source]
The details are still sketchy, but it appears an Israeli was stabbed this afternoon at the entrance to the Israeli community of Neve Daniel (population: about 400 families) which abuts Highway 60 in Gush Etzion, a few minutes drive south of Jerusalem.

This source (in Hebrew) says the attacker fled into a nearby Arab village. First reports appeared around dusk, roughly 5:15 this afternoon (Tuesday). Details coming.

UPDATE Tuesday February 9, 2016 - 6:00 pm: The Israeli victim is described by Ynet as a 30-year-old man. He sustained knifing injuries to the head and shoulder and is classified as moderately injured:
The victim said he was running by himself near Neve Daniel when he was stabbed and that he continued onwards until the settlement's security guard noticed him and called for urgent help. The victim pointed towards the direction in which believed the terrorist fled, which was in the direction of [Nahalin (Arabic: نحالين‎) a close-by Arab settlement] - Ynet.
UPDATE  Tuesday February 9, 2016 - 7:00 pm: We know the identity of the Israeli victim. Times of Israel names him as Tomer Ditur, age 28, a resident of the nearby Gush Etzion-area kibbutz, Rosh Tzurim, An IDF spokesperson says the army has sealed off Nahalin as it searches for the knifer.

Monday, February 08, 2016

08-Feb-16: Terror is now a legitimate career option in Pal Arab society but its enablers barely notice

Arnold Roth speaks to Congressional committee - February 2, 2016 [Video]
Arnold Roth was called as a witness (as we noted here) to testify last week in Washington DC at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Subcommittee on National Security. 

The title given to the hearing was “Seeking Justice for Victims of Palestinian Terrorism in Israel”. As a report on the DailyCaller.com website put it, "From the hearing’s outset, the feelings of frustration from the committee and victims was evident."

Justice is a theme we feel gets far too little attention when the victims of terrorist savagery – and especially their rights - are considered.

Chaired by Congressman Ron DeSantis of Florida, the February 2nd enquiry had three stated goals:
  • To examine the role of the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT)
  • To highlight the threat of terrorism to Americans in Israel
  • To examine U.S. policy for prosecuting overseas terrorists in the United States
It heard four oral presentations. In order, they were delivered by Brad Wiegmann, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division - Department of Justice; Sarri Singer who founded and manages Strength to Strength, a not-for-profit that bring victims of terrorism together to share and grow from their experiences; Peter Schwartz whose nephew Ezra was murdered in a November 2015 terror attack in Gush Etzion [our post]; and Arnold Roth.

Below is an edited version of Arnold Roth’s written testimony [the version filed with the Committee is here]. Ordinary people like us rarely get the chance to speak to the truly powerful - we hope readers will keep that in mind even as we apologize for publishing what is almost certainly the lengthiest post in this blog's ten year history.
* * *
My name is Arnold Roth. I live in Jerusalem. My daughter Malki was murdered there in a Hamas bombing attack on August 9, 2001. She was 15.

I appreciate very much the invitation to testify from the very specific vantage point of a close-knit family devastated by an act of murder driven by terrorism. The death of a young child is generally regarded as one of the most challenging traumatic experiences life can serve up. Check with Amazon; there is a wide literature that guides parents who find themselves in that awful position. A smaller number of books exists that seek to comfort the parents of a child killed by a criminal act. But the death of a child by terrorists has sharp, painful angles to it that defy book-laden advice. If there is a literature of help for parents like my wife and me, it’s a tiny bookshelf. And being able to read Hebrew is an advantage.

Practically everything I know about terrorism and its victims I learned through the prism of Malki’s murder. Thank you for the opportunity you have afforded me to share some of the things I have learned, and the facts that underpin them.

I want to relate to four matters that I believe ought to affect the decisions you as legislators will consider in evaluating the subject matter of this hearing: 
  1. Incitement: The ongoing encouragement to do more acts of terror that is rampant throughout Palestinian Arab society, starting at its politically-highest levels and extending out through the conventional media, and the social media.  
  2. Enablement: Money, where it comes from, how it’s spent, and the maneuvers of those who want to conceal its role. 
  3.  The troublesome matter of defining terrorism, calling it by its name [see our post "18-Feb-15: Countering Vacuous Euphemisms"] and why this is so hard for important parts of Western societies to do. 
  4.  Practical issues that may lead to a better return on effort invested by the Congress, by the Department of Justice and by the Administration in aid of the needs of victims of overseas terror.
Justice
But for the winter storm and heavy snows that paralyzed the area, this hearing would have taken place a week earlier, on Wednesday January 27, which is Holocaust Memorial Day. President Obama honored that day by takingpart in the “Righteous Among the Nations Award Ceremony” at Israel’s Washington embassy.

Because I was in Jerusalem that day, and not already here in Washington, I caught a sound bite via an Israeli news program radio:
[W]e’re called to live in a way that shows that we’ve actually learned from our past.  And that means rejecting indifference.  It means cultivating a habit of empathy, and recognizing ourselves in one another…  It means taking a stand against bigotry in all its forms, and rejecting our darkest impulses and guarding against tribalism as the only value in our communities and in our politics… That’s how we never forget - not simply by keeping the lessons of the Shoah in our memories, but by living them in our actions.  As the book of Deuteronomy teaches us, “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof” - “Justice, Justice you shall pursue.”   …May the memory of the lost be a blessing. And as nations and individuals, may we always strive be among the Righteous.  [Transcript of President Obama’s January 27, 2016 speech via Yad Vashem]

Tzedek, Tzedek tirdof”. The quotation is of course Biblical. But almost any Hebrew speaking child in a Jerusalem elementary school today will understand the words with no problem. Our language, along with the values it embodies, has deep roots.

But even for those with no Hebrew language skills, it’s striking that one word is said twice in the three word phrase: it’s the word for “justice”, tzedek. What’s more, Hebrew uses the same word, tzedek, for both justice and righteousness.

Jewish tradition, noticing the evident redundancy of that verse from Deuteronomy, extracts a simple message of timeless inspiration: When you do justice, do it in a just and righteous way.

The phrase quoted by the President from Deuteronomy 16 calling on society to appoint judges who will carry out righteous judgment is followed by a simple statement of why: “…That you may live”.

Justice is not meant to be only for the victims of injustice. It is for the larger society in which they and we engage and interact. Doing justice right, doing it justly, doing it with righteousness, is the way we ensure that all of us - individuals and communities - can live.

Justice is not vengeance. It’s about putting things right in the name of society’s shared values and hopes.

OVT
It’s a universal reality that terror victims, no matter where, go through an intensely personal , often lonely and isolating, process of dealing with the loss and pain and insult and sense of violation. They need support. Often they need advocates.

Created by the Koby Mandell Act of 2005, OVT is exemplary in the way it addresses the core needs the primary parts of which its website describes this way
  • To work to ensure that where Americans are injured or killed in terrorist attacks overseas, investigation and prosecution remain a high priority within the Department of Justice  
  • To monitor the investigation and prosecution of terrorist attacks against Americans abroad in both foreign and the United States criminal justice systems 
  • To work to ensure that the rights of victims and their families are honored and respected throughout the criminal justice system.
In formally announcing its establishment back in May 2005, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales captured well the optimism that many of us felt: 
“This new office guarantees a voice for victims and their families in the investigation and prosecution of terrorists who prey on Americans overseas,” said Attorney General Gonzales. “Our commitment to these victims is as strong as our dedication to bringing their terrorist attackers to justice.”
And in the Implementation Memo, issued by the Attorney General in May 2005, specific guidelines were issued that spoke of a significant commitment of resources and effort... [extracted here] These pieces collectively form the components of a valuable mission that brings tremendous credit on its authors and does substantial good.

In reaching out to the OVT and in our dealings with its officers and with the DOJ at large, there is no doubt we encountered unfailing courtesy and got respectful hearings. But it has to be said that tangible results have been in short supply. We have learned far more, for instance, over the past decade about our daughter’s killers from YouTube and Twitter than from updates received from the OVT.  To say it bluntly, I am sorry to report that there have been no updates.

I imagine providing people like us with updates from time to time on the things being done by the DOJ and various operational agencies imposes a heavy load on the OVT. But if this is not what the OVT exists to do, then in light of what we know of its raison d’etre, what are we entitled to expect from it?

The OVT brochure
Last week, in advance of coming here, I looked carefully at the Rewards for Justice website, which  is listed and linked to under “Resources” on OVT’s website. I remember that in the past it had a full page devoted to my daughter’s murder but I found that that is now gone. Malki is not mentioned anywhere. While I can think of reasons why, even while being surprised about it, I was astonished to see that across the entire web site, the word Israel now appears exactly three times. (One of those is when a Palestinian Arab terrorist, born in 1936, is described as being born in “Jaffa, Israel”. 1936, of course, is a dozen years before the state of Israel was established.) Why the change? I do not know.

I was puzzled by another observation: an OVT brochure (on the right) providing basic information about OVT’s work was sent to us some years ago. (I am unsure about the exact dates.) Then a fresher version came into my possession. The two look almost identical, except that the later version omits the section entitled “What are the rights of victims of overseas terrorism?”, which describes several of those rights. While the mandate of the OVT did not change in the intervening years, the message to terror victims evidently did. I can offer no explanation for this.

If the explanation for the scaling-down of a focus on terror attacks in Israel is that matters of state and diplomacy trump the rights of parents of an American citizen to be kept informed, then it would help us manage our own expectations, and reduce the emotional wear-and-tear of a very challenging situation, if someone in authority would speak up and tell us that.

In the particular circumstances of the terrorism that turned my family’s life upside down, we are left with a sense that things could have been managed differently and with greater and better effect.

A massacre by terrorists
The circumstances of the massacre in the heart of Israel’s national capital on August 9, 2001 that eventually brought me here today are well enough documented that they can be summarized in just a few points [background here].
  • A cluster of jihadists dispatched by Hamas attacked the local branch of the Sbarro pizzeria chain on a hot Thursday afternoon during the school summer vacation. A human bomb was brought there from Ramallah by the chief planner of the operation. She had tried, and failed, to carry out another lethal explosion just days earlier inside a downtown supermarket by means of an explosive-filled beer can. This time, her bomb, prepared by an expert in such matters, was carefully concealed within a guitar case. And her target was thoughtfully selected, after several site visits she made to central Jerusalem, for the maximum number of Jewish children who could be killed in a single blow.
  • She planted the bomb – a human bomb – and instructed him to wait until she was safely out of range and able to flee back to Ramallah. She described to a clearly delighted Arabic television interviewer in July 2012 [video] how the initial results of the explosion reached her inside an Arab taxi making its way out of Jerusalem, how the details of the steadily mounting death toll coming in over the radio filled her with joy and how the strangers traveling in the vehicle with her began smiling and cheering as the scale of the carnage became known.
  • The death toll grew to fifteen people by that evening with tens of dozens of people injured, mostly women and children - which was always the plan. Two Americans were among the dead, one of them my Malki, the other Judith Hayman Greenbaum and the unborn first baby she was carrying. A third American woman, Joanne Finer Nachenberg, remains unconscious in a vegetative state more than 14 years later. The two-year old daughter she brought into Sbarro that day has been raised without a mother.
  • That chief planner, the woman I have been mentioning, was 21 years old. Besides studying journalism, she had an evening job reading the news for a Palestinian Arab TV station. That day, she impassively reported the killings on camera that evening, giving no outward sign of the excitement she felt. It’s possible she was the first news presenter in history to have been the central figure in the day’s major story about which she was reading aloud the details. 
  • She was subsequently arrested, indicted, tried, imprisoned (for no fewer than 16 terms of life imprisonment), freed – but never pardoned - as part of a massive deal with Hamas to secure the life of an Israeli hostage, and sent back to Jordan, the land of her birth and of her parents and siblings and where she had lived almost all her life. 
  • There, after barely eight years in an Israeli prison, she has been transformed into a uniquely bizarre form of public figure – a mass murderer who regrets no aspect except that she wished the death toll were higher; whose success has made her a figure of adulation across the Middle East and beyond; who today skillfully leverages television and the social media – Twitter and Facebook, in particular – to proselytize for more killings and for greater support for those caught trying to do them. I think the public platform at her disposal and the extraordinary megaphone it gives her are literally unique in the annals of sociopathy.
Malki
Nothing is more about business and less about feelings and sentiment than a legislative chamber. But the people who make laws are people, and people are the sum total of the humanity inside them.

I therefore permit myself, as a witness testifying before this Committee, to describe Malki briefly. She is the reason I am heremy exuberant,ever-smiley daughter, bursting with the love of life and who is eternally going to be three months short of the sixteenth birthday we never celebrated.

But since addressing the beauty of her life is hard to do on paper or briefly, I want to mention just two particular aspects of it.

First, her song. In her tenth grade class at school, the girls were invited to take part in a contest. Those who could compose music, should do that. Those who could write accompanying words were advised to try. Those who could sing should sing. Malki never mentioned this competition to us, or the fact that she had embarked on composing a melody, and wrote the words, and sang it to her friends. But she didn’t complete this in time. She missed the contest deadline because when you’re fifteen, you are entitled to believe you have all the time in the world.

Her devastated friends from school visited us in our home during the seven days of mourning. We learned about the song from them. It’s uplifting, optimistic, warm - exactly as Malki was. Different versions of it have been sung at concerts around the world and downloaded and streamed and shared in the years since her life’s music was stolen from us. Today, it accompanies the lives of uplifting, optimistic, warm, smiley youngsters – a wonderful heritage to share, even if hearing it remains impossibly painful for my wife and me.

Then there was her cell phone. The police phoned me some weeks after the massacre that destroyed the pizzeria in the center of Jerusalem. They asked me to come downtown to collect a bag of personal effects they had identified as Malki’s. Inside, we found the mangled red phone that was always with her, and on whose screen she had been happily tapping to friends at the moment when the human bomb pressed the button on the deceptive guitar case on his back. That case, engineered by one of Hamas’ most accomplished engineers, was filled not with music but with explosives.

Malki had written these words on the mouthpiece of the cell phone: Don’t speak ill of other people.

The mastermind
That cursed guitar case, along with the human bomb who carried it, and the woman who masterminded the Sbarro massacre, are at the heart of a grotesque celebration of hateful bigotry that goes on and continues to destroy lives. It’s a process that anyone willing to look for it will see it at work daily on the streets of Jerusalem and in many other places in Israel and well beyond Israel’s borders.

I will confine myself to testifying about those aspects of that young Jordanian woman’s story that are connected with justice.

She confessed to the 15 Sbarro pizzeria murders at her trial including the murder of my Malki though she had no knowledge or interest in the identity of her victims once she satisfied herself that they were all Jewish. Her confession in front of the panel of three Israeli judges was proud, triumphant, accompanied by smiles. No, not the warm smiles of young women bursting to help other people and rushing to celebrate life and do good, but a different kind of smile that all of us have seen at dark moments in our lives.

The engineer of the Sbarro atrocity was convicted on 15 counts
of murder, including the murder of our daughter Malki [Image Source]
She has repeated her confession over and again since that time. She has done it in front of large crowds of college students, of ordinary folk, of religious functionaries and of politicians. And most of all, she has done it via the mass media, and the social media and via her weekly television program. The signs are that what she wants people to know, the people in her vast audience want to hear.

Intelligent discussions of terrorism and what makes people do it tend to focus on the need to identify ‘root causes’ and programs that will address long-standing grievances, deprivation, poverty, oppression, frustration. The instance of my daughter’s killer offers what I believe is a very different view: 
  • Terrorism as an act of redemption and triumph.  
  • Self-destruction as a macabre celebration of life.  
  • Murder as an expression of solidarity and identification with a cause.
  • And the urge that most of us have to be a hero in the society that raised us.
If I am right, this has practical implications wherever her message reaches – and that reach certainly includes the United States. In this country, as in many other countries, her jihad-promoting weekly television program is beamed every Friday from a studio in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to hundreds of thousands of households. Because the audience is Arabic-speaking, this phenomenon is largely unnoticed, slipping beneath the radar screen of mainstream observers. Nonetheless, the dissemination of the woman’s message of hateful triumph, extreme bigotry, the redemptive power of murder – all the points I mentioned a moment ago - is a reality that exacts a desperately high price in every society in which it happens.

What makes this especially serious is that her platform is global even while its message remains mostly unknown to the people who – whether they know it or not – may be in her cross-hairs today or in the future.

Should the OVT address any of this? Within the terms of the mandate given to it by Congress, should it be taking this challenge on board? If it did, would this contribute to preventing further deaths of American citizens at the hands of Palestinian Arab terrorists?

A “cash for terror” reward scheme
Any rational person will ask, on hearing the trajectory of this mass-murdering woman’s life, why she ought to be helped to get her lethal brand of Islamist hatred out into the public sphere. She is obviously helped by the fact that she has been completely free and out of prison since October 2011 [Background: Shalit Deal]. But she is helped in less obvious ways as well. We ought to be asking how that help arrives and who sends it.

In the world that most of us know, a felon who does some unspeakable act of violence causing the severe injury or death of a victim can expect to spend years in prison. The upside: he or she might tap into the educational opportunities that come with the sentence and emerge with a degree or other trade qualification. Some pocket money would be available, but it would mostly go on candies, personal hygiene consumables, the small expenses of living in conditions of incarceration.

The downside: After serving all or most of the full sentence and/or being paroled - depending on the usual factors – the time comes to walk free. Emerging back into the real world, it’s likely to be hard to get back on a reasonable track, to re-establish connections, to find a place in society and so on.

The fate of my daughter’s murderer is different. She has never had to confront social stigma or a shortage of money. She never will.

I was given some calculations last week done for me by an Israeli group, Palestinian Media Watch (Palwatch.org), that has devoted years to understanding the fine details of the dangerous and disgraceful program run by the Palestinian Authority (PA) for funding its convicted terrorists and encouraging more acts of terror.

On the assumption that she spent a total of 10 years one month and 4 days in Israeli prison for the fifteen acts of murder for which she was convicted and to which she confessed, the woman who masterminded the Sbarro massacre received hundreds of thousands of shekels in monthly salary, a one-time release grant and a post-prison stipend. She is not alone in this. Every single one of the several thousand Palestinian Arab murderers imprisoned in Israel as a consequence of terror receives similar fat payments, well above those available to ordinary civil servants and many professionals. At a time of huge economic uncertainty inside the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the reliability of the cash-flow emanating from the PA’s coffers (and benefitting its own terrorists as well as those of its mortal rival Hamas) means terror is now a legitimate career option in their society. Terror pays.

Plainly, terror is not going to end so long as the scheme remains viable and funded.

The Palestinian Authority receives on the order of a billion dollars in international aid each year. Starting in 2011, there has been an awareness on the part of some of the fund providers that the payment of out-of-proportion salaries and cash payments to people we would call terrorists – whether in prison or released – and who are called “heroic” and “exemplary” within their own society, poses a problem. As political liabilities go, this one can be especially irksome at a time when the PA refers to itself as almost insolvent and when the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the agency that provides much of the schooling and welfare for millions of Palestinian Arabs, is forced to resort to a succession of emergency appeals to foreign donors. [See our recent post: "25-Jan-16: Felons, funding, fooling, failing"]

In the most recent reporting period, that PA scheme for rewarding terror made payments of more than US $150 million. Under a certain amount of pressure from some of its donor countries (Netherlands provides a good example), and in order to safeguard continuing foreign aid funding, the PA in August 2014 engaged in what I would call a shell game trick and shut down its Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs. The argument was that, having done this, donors could be assured that foreign aid could no longer be said to have flowed into the cash-for-terror reward scheme.

I have taken a close look at the August 2014 changes because of the way they impact on killers who have affected my family’s life. What I have found leads to such obvious conclusions (namely that a fraud is being perpetrated on the donor countries, including the United States) that I am forced to the view that everyone in those countries who needs to know it’s a fraud knows it, but for political reasons chooses to pretend to believe it.

To state the argument simply, there is a new Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs which makes these payments. This is not part of the PA but of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But the head of the PLO is also the head of the PA. (His name is Mahmoud Abbas, and his day job is president of Palestine.) The head of the Commission is a man called Qaraqe who, by no coincidence, was also the head of the PA ministry that shut down a day before the new commission started. The web address of the new commission is identical to the web address of the now-shuttered ministry. The money which the PLO spends on its prisoner payments scheme is exactly the same as the sum spent by the closed-down ministry. There are more details but to recount them here would be to take seriously the assertion that something changed.

Nothing changed. The PA, funded by the US and the EU and others, is rewarding terrorists like Malki’s killers using cash provided by taxpayers in Western countries. This reality is being deliberately obfuscated by all concerned. [Background: “Is the PA lying to Western donors?”, Palestinian Media Watch, May 18, 2015]

This vexed issue of foreign taxpayers delivering up unspeakably large amounts of money to politicians prepared to lie right into the faces of the donors is a key factor in the enduring nature of terrorist savagery, Palestinian Arab-style.

The US provides a substantial part of the money that makes this possible.

Should the OVT address any of this? Within the terms of the mandate given to it by Congress, should it be taking this challenge on board? If it did, would this contribute to preventing further deaths of American citizens at the hands of Palestinian Arab terrorists?

Incitement
Whether or not the president of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas, is good for peace or bad for peace is probably seen by most as a political question calling for political judgement.

Hate speech personified: PA president Abbas salutes unrepentant
terrorists, freed from life terms in prison under
US pressure, December 31, 2013 [Image Source]
But public statements by the head of state of the Palestinian Authority urging greater recognition of the alleged heroism of Palestinian Arabs who engage in terror against Israelis do not call for political judgement. No matter what his views, or ours, of a one-state solution versus a two-state solution, or an immediate end to occupation as a precondition to peace negotiations, it means something very concrete when he appears in public holding aloft the hands of convicted terrorist prisoners and declares them to be “political prisoners”, “freedom fighters” and his nation’s heroes.

Even if Mr Abbas had ever publicly condemned a specific Palestinian Arab for engaging in a terrorist act, we would still think that the preponderance of his messages encouraging such acts amounts to clear encouragement of terror from his people’s most influential single voice.

But we have checked carefully, and we believe he has never once issued such a condemnation. Moreover, while she was still in an Israeli prison cell serving her sixteen life terms (prior to being released in 2011), Mr Abbas awarded the murderer of our daughter the Palestinian Authority's highest medal, the Al Quds Mark of Honor.

Should the OVT address any of this? Within the terms of the mandate given to it by Congress, should it be taking this challenge on board? If it did, would this contribute to preventing further deaths of American citizens at the hands of Palestinian Arab terrorists?

Why has so little been done?
I have already mentioned here that the criticism we feel is not directed at the people of the DOJ with whom we have had dealings. My wife and I have been treated by them respectfully and courteously. Everything we have seen tells us the DOJ people are committed to doing their jobs professionally and have sought to do so. 

Why has so little of a practical nature come from those interactions? We do not know. We do not know what efforts have been made by them. To the extent those efforts are being, or were, undertaken within the confines of the legal system, we know that confidentiality can play a major role.

But since justice is the heart of our concerns, and years have gone by without update or result, it has to be said that justice has not been achieved here. At the same time, it should also be acknowledged that the responsibility of the US government is to administer justice for its citizens, including for my murdered daughter Malki and for her family. 

If some larger truth lies behind the lack of momentum, that truth ought to be disclosed.  If diplomatic considerations override the law enforcement imperatives, we wish that were made known too. If foreign governments are thwarting US government efforts to enforce its laws, that too should be known.

Washington is not just about laws and values. It’s about politics – both domestic and global. If for instance this great nation’s relations with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority take precedence over the pursuit of justice and the protection of innocent civilians and their lives, then as painful, as distasteful, as that would be, it’s the kind of thing that societies do. We don't know that that is what has happened. We don’t say it has, even if others say it is perfectly obvious to them that it has.

But if – and I am just speculating – the inaction were the deliberate outcome of political thinking, then we could call it a terrible mistake, we could try to persuade the appropriate decision makers to see it differently, we could appeal to public sentiment that might agree with us. And we could hope for a new and different strategy.

But we do not know. Our efforts to help ourselves and to be helped by others whose role is to help, have been unhelpful.

I consulted Sherry Mandell just before flying to Washington this week. I told her I would convey the sense of her feelings to this hearing. Sherry is the mother of the American child whose cruel murder ultimately led to the enabling law that created the OVT being named for him: Koby Mandell. Sherry asked me to say this:

It hurts, saddens and enrages me that the OVT, which was  once created by a law named after my 13 year old son who was beaten to death by terrorists--is not being used to help families such as ours. Koby Mandell's name was expunged from the OVT website with no sign that it was ever there. I did get a phone call telling me that the US government was closing the case--even though the killers were never found. They closed the case, burying Koby again. Causing us another round of pain. The office that was created in my son's name to protect us, instead damages us. There has been no communication since. No sign that the OVT could care less about an innocent 13 year old American boy named Koby--or others like him.

Thank you.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

07-Feb-16: In Germany, grappling with a new reality

German police arrest one of the suspects in Berlin
on February 4, 2016 [Image Source]
This past Thursday, police in Germany  - where about a million "asylum seekers" were received during 2015 - carried out raids on multiple sites, including refugee shelters. They arrested three Algerians thought to be connected to ISIS and suspected of "planning a serious act threatening the security of the state", in the words of a syndicated Agence France-Presse report.

The Berlin plot was widely speculated upon in the German news media over the following 24 hours,
with Bild reporting it as Alexanderplatz and Tagesspiegel claiming it was Checkpoint Charlie. Both cited unnamed security sources. [The Local, February 5, 2016]
Then an anti-climax:
Police confirmed to The Local on Friday that none of the people taken into custody on Thursday were arrested for planning an act of terrorism. A spokesperson for Berlin police said that the three people  - arrested in early morning raids in three German states - were all arrested on existing charges, not in connection with an ongoing investigation into the suspected planning of a terror attack... [The Local, February 5, 2016]
So the danger is not that great. But wait:
Islamic State militants have slipped into Europe disguised as refugees, the head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency (BfV) said on Friday, a day after security forces thwarted a potential IS attack in Berlin. Hans-Georg Maassen said the terrorist attacks in Paris last November had shown that Islamic State was deliberately planting terrorists among the refugees flowing into Europe. "Then we have repeatedly seen that terrorists... have slipped in camouflaged or disguised as refugees. This is a fact that the security agencies are facing," Maassen told ZDF television. "We are trying to recognize and identify whether there are still more IS fighters or terrorists from IS that have slipped in," he added... "We are in a serious situation and there is a high risk that there could be an attack. But the security agencies, the intelligence services and the police authorities are very alert and our goal is to minimize the risk as best we can," he said. ["German spy agency says ISIS sending fighters disguised as refugees", Reuters, February 5, 2016]
With Germany's most senior intelligence official now admitting that the flood of illegal migrants includes some unknown number of planted terrorists, other voices have been heard offering ideas for what ought to be done.
  • "The German Catholic Church called for a reduction in the influx of refugees arriving in Germany, saying the country cannot take in "all the world's needy," according to an interview published on Saturday..." [The Local, February 6, 2016
  • Jens Müller, the mayor of Bad Schlema in eastern Germany, asked about the phenomenon of young girls being harassed by "asylum seekers" housed in the town's refugee shelter, offered this clever approach: "That's easy, just don't provoke them and don't walk in these areas...It's technically not necessary for the girls to walk there. There are alternative routes for going to school... " [RT, February 3, 2016]
  • "[T]he construction of the refugee as rapist will expand and endure as a political tool for a European far-right eager to exclude foreign others and opportunistic politicians couching its misgivings about the immigration crisis in the language of feminism. The frames of political rhetoric create unfortunate choices everywhere, but in Germany the fight against misogyny is now being transformed into the exclusion and possible expulsion of desperate war refugees." ["The rapist refugee as Germany’s boogeyman", Aljazeera, February 5, 2016]

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

03-Feb-16: In Washington DC, victims of terror and the search for justice

Participants in the hearing
Responding to a perceived lack of adequate assistance for U.S. victims of terrorism outside the United States, the US Congress heard evidence yesterday (Tuesday) from the family members of several victims as well as from a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the National Security Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

From a report headed "Obama Admin Has Not Prosecuted a Single Palestinian Terrorist Who Killed Americans" [Washington Free Beacon, February 2, 2016]:
The Obama administration has not prosecuted a single Palestinian terrorist responsible for killing Americans abroad, despite a congressional mandate ordering the Justice Department to take action against these individuals, according to disclosures made by lawmakers on Tuesday.
Palestinian terrorists have murdered at least 64 Americans, including two unborn children, since 1993. Yet the U.S. government has failed to take legal action against those who committed the crimes, lawmakers disclosed during a Tuesday hearing on the Justice Department’s failure to live up to its mandate to bring these terrorists to justice.
Many of the terrorists continue to roam free across the Middle East, with one hosting a Hamas-affiliated television show in Jordan.
With criticism mounting from Congress and U.S. victims of terrorism, Justice Department officials say they are working to initiate cases, but warn that this could take “many years” to play out.
Arnold Roth was in Washington yesterday (Tuesday) to take part in the hearing. Click below to view his oral testimony:


Roth's comments start, first, at the 25m 00s mark and then at 1h 02m 15s. His twelve-page written testimony document is here.

The hearing, under the title Seeking Justice for Victims of Palestinian Terrorism in Israel”, took place in the Subcommittee on National Security of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. It sought to examine the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT), an office that began operations inside the Department of Justice in May 2005. Its mission has included ensuring that when Americans are injured or killed in terrorist attacks overseas, investigation and prosecution remains a high priority within the Department of Justice (DOJ). 

From the WFB:
Justice Department officials who testified maintain that they are aggressively working behind the scenes to make cases against foreign terrorists who have killed and injured Americans. Brad Wiegmann, the deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s national security division, maintained that there are a number of “open investigations,” though he declined to provide further information.
“While I cannot discuss these investigations today or the facts of specific cases, it’s important to note the absence of public charges associated with a particular overseas attack does not mean that there are no charges, or that no such charges will be brought,” Weigmann said, noting that a prosecution could take place “many years” after an attack.
“I can certainly understand the frustration of some of the families that the Department of Justice has not prosecuted more cases involving terrorist attacks against Americans in Israel,” Wiegmann said...
Naturally we're hoping for some concrete outcomes. Updates when they come.

03-Feb-16: In Jerusalem, a shooting attack

Israel National News reports that two Border Guard officers, young women aged 19 and 20, were seriously injured this afternoon (Wednesday) in a terrorist shooting assault close to the Old City of Jerusalem's Damascus Gate. It happened around 2:00 o'clock. 
One of the young officers is said to be in critical condition. Both have been rushed to hospital for emergency care. 

There appear to have been three attackers, Arabs armed with concealed sub-machine guns, as well as knives and explosives. After they opened fire, nearby security personnel returned fire, killing the three. They are thought to have come to the site from the Jenin area in Samaria. Times of Israel says the current assessment is the attackers had no history of violent activities according to the Shin Bet. 

UPDATE 8:00 pm Wednesday February 3, 2016: Sadly, Hadar Cohen, 19, from Or Yehuda, one of the Border Police officers injured in the shooting/stabbing attack, has died of her injuries after efforts to save her life at Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital, Mount Scopus, failed. Times of Israel says she entered the Border Police service just two months ago and was still undergoing training.