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 (it'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.

27-Nov-19: Jordanian ruler honored in Washington calls for empowering young people

At the NYC gala (the king is the one wearing the medal)
The Jordan Times is widely regarded to be an English-language mouthpiece for the kingdom's Royal Palace.

Earlier this week, it published a generous account of King Abdullah II's remarks at a glittering New York City event honoring him, hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on November 21, 2019.

We believe the WINEP recognition is ill-conceived and have said so, and explained why, in several places (see below).

The king makes all of Jordan's important decisions as well as appointing its political leaders and judges. But he also demeans the 1995 extradition treaty entered into by his late father King Hussein and the Bill Clinton Administration - all, it appears, in order to safeguard a popular jihadist with a strong Jordanian following.

That jihadist happens to be the confessed mastermind of the mass-casualty Sbarro pizzeria bombing in which our daughter Malki was killed. The bomber, Ahlam Tamimi, is a fugitive from the FBI who lives openly, never in hiding, in Jordan's capital city Amman.

We have published three related pieces in recent days expressing a viewpoint that is deeply critical not only of the Jordanians but of the Washington Institute whose leadership continues to ignore all our attempts to engage them in discussion.
The full text of the Jordan Times article reproduced below (originally published here) provides insight into how the WINEP award is viewed from the Jordanian perspective.

Not surprisingly, even as the king speaks of peace, countering extremism and paying close attention to the future being prepared for young people, the extraordinary enthusiasm his country shows for Ahlam Tamimi's massacre of Jewish children and Jordan's unjustifiable dismissal of its treaty obligations to the United States go unmentioned.

* * *

King, at Scholar-Statesman Award dinner, urges countries to believe in their peoples, give them opportunity
Jordan Times, November 23, 2019

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah participated in a conversation in New York on Thursday evening, held by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy with its executive director, Robert Satloff.

The conversation, held as part of the 2019 Scholar-Statesman Award dinner held in honour of King Abdullah, covered regional developments, the threat of terrorism and efforts to achieve peace in the region, according to a Royal Court statement.

Responding to a question on lessons learned on leadership over the past 20 years, His Majesty said: “With all the challenges that we have in our part of the world, you always have to look to the positive, you always have to reach out and do the right thing.”

“As challenging and as confusing as our part of the world looks, I am optimistic; we will move to the future, and I get that inspiration, not only from my family, but from young men and women in Jordan that have that aspiration to make life better,” the King continued.

“Youth want to move forward, live together and make a better world for themselves, and that’s what gives us, I think, the energy to continue,” His Majesty said.

Commenting on extremism, the King noted that the challenge is global, adding that Daesh has been defeated in Syria and Iraq but not destroyed, according to the statement.

His Majesty pointed to renewed threats from the group, warning that “until politicians understand who the enemy is, it’s two steps forward and one step back”.

The King said the challenge comes from the outlaws of Islam, including takfiri jihadist groups like Daesh that utilise the Internet and social media to create a global reach and recruit around the world.

“So unless we call the enemy and those who support them for what they are, it’s going to take a long time for us to be able to deal with this,” His Majesty added.

Commenting on protests in the Middle East and similar past movements, the King said the Arab Spring was led by youth who were frustrated and wanted opportunities, the statement said.

“We look back at that point in history, and it is obviously a very defining road for us in Islamic and Arabic history, and I think we’ll look back on it and say that was a crossroad that we needed to cross,” His Majesty noted.

Responding to a question on how monarchies have handled protests, the King said: “Monarchies in the way I was brought up by His late Majesty and he was brought up by his father and his father, is we are there for all of society.”

“We are the balancer for everybody in society… We are the ones that make sure that everybody is protected and everybody is supported, and I think that is what has helped the monarchies be stable during a very difficult time for our region,” His Majesty continued.

Discussing efforts to rekindle peace efforts in the region, the King stressed the important role of the United States in bringing both sides together, according to the statement.

“I think there’s quite a few of us in this room that believe that the only way to move forward is a two-state solution, because the alternative is worse for all of us — an Israel looking inwards, which none of us can afford. We then have an immediate challenge of equal rights, which, again, is something that we can’t deal with,” His Majesty stressed.

On the current prospects of the two-state solution, the King said, “Every time we lose a year, it is going to be much more complicated, and much more difficult for the Palestinians and Israelis to get to go forward together”.

Noting that Israel’s future is being part of the Middle East, His Majesty said that cannot happen “unless we solve the Palestinian problem”, which is a sensitive and emotional issue.

“Unless we can solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue, we’ll never have the full integration that all of us deserve in our part of the world,” the King said.

Pointing to the recent elections held in Israel and the current stalemate, His Majesty said, “we are all in pause mode, and we have not been able to get people back around the table talking to each other”.

In January 2018, the US announced a $5M reward
for the capture and conviction of Tamimi
whose home address and
movements in Jordan's capital are well-known
“The Jordanian-Israeli relationship is at an all-time low. Part of it is because of Israeli domestic issues. We are hoping that Israel would decide its future, whether it is in the next several weeks or in the next three months, and then it is very important for all of us, and I am saying, our friends here in the United States, to refocus our energies on bringing all of us back to the table, and looking at the glass half-full,” His Majesty added.

“The problems that we’ve had with Israel are bilateral. Part of it is internal politics; I understand that, but not at the expense of something that my father and the late prime minister Rabin fought so hard to achieve, as a symbol of hope and opportunity for Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians and others,” the King continued.

His Majesty pointed out that the Jordanian-Israeli peace was the result of the two sides sitting together “because they had the confidence in each other to create this peace”, voicing hope that the two sides can go back to talking to each other on simple issues “that we have not been able to talk about for the past two years”.

Reacting to calls by US officials to come back from the Middle East, the King expressed understanding for the desire to bring back young men and women out from harm’s way.

“I am absolutely sympathetic with the desire for people to bring their troops back… The United States is in a unique position of being the most powerful, capable country in the world, and with that comes a moral responsibility to help stabilise the world,” His Majesty said.

“From an ex-military point of view, and this is my personal opinion, sometimes when you move out of a campaign before it is over, you are only going to be back tomorrow to try to fix it again, having lost all that ground,” the King underscored.

“Nobody can fault Americans for wanting their loved ones back. But they will be back, unless we solve it, and that is the problem,” His Majesty added.

The King concluded by reiterating the need to empower young people.

“Just know that there is a younger generation of people in our part of the world that just want to get on with their lives,” His Majesty said. Be they Jordanian, Palestinian, Yemeni, Israeli or Iranian, they want to be able to find jobs, settle down with families, and move on, the King explained.

“Believe in your people, because they do want to have the right thing but give them the opportunity. And I am not just talking about our part of the world in the Middle East. This is all over the place. So, give the young people your love and your consideration, because they will make the world better if we give them a chance,” His Majesty concluded.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

23-Nov-19: We have some unanswered and troubling questions about honor, justice and decency

From left: WINEP Executive Director Robert Satloff, Chairman of the WINEP
Board of Trustees James Schreiber, Jordan's king, someone else
No one from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy - not their board members, not the executives who run it, not the communications professionals who work hard to keep it in the news - bothered to respond to us or any of our emails, tweets or opinion pieces (one on the home page of the Times of Israel, one on our blog) in relation to their giving an award called "Scholar-Statesman" to Jordan's ruler this past Thursday night.

We think that's extraordinary. Not in a good way.

Our concern focuses on how Jordan, an absolute monarchy, defeats justice by brazenly shielding a mass murderer who happens also to be the killer of our teenage daughter Malki. Malki was a US citizen whose life ended in a massive conflagration before she reached her sixteenth birthday.

In the wake of the glittering event at which the award was presented, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan's embassy in Washington, where Ambassador Dina Kawar blocks us on Twitter, has just published the kind of self-serving report we have learned to expect, emphasizing and re-emphasizing King Abdullah II's wisdom, wise policies and how he "confronts" extremism.
22 November 2019 (Archived)
KING RECEIVES 2019 SCHOLAR-STATESMAN AWARD
His Majesty King Abdullah, in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah, received the 2019 Scholar-Statesman Award on Thursday evening.
The award, presented to King Abdullah by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), has been awarded to His Majesty in appreciation for his wise policies and efforts towards peace, stability, harmony, and tolerance in the Middle East.
The award was presented to His Majesty by WINEP Chairman of the Board of Trustees James Schreiber, during a dinner held to mark the occasion.
The award celebrates distinguished leaders who, through their public service and achievements, underscore the importance of research and deep knowledge of history in effective and wise policies to promote peace and security in the Middle East.
In remarks at the ceremony, WINEP Executive Director Robert Satloff noted that when His Majesty talks, people listen, be they leaders around world or the millions of his people, who count on him to provide wisdom and guidance, vision and balance, leadership and security.
For his part, WINEP Chairman of the Board of Trustees James Schreiber addressed the King saying, “you have led your country with strength, compassion, moderation and wisdom.”
He added, “you have been a committed warrior for peace, and a determined leader in the battle to confront extremism. In your faith, and in all faiths, you have been a true partner of our country, the United States.”
During the ceremony, a tribute video was screened, highlighting His Majesty’s achievements and efforts to pursue peace in the region and to promote dialogue and interfaith harmony, as well as his role as the Hashemite Custodian of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.
After receiving the award, His Majesty sat for a conversation with WINEP Executive Director Satloff, during which His Majesty spoke of the latest developments in the Middle East, the threat of terrorism and extremism, and efforts to pursue peace in the region.
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Adviser to His Majesty for Communication and Coordination Bisher Khasawneh, Jordan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Sima Bahous, and Jordan’s Ambassador in Washington, D.C., Dina Kawar attended the award dinner.
No mention was made at any point in the gala event of 
  • Jordan's egregious and continuing breach of the active and binding 1995 Extradition Treaty made by the awardee's father, King Hussein, and the Clinton Administration
  • The State Department confirming just three weeks ago [see "03-Nov-19: In Washington, a step towards bringing the Sbarro bomber to justice"] that although Jordan continues "to cite a court ruling that its constitution forbids the extradition of Jordanian nationals... the United States regards the extradition treaty as valid."
  • The fact that Ahlam Tamimi, a Jordanian national, is wanted on US Federal terrorism charges arising from a bombing attack in Jerusalem to which she has openly and repeatedly confessed and that took the lives of 16 innocent people, half of them children, one of them our fifteen-year old daughter Malki. She is one of just 28 terrorists classified as being the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists.
  • Jordan's blunt refusal to hand her over to the US Justice Department, a disgraceful stance that has been barely reported in the mainstream news media in the US but which was explicitly confirmed earlier this month by Jordan's foreign minister ["13-Nov-19: Thank you, Mr Foreign Minister"] who was present at the Washington prize-granting event.
The most recent of our tweets asks a question, still unanswered, that we intend to pursue:
Finally a reminder that the Washington Institute's mission is "to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them."

Please recall that three of the lives stolen in the Tamimi atrocity were those of citizens of the United States. Does anyone doubt that this counts as an American interest in the Middle East?

We're baffled and pained by every aspect of how the Washington Institute for Near East Policy has conducted itself in this exceedingly shabby affair. We're especially troubled by how its leadership disdains us and our questions and acts as if we, our questions and our murdered child simply don't exist or aren't worth the trouble of acknowledging.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

17-Nov-19: Jordan's king to be honored for profound commitment to peace and moderation

Image Source: Aljazeera, March 21, 2017
The Washington Institute to Honor Jordan's King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein with Prestigious 'Scholar Statesman Award' 
November 17, 2019
‪Washington, D.C.‬ – The Washington Institute for Near East Policy will present its 2019 Scholar-Statesman Award to King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan at a gala event in New York City ‪on November 21, 2019‬, the research organization announced today. The Institute will also pay tribute to Institute Trustees Merryl and James Tisch, leaders in the business, educational, and philanthropic communities.
"It is our great privilege to recognize His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan for his courageous leadership and profound commitment to peace and moderation," stated Institute leaders Executive Director Robert Satloff, President Shelly Kassen, and Chairman James Schreiber. "In a region troubled by violence and extremism, the King has shown over two decades on the throne that a mix of compassion and strength is a recipe for visionary statesmanship."
King Abdullah II has been the head of Jordan's monarchy since 1999, following the passing of his father, King Hussein. Throughout his reign, he has prioritized investing in the potential of his people, countering violent extremism, and working to expand the prospects for peace in the Middle East. The 41st generation direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, King Abdullah II has been recognized around the world for efforts to advance harmony and peace within Islam and among the world's great religions.
The Scholar-Statesman Award celebrates outstanding leaders who, through their public service and professional achievements, exemplify the idea that sound scholarship and a discerning knowledge of history are essential to wise and effective policy and the advancement of peace and security in the Middle East. Past Scholar-Statesman honorees have included President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as well as former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice, George P. Shultz, and Henry Kissinger.
The Scholar-Statesman Award Dinner, chaired by Institute Board of Directors member John Shapiro of New York City, will also pay tribute to Merryl and James Tisch, longtime supporters of the Institute and other charitable organizations in New York City, around the country, and abroad. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) will offer remarks in their honor.
A member of the Institute's Board of Directors, Merryl is the chair of the State University of New York and served formerly as chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents. Among her many leadership roles, she sits on the boards of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York City Charter Revision Commission, the Citizens Budget Commission, and the Trust for Cultural Resources of the City of New York.
James Tisch is the president and chief executive officer of Loews Corporation, and is also the chairman of the board of directors of Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. He is co-chairman of the board of trustees of the Mount Sinai Health Systems, where he and Merryl endowed the Tisch Cancer Institute in 2008. He has led numerous nonprofits boards including WNET, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, United Jewish Communities, and UJA-Federation of New York.
For questions about the Scholar-Statesman Award Dinner or for press requests to cover the event, please email press@washingtoninstitute.org ‪before November 20, 2019‬.
About the Washington Institute: The Washington Institute is an independent, nonpartisan research institution funded exclusively by U.S. citizens that seeks to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them. Drawing on the research of its fellows and the experience of its policy practitioners, the Institute promotes informed debate and scholarly research on U.S. policy in the region.
The Washington Institute's mission is "to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them."

There's obviously not a syllable here that deals with how King Abdullah II has demeaned the extradition treaty that his late father King Hussein entered into with the Clinton Administration in 1995.

Nor about how Jordan rebuffs ongoing efforts by the United States via its Department of Justice and State Department to effect the extradition of Ahlam Tamimi, confessed bomber, Hamas terror agent, Jordanian jihadist/celebrity and the killer of our teenage daughter Malki, to a Federal court in Washington where serious terrorism charges involving American victims await her.

Nor about those American victims like our Malki. Or their "American interests".

We have contacted the Washington Institute's executive director and head, Dr Robert Satloff, tonight asking for a discussion.

Background:
We can be reached at thisongoingwar@gmail.com

UPDATE November 21, 2019: We penned the Top Op opinion piece on the Times of Israel site today. It's called "A tribute unfit for a king who harbors our child’s killer | Jordan’s monarch won’t extradite the woman behind the horrific Sbarro massacre. Why is he getting the royal treatment at a New York gala?" [online here]

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

13-Nov-19: Thank you, Mr Foreign Minister

Jordan's Foreign Minister [Image Source]
This is an open letter.

Minister HE Dr Ayman Hussein Abdullah Al-Safadi,
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Queen Alia Airport Street,
Amman 11180
Jordan

Dear Mr Safadi,

Thank you. In a rare announcement as Jordan's foreign minister, you spoke publicly and for the record yesterday about how the kingdom views the US extradition request it received officially in March 2017 ["14-Mar-17: Sbarro massacre mastermind is now formally charged and her extradition is requested"]. As you know, unofficially the US began quietly making that request four years before that, without success.

In simple terms (not using the words you used) you have just announced this: Jordan has rejected the US request for some years. We confirm that Jordan still rejects it, no matter what the Americans want.

Frankly, this is helpful to us.

That's because you have been careful until now to avoid public mentions of the embarrassing and humiliating way your country harbors the confessed Sbarro bomber and FBI Most Wanted fugitive terrorist Ahlam Tamimi. Tamimi, as you may know, faces charges in a United States federal court for her central role in the Hamas-inspired massacre that took the lives of many people, half of them children. One of those children, Your Excellency, was our daughter Malki who was just fifteen years old.

More than most people, and for reasons related to what we lost in the Sbarro atrocity, we are aware of how willing you are to discuss Jordan's disavowal of its treaty obligations to the US in private meetings about which we have gotten reports. And how unwilling you are to talk about this important issue in public. It is quite a balancing act.

You surely recall how we tried to draw out your response in an article we published more than two years ago, addressed to you: "26-Jul-17: We listened carefully to Jordan's foreign minister and we have 10 questions".

And as you may remember, you ignored us totally. (So did and do your staff.) Special mention of your ambassador to Washington who now even blocks us on Twitter. We assume this is what feeling really embarrassed about an issue will cause even a polite and cultured person like Ambassador Dina Kawar to do.

In the last two weeks, the United States via an official announcement of its State Department has clarified in a gratifying way how it rejects the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan's claims that the 1995 Extradition Treaty signed by the late King Hussein and President Bill Clinton's administration is invalid. You are invited to read what we wrote about that US statement just yesterday: "12-Nov-19: On Jordan, the US and the children killed in a pizzeria".

It's also well reported in the online English-language edition of Haaretz. (You can slso click to download the printed version.)

And also yesterday, perhaps unwittingly, you spoke as Jordan's Foreign Minister to a public event and put Jordan's position - and presumably your own personal views as well - on the record.

We are pleased that you did - pleased enough that we want others to know. As many others as possible. And especially the small tribe of US Congressional figures making frequent pilgrimages to Jordan and to its king ["09-Nov-19: Another delegation from US Congress at Jordan's royal court. Did extradition come up?"]

We found your blunt and deliberate words on the popular Jordanian news-site JO24. (We remember it as one of the Jordanian TV channels that lovingly provided Jordanian audiences with real-time, live video coverage of Ahlam Tamimi's wedding to her cousin Nizar on June 16, 2012).
Safadi: We have received US requests to extradite Ahlam al-Tamimi. We confirm our commitment to the law that prevents it (JO24)
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Affairs, Ayman Safadi, said that several US authorities asked Jordan to extradite Jordanian citizen Ahlam Al-Tamimi, pointing out that Jordan respects and abides by the law "and the law does not allow it".
Safadi said during a press conference to talk about the expiry of the annexes of the Wadi Araba agreement related to the areas of Baqoura and Ghamr, on Monday, that Jordan is a state that respects the law. Jordanian law does not allow the extradition of a citizen to a third country and there is no legal basis for the delivery of Ahlam al-Tamimi.
He pointed out that there are requests from US authorities requesting the extradition of Tamimi, "but Jordan deals in accordance with the law and the law does not allow extradition."
In late March 2017, the Court of Cassation upheld a decision by the Amman Court of Appeal to reject Washington's request for the extradition of Ahlam al-Tamimi, accused of involvement in an attack that killed two US citizens in 2001.
Tamimi spent 10 years in Israeli jails after being sentenced to 16 years [might be a machine translation error - see below] in prison for participating in a martyrdom operation of the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in the Sbarro restaurant in West Jerusalem in August 2001 in which 15 people were killed and 122 others were injured.
The occupation [a reference to Israel] released Tamimi and handed over to Jordan in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas.
[Source: "Safadi: We have received US requests to extradite Ahlam al-Tamimi. We confirm our commitment to the law that prevents it", JO24, November 12, 2019 - the original article is in Arabic; the English text is via Google Translate]
(For background to the US extradition request, see "03-Nov-19: In Washington, a step towards bringing the Sbarro bomber to justice")

You are the latest in a line of foreign ministers - eight of them so far - to have served Jordan since its absolute monarch King Abdullah II ascended to the throne. You are the first to have publicly expressed, to the best of our knowledge, a frank and open disdain for an entirely proper request made by the United States, your country's most important strategic partner.

We confess to being surprised by how inaccurate your claims are, at least in the form reported by the Jordan media. Naturally, if they misquoted you (which sometimes happens to politicians), we assume you will see to it that the record is fixed.

Meanwhile, on the assumption that what we see does reflect what you said, allow us to point out some of what you got wrong. And some matters that ought to be more on your mind than they seem to be.
  • You say "Jordanian law does not allow the extradition of a citizen to a third country". That's not true of Jordanian law. And it's not what Jordan's highest court said in its March 2017 decision to prohibit Tamimi's extradition. The court's argument has to do with a narrow, highly technical alleged flaw in how the treaty was accepted by Jordan. And by the way, officials in the US State Department have told us the allegations of a flaw are simply untrue as a matter of fact. 
  • As you surely also know, even if there was a technical flaw, it could have been fixed by Jordan's parliament (whose members are by and large selected by the king, according to this Wikipedia entry) at any time. Including this afternoon. Somehow no one in Jordan has gotten around to even trying.
  • Leaving the dubious legal claims about the treaty aside, it's a fact that Jordan's still-active extradition treaty with the US went into full legal effect on July 29, 1995 and that both countries treated it as being valid and effective for the next 22 years. Jordan, as you know, has extradited several Jordanians to the US. We can give you the details of several of them who are currently serving long US prison sentences. Just ask.
  • What's more, based on things we have learned from open source materials, Jordan has never once failed to extradite fugitives to the US when asked to do so - until the Tamimi case.
  • Is there really any doubt (as you seem to claim) about Jordan having extradition treaties with other countries? We have not found an authoritative source but the list certainly includes at least Lebanon and France. A treaty is currently been negotiated with Australia where our Malki was born.
  • Then there's the money: Jordan, which struggles economically and has huge burdens, is monumentally dependent on US aid. The US provides far more foreign aid to Jordan than anyone else does.
  • In fact, on scanning the same Arabic media source that reports your disappointing statement about diasvowing your country's treaty with the US, we were startled to find a report ["$1 Billion Additional Aid Will Reach Jordan Next Month", JO24 and archived here] that underscores in a concrete way how hugely important US support and generosity is to the kingdom. Somehow this is not reflected in the tone or content of what you are quoted as saying.
  • While you are not to blame for this, we noticed what the JO24 report on your speech said about Ahlam Tamimi. It's sadly typical of the chronically inaccurate journalism emanating from other sources in your country. Tamimi, it wrongly states, is "accused of involvement in an attack that killed two US citizens in 2001". Accused? Tamimi proudly boasts she did it, and was convicted by a tribunal of three Israeli judges who sentenced her to sixteen terms of life imprisonment. JO24 says it was 16 years which isn't close to the truth (but might be a translation error). But in any event, she was out of prison as a result of the catastrophic Shalit Deal after just eight years. 
  • And while it's true that she is charged by the US with killing just two US citizens - our daughter and the pregnant daughter of our dear friends the Haymans - the number of lives Tamimi extinguished, including the non-US citizens among them, is 16. One of those is a young mother who has been lying unconscious in all the years since then.
  • Thanks to very uncharacteristic and misplaced Hashemite tolerance, Tamimi had her own television program called Breezes of the Free or in Arabic “نسيم الأحرار” [background: "6-May-12: What lies behind freedom of the Palestinian Arab press?"], produced by Hamas and recorded unhindered, week after week, in the Jordanian capital between 2012 and 2016. From there it was beamed literally throughout the world, everywhere that Arabic speaking audiences were found. This turned Tamimi into a global celebrity. As you know.
  • How does Jordan's willingness to allow Tamim's weekly incitement to terror, her gloating over the joys of blowing Jewish children to pieces, sit with your claim that the kingdom "respects and abides by the law"? Why is she permitted to appear as a celebrity in public events in Jordan? On Jordan's commercial television? Why was her rapturous welcome back to Jordan in October 2011 conducted in a government court-house? (Here's the proof.) Why isn't she in a Jordanian prison? Why isn't she on a flight to Washington now, in handcuffs and chains.
  • And why, in the name of all that's good and decent, do you express no concern, no discomfort, no embarrassment, no nausea over the reality that Jordan has given Tamimi, who has never denied the murders in which she was involved, a dream life? Do you have children? Do you know anyone who does? Are you aware that Tamimi has boasted repeatedly that it was children she set out to kill with her bomb?
Thank you for clarifying matters.

You have delivered a good basis for the US media to engage with you and to understand at a deeper level what your published comments mean in the context of US/Jordan relations and the billion dollars that's coming your way in December.

Naturally, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss what we have just placed in front of you. We would also want to take the opportunity to share with you some things you might not know about the beautiful life of the child whose unbearable loss we continue to mourn.

Sincerely,
Frimet and Arnold Roth
Jerusalem, Israel

UPDATE November 14, 2019: The reports of Ayman Safadi, foreign minister of Jordan, speaking clearly for the first time about how Jordan intends to deal with the kingdom's most famous terrorist (after more than two years of carefully maintained public silence) are now widely republished in the Arabic-speaking world. Some examples from the many we have seen this week:

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

12-Nov-19: On Jordan, the US and the children killed in a pizzeria

Image Source
Nine days ago, the US State Department made an announcement that has a significant impact on our ongoing efforts to have our child's killer brought to justice in the United States.

We wrote about it here: "03-Nov-19: In Washington, a step towards bringing the Sbarro bomber to justice".

Shortly afterwards, the Washington editor at Haaretz, Amir Tibon, did what we think is a fine job of giving the State Department statement some context. It appeared online (text below) on November 3, and in the paper edition. (Click for the PDF)
U.S. Rejects Jordan's Refusal to Extradite Hamas Terrorist Wanted for Trial
Development could lead to further American pressure on Amman to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, who played a major role in organizing the Sbarro attack in Jerusalem in 2001
Haaretz - Amir Tibon, Washington, D.C.November 7, 2019
WASHINGTON — The White House is rejecting claims by its Middle Eastern ally Jordan that a Palestinian-Jordanian terrorist who was involved in the murder of U.S. citizens cannot be extradited to face trial in the United States.
A new report published this week by the State Department says explicitly that the U.S. considers its extradition treaty with Jordan to be valid, despite a Jordanian court ruling from 2017 that said the opposite.
This development could lead to further American pressure on Jordan to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, a Hamas terrorist who played a major role in organizing the “Sbarro attack” in Jerusalem in August 2001, a suicide bombing which led to the deaths of 15 people, including two American citizens.
Tamimi currently lives in Jordan with her family. She was arrested by Israel in September 2001, convicted for her role in the attack in 2003, and sentenced to 16 life terms in prison; however, in 2011 she was released from prison as part of the “Shalit deal,” in which Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to release more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in return for the release of one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, from captivity in Gaza.
After her release Tamimi moved to Jordan, where she was born and where most of her family currently resides. Ever since 2012, she has been living and working in Amman. Over the years, she has given many interviews, made public speeches, and has also hosted her own television show on a network affiliated with Hamas.
Ever since Tamimi’s release from prison, families who lost their loved ones in the Sbarro attack have been fighting to bring her to justice in the United States, where the justice system is obliged by law to pursue terrorists who killed American citizens abroad. Tamimi also appears on FBI’s most wanted terrorists list.
In 2017, progress was made toward bringing her to stand trial in the U.S., when the U.S. Department of Justice unveiled terror charges against her. Just days after that happened, however, Jordan’s highest court ruled that Jordanian law prohibited her extradition to the United States.
Jordan has since claimed that Tamimi cannot be extradited and that the extradition agreement that the Kingdom had signed with the U.S. in 1995 was invalid. No progress on her extradition has been made since.
Two months ago, Haaretz reported that two senior members of Congress were pressing the Trump administration to act on the subject. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the chairman of the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), the committee’s ranking member, sent a joint letter to the Department of Justice, seeking answers on the subject.
The two lawmakers noted in their letter that despite previous indications that legal action against Tamimi would move forward in the United States, no progress has been made for the past two years. The main obstacle, they wrote, has been the Jordanian government’s refusal to cooperate with U.S. authorities in bringing her to trial, based on a false claim that Jordan was unable to do anything to comply with U.S. authorities on this subject.
Nadler and Collins asked the department to provide “information regarding the current status” of the efforts to “overcome these objections.”
This week, for the first time since the Jordanian court ruling two years ago, the U.S. government officially stated that it rejects Jordan’s position on the subject.
This new development appeared in the department’s annual report on terrorism around the world. While it praised Jordan and its security forces for their actions against terror organizations, it also mentioned the country's harboring of Tamimi.
“A U.S. criminal complaint was unsealed in 2017 charging Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, a Jordanian national in her mid-30s, with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals outside the United States resulting in death,” the report states.
The report further notes that “in 2018, Jordan continued to cite a court ruling that its constitution forbids the extradition of Jordanian nationals. The United States regards the extradition treaty as valid.”
Arnold Roth, whose daughter Malki, 15, was one of the U.S. citizens murdered in the Sbarro attack, told Haaretz that “what has just happened at the State Department is a welcome step in the direction of overdue justice. It will reverberate, though we realize many steps still lie ahead before we see Malki's killer in chains and handcuffs.”
Roth added, however, that he and his wife, who is also a U.S. citizen, have “knocked on a long list of U.S. government doors since Jordan's highest court blocked American efforts to bring Ahlam Tamimi to trial in Washington.
He said that "Being ignored by senior public figures, members of Congress, their staffers, officials, diplomats - that's been startling for us. We've learned it's easier for them to pretend we're not there, to just not take our calls, to leave our emails unanswered. Who wants to bump heads with the bereaved parents of a murdered child?”
Roth explained that since the Department of Justice has pursued the criminal complaint against Tamimi, the biggest question was how the U.S. could get Jordan to extradite her, despite the Hashemite Kingdom’s refusal to do so thus far.
“My impression is that the Justice Department made an important step in 2017 by deciding to prosecute Tamimi and committing to bring her to trial in the U.S., but they have reached the limit of their jurisdiction,” Roth said in a phone call from Jerusalem, adding that the State Department’s handling of the case has been disappointing and frustrating for the most part.
“In the past few weeks and for the first time, a senior U.S. government figure has entered the picture and indicated to my wife and me that there are quiet moves to press Jordan to comply with the extradition treaty,” Roth said. “Though the years of inaction have been hugely frustrating, it has been good to hear they do indeed want to see Tamimi brought to trial in Washington. They say it’s a matter of how and when.”
Roth noted that Jordan’s King Abdullah regularly visits Washington and meets with senior U.S. officials, and that the Tamimi case has never been publicly raised in the context of those meetings. Just in recent months, the King had met with senior Trump administration officials while visiting the U.S. in September, and then hosted Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi when she visited Amman two weeks ago.
“Our family is completely not political,. We are not asking for anything except to see this person, who participated in the murder of our daughter, stand trial,” Roth said. “For us this is not about politics, it’s about justice.”
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No mainstream newspaper anywhere has taken up the Haaretz article or the development that it reports. Not even the Hebrew edition of Haaretz.

But starting this past weekend, there has been a wave of responses in the Arabic media. We have seen dozens of them already, all taking an essentially identical line.

That's reflected in the article we reproduce below, from an Arab source but in English.
MP calls for Jordan not to extradite freed Palestinian prisoner to US
Middle East  Monitor - November 11, 2019
Yahya Al-Saud, Jordanian MP and chairman of Palestine Committee in Jordanian Parliament, has called for Amman not to accept a US request to extradite freed female Palestinian prisoner Ahlam Al-Tamimi, Al-Resalah newspaper reported yesterday .
This call came in the wake of reports about tension between the US administration and Amman over the latter’s rejection of requests to extradite Al-Tamimi, who holds a Jordanian passport.
“The Jordanian government must protect its citizens and America cannot take on the role of international police officer,” Al-Saud said. “[America] has to take the side of the peace camp, not oppression camp,” he added.
“I think that I am representing the view of the Jordanian public in saying that the US is a partner in the occupation [of Palestine] through several measures it has taken in this regard.”
Al-Saud added: “Ahlam was sentenced and released. It is not acceptable to be sentenced twice. However, she did not commit a crime, but defended her country.”
In March 2017, the Jordanian Court of Cassation upheld a ruling of a lower court that Amman must not extradite Ahlam to the US as she is a Jordanian citizen.
Al-Tamimi was arrested by the Israeli occupation forces in 2001, sentenced and spent ten years in jail before she was released to Jordan in 2011 as part of a prisoner swap reached between the Palestinian resistance and Israel.
In 2017 she was included in the FBI’s most wanted list.
(For the record, Middle East Monitor routinely comes in for bitter criticism from well-informed observers (quoted in Wikipedia) who see it as "strongly pro-Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Hamas', a "conspiracy theory-peddling anti-Israel organisation" and "antisemitic".)

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We have not yet seen a single published comment or report in the Arabic language - not from a Jordanian source, not from any other part of the Arab world - responding to these developments by calling for Jordan to comply with its treaty obligations to its extremely generous foreign aid provider and critically important strategic partner, the US.

We find no Arab call demanding that this moral stain besmirching Jordan's place in the international community be removed. No expression of embarrassment by Jordanian thought leaders distancing themselves from the disgraceful enthusiasm for a self-avowed killer of Jewish children who has lived the live of a celebrity in the Hashemite Kingdom since returning to live there and raise her family, starting in 2011.

The massacre at central Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria took the lives of fifteen people, eight of them children including our Malki. A sixteenth victim, a young mother who was there with her two year old child, has remained in a vegetative state in all the years since then.

The government of Jordan in its customary fashion has stayed stoney silent about what the US has now said publicly about the treaty that Jordan disavows (i.e. that the US regards it as perfectly valid and enforceable). Jordan remains utterly silent as well about the appalling views expressed in its parliament about Tamimi and the US request to extradite her.

Jordan's years'-long public silence on every aspect of its illicit sheltering of confessed bomber and FBI Most Wanted Terrorist Ahlam Tamimi stands in shabby contrast to its many bold, principled and public declarations about its determination to fight terrorism. 

For instance, this news report below from a September 2019 oration by King Abdullah II. Notice its odd but characteristic use of the word "holistic" (see "03-Dec-17: Understanding Jordan's king and his "holistic" approach to terror"). 
"...Jordan launched the Aqaba Process in 2015. Our initiatives have aimed at building a strong global platform, enabling multiple stakeholders to share expertise and focus resources in the fight against terror," the King said. The holistic approach is a major feature of the Aqaba Process and the partnerships that it led to, His Majesty added. "It goes beyond security cooperation, to recognise the wide range of relevant efforts: law enforcement; education; inclusive, sustainable development, that gives people especially young people opportunity and hope; and conflict resolution, to achieve peaceful political solutions to the crises that terrorists exploit," the King said. His Majesty called for countering the extremist narrative, on-line and off-line. "This means fighting the ideological battle on behalf of core values humanity depends on: mutual respect, understanding, and coexistence," the King added. His Majesty urged more leaders to engage in this process. Speakers at the high-level meeting commended Jordan’s efforts in launching the Aqaba Process to bring stakeholders together with the goal of countering terrorism within a holistic approach. [From a Jordanian Foreign Ministry report on Leaders Dialogue: Strategic Responses to Terrorist and Violent Extremist Narratives (Source).]
Coming from the autocrat who keeps our child's killer, who confesses for the record to the bombing, safe and out of the clutches of the US Justice Department, the FBI and the Federal courts of the United States, the hypocrisy and sheer dishonesty on display here is disturbing.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

09-Nov-19: Another delegation from US Congress at Jordan's royal court. Did extradition come up?

That's Congressman Adam Smith (second from left) with Jordan's king
in the Jordanian royal palace this past Thursday [Image Source]
This post looks at yet another US Congressional delegation to fly into Jordan and meet with its king - the third such high level political mission in the past month.

As bereaved parents battling for years to get the criminally-indicted fugitive bomber who led the attack on a pizzeria sent to trial in Washington [see "20-Mar-17: The Hashemite Kingdom's courts have spoken: The murdering FBI fugitive will not be handed over"], we pay close attention to which American politicians visit Jordan.

The following account comes from the website of Jordan's embassy in Washington DC, and originates with Jordan's Royal Hashemite Court:
His Majesty King Abdullah, on Thursday [November 7, 2019] at Al Husseiniya Palace, received a US House of Representatives delegation, headed by Representatives (sic) Adam Smith, to discuss the strategic partnership between Jordan and the United States, and the latest regional developments.
During the meeting, attended by His Royal Highness Prince Feisal bin Al Hussein, King Abdullah expressed Jordan's appreciation for the support provided by the United States in development and defence, emphasising the important role of Congress in this regard.
The meeting also covered efforts to reach political solutions to crises in the Middle East and restore security and stability to the peoples of the region, as well as regional and international efforts to counter terrorism within a holistic approach.
For their part, members of the congressional delegation underscored the strength of US-Jordanian ties and keenness to bolster them in various fields, expressing appreciation for Jordan’s role, led by His Majesty, in promoting peace and stability in the region.
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Adviser to His Majesty for Communication and Coordination Bisher Khasawneh, Adviser to His Majesty for Policies and Media Kemal Al Nasser, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Maj. Gen. Yousef Hneiti attended the meeting.
We reached out to Rep. Adam Smith's office yesterday, asking four questions. We have gotten a "we're onto it" letter today but nothing of substance. We're waiting.

Image Source: Aljazeera
A Democrat, he's an important figure, serving currently as U.S. Representative for Washington's 9th congressional district and since earlier this year as chair of the House Armed Services Committee.

We sent similar questions to the office of Rep. Jason Crow (Democrat - represents Colorado's 6th congressional district) who visited the king in Jordan on October 6, 2019 [see "08-Oct-19: Again: Jordan's inscrutable US relationship"]. No one from his office has troubled to reply. We have made numerous attempts.

We sent similar questions as well to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Democrat - represents Caliifornia's 12th district) who headed a large and senior delegation to Jordan two weeks ago ["19-Oct-19: House Speaker Pelosi led an official visit today to the chief protector of our child's killer"].

Speaker Pelosi's group included (in alphabetical order by surname to avoid offending anyone's pride):
Congresswoman Susan Davis (Democrat CA-53 and "one of the House Armed Services Committee’s most senior members"); Rep. Eliot Engel (Democrat; chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; represents New York's 16th District); Rep. Ron Kind (Democrat; represents Wisconsin's 3rd District; member of the House Ways and Means Committee); Congresswoman Elaine Luria (Democrat; represents Virginia's 2nd district; a member of the House Armed Services Committee); Rep. Stephen Lynch (Democrat - represents Massachusetts's 8th District; currently chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security which is a subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform); Rep. Adam Schiff (Democrat - represents California's 28th district; chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence); Rep. Bennie Thompson (Democrat - represents Mississippi's 2nd District; currently chair of the House Homeland Security Committee); Rep. William "Mac" Thornberry (the only Republican in the group; represents Texas' 13th District; ranking member in the House Armed Services Committee which he chaired for four years until January 2019).
No response to our numerous messages to each of the members of the Pelosi delegation has been received. None. Not even an acknowledgment.

We expect a higher degree of transparency and responsiveness from Congress people doing the business of the nation when calling on foreign leaders.

And that's before we start trying to explain to people how soul-destroying it is to be a bereaved family trying to bring a child's confessed killer to justice and running into endless US government roadblocks. Our murdered child, Malka Chana Roth, was fifteen and a US citizen when her life was stolen from her in the massacre at Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria. The mastermind of that Hamas-inspired barbarism lives free as a bird in Jordan under the confounding protection of Jordan's autocratic king and his law courts.

We're also deeply irked by the total absence (as far as we can tell) of US push-back by members of Congress in general and particularly these representatives, all of them, to Jordan's brazen conduct in asserting that a key treaty with its most important foreign partner is somehow void - not only now but from thhe day in 1995 it was signed by King Hussein (the father of Jordan's current king) and President Bill Clinton.

The US State Department, which was curiously silent on the matter till exactly a week ago, now says publicly and for the record that
In 2018, Jordan continued to cite a court ruling that its constitution forbids the extradition of Jordanian nationals. The United States regards the extradition treaty as valid. [Source: Latest annual edition of State Department Country Reports on Terrorism (Published November 1, 2019) at page 135. For our commentary, see "03-Nov-19: In Washington, a step towards bringing the Sbarro bomber to justice"]
If and when we hear something substantive from Rep. Adam Smith's office, we plan to report it here.