Friday, August 27, 2021

27-Aug-21: Peace, terror and Jordan's under-reported attachment to anti-Jewish bigotry

Jordan's King Abdullah is received in President Joseph R. Biden's Oval Office, July 19, 2021

We anticipated the fawning reception King Abdullah II of Jordan would receive during his three week tour of the US in July. 

We were ready for the high-intensity five days of meetings he had with President Joseph R. Biden in the Oval Office, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and with a long list of Washington insiders both in the Congress and around it, very few of whom have shown the smallest interest in engaging with us. (Details to follow.)

Everything was more or less predictable,

Less expected and seriously unwelcome was how the Washington media remained, almost entirely without exception, docile to the point of self-parody, lacking all desire to seize on the obvious issues thrown up by the King Abdullah royal tour. 


The issues from which the intrepid reporters shy away as they have for years are dramatic, involving murdered American young women, a killer who boasts of the lives she destroyed, and brazen efforts to evade a long-standing treaty obligation. 

It's startling to us how wide a consensus there appears to be among reporters and their editors in America's news industry that Jordan's role in harboring the admitted bomber of a busy pizzeria filled with children (and targeted for that very reason) is untouchable. 

Turkish news report from 2016
We hoped right to the end that the Ahlam Tamimi case would get some degree of analytical attention in the public parts of July's unusually long and extensively reported Royal Hashemite state visit. But it got approximately none.

Those factors among others are behind an opinion piece Arnold Roth co-wrote with Dr Sharon S. Nazarian of the Anti-Defamation League that is published today on the Forward website ["Jordan has a public antisemitism problem. Why isn’t the U.S. holding them accountable?"].

It's hard for us (Frimet and Arnold Roth) to deny our perspective is subjective and affected by our personal experiences. We are the parents of one of the two American nationals murdered by Jordanian terrorist Ahlam Tamimi in the Sbarro massacre. Starting in 2012, we pressed for the fugitive to be charged under US law. And once that happened, we kept asking the US to explain to Jordan what it needed to do next; to extradite Tamimi to stand trial on those charges in Washington as the 1995 Jordan/US treaty requires.

This process has put us on a steep learning curve. 

Once Jordan - a country of 10 million inhabitants of whom almost none are Jewish - defied the US extradition request ["23-Mar-17: Looking for justice in Jordan, Jerusalem and Washington"], we began being treated to a long line of senior officials in three US administrations - Obama, Trump, Biden - practically falling over themselves to keep the whole mess under wraps. 

No less troubling, a strangely uncurious media failed - and continues to fail - to question what was going on. The failure is on show and damning right up until today. 

Being treated contemptibly by powerful officials, finding that all our questions go unanswered or get mechanical, thoroughly meaningless mantra-like responses has been for us a chilling experience.

Meanwhile we, a bereaved couple armed with few tanks and even fewer battleships, felt we were perceived, and still are, as some kind of hostile force. 

We recognize the principles of realpolitik that underlie the US-Jordan relationship. But what we understand a lot less well is why those charged with pretending they don't exist think that they alone can see the big picture that eludes grieving parents. We tried making that point in July as Jordan's king sailed through Washington's halls of power ["25-Jul-21: What we said in the media about King Abdullah's visit"]

But there's a flip side. The diplomatic seers seem blinded to a companion reality that is all too apparent to us and it's this: Jordan, despite the peace treaty with Israel, remains a hotbed of vicious Jew-hatred.

To be clear: Like most of our neighbors and friends, we want to see good and better relations with Jordan. It's a goal with which we totally identify. But justice is a powerful goal too. And it's clear to us Jordan has for decades been in the grip of a powerful hatred that will define the future unless its leadership takes determined steps to change direction. 

We have searched and we would welcome bring told how wrong we are. But there is simply no evidence that King Abdullah either intends those changes or has ever acknowledged the vast problem exists.

So we will be blunt. The ongoing Tamimi travesty illustrates Jordan's continued commitment to a culture of deep bigotry towards Jews. Its brazen breach of a strategic treaty with its most important ally and supporter is not a special case but an example of a much broader mind-set and systemic policy failure. 

Here are three more.

 Making serious trouble on the Temple Mount

Jordan secretly maintains its own “incitement force” on the Old City of Jerusalem's Temple Mount as part of a kingdom-driven policy of Israel-focused calculated violence and overt trouble-making. This emerges from a research paper published August 6, 2021 by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (known as the BESA Center), a think tank doing policy-relevant research on Middle Eastern and global strategic affairs and based at Israel's Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan. 

In "Jordan’s “Incitement Force” on the Temple Mount", the author, Dr. Edy Cohen, an Israel intelligence service veteran, quotes Jordan's current Minister of Religions revealing that some 850 Jordanians are working at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on behalf of Jordan’s Ministry of Religion. 

Here's why this is startling. Jordan is an economic basket case that is the world's third-largest recipient of US foreign aid amounting to billions of dollars in US tax-payer-funded contributions each year. Yet it manages to find some NIS 56 million (roughly US $17.5 million) annually to keep this ugly strategy going, according to the BESA analysis. 

What underpins this madness is the little-publicized rivalry between Hashemite Jordan and Saudi Arabia which rules the desert kingdom from which the Hashemites were forced to flee a century ago. The Saudi/Jordanian rivalry centers on Jerusalem's sacred Islamic sites as a kind of counter-balance to the control the hold the Saudis have over Mecca and Medina as their 'guardians'. 

Jordan is known to fear moves that might end its term as guardian of the Jerusalem sites. The kingdom's minister of religion, Dr. Muhammad Khalaila, told a parliamentary committee that those 850 workers are registered as employees of Jordan's Ministry of Religion. Dr Cohen notes that this strikes an odd note for people tuned in to events in the Old City: 

"As anyone visiting the mosque can attest, no more than a few dozen Jordanian Waqf security guards are visible—not hundreds, and certainly nowhere near 850. So who are the others, where are they, and what are they doing? The most likely hypothesis is that those workers are used as mercenaries of a sort in times of crisis. Many significant gatherings have sprung up almost instantly on the Temple Mount in recent years whenever the site deteriorated into violence—during the recent Gaza war, during the magnetometer riots (July 2017), during the Mercy Gate crisis (March 2019), and in many other violent outbursts. The Jordanian workers might serve as a “rapid incitement force” that increases the volume of the event, stirs up the crowd, and stimulates it to conduct riots, or joins with the crowd to create a sense of “togetherness” against the “occupation.” If each of those Jordanians brings along one or two young men, in a short time thousands of rioters can be expected. This allows the organizers of the riots to put tremendous pressure on the Israeli authorities and render it difficult for them to calm the situation. The road from there to surrender is short."

Given the current fog of confusion and doubt that characterizes Israel's Jordan relations, the worrying questions these revelations throw up are unlikely to get any useful answers.

 Antisemitism in Jordanian Textbooks?

A carefully-argued report by the Anti Defamation League published four months ago (and almost totally ignored by the media) says that an ADL review of Jordanian middle school and high school textbooks finds the kingdom's textbooks fuel and foster antisemitism. Those books are official parts of today's educational curriculum.

The report's author, David Andrew Weinberg, ADL’s Washington Director for International Affairs, focuses his research and writing on antisemitic incitement in the Middle East. 

Among the messages injected into the minds of Jordanian school-children, he quotes these:

  • "The Israelites who did not believe in Jesus, peace be upon him, wanted to be rid of him and eliminate his call, so they tried to kill him" but because of a divine intervention "they grabbed someone who resembled him from among the people, and they killed and crucified the lookalike..."
  • A textbook that teaches “the historical roots of the Palestinian issue” presents an array of civilizations that inhabited the area but makes no mention of Jews or Israelites until the 19th century, at which point it notes the emergence of “Zionist greed in Palestine,” in league with imperialist powers.  
  • The Zionist movement is defined as “a racist, settler political movement aimed at establishing a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine, founded on historical claims without basis in truth.” 
  • Jewish links to Jerusalem are “founded on historical and religious claims without any actual grounds on which to base them”.
  • Treachery is a characteristic Jewish trait,
  • The deadly riots of 1929 were because of Jewish actions and religious claims. The riots “broke out because of the Zionists’ claim that the Buraq Wall [better known as the Kotel or Western Wall] led to "transgression on the Islamic holy sites, so they [the Arabs] attacked groups of participating Jews at the Buraq Wall”
  • Totally inverting the 1969 attempted arson attack by a mentally-unwell Australia Christian visitor on an Islamic holy site on the Temple Mount, a Jordanian text says "Israelis had the audacity to burn the al-Aqsa Mosque". The unsuccessful arson attack is listed under "Israeli Occupation assaults on the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque". 
  • It teaches that current Israeli archeological sites “seek to link everything discovered to fake Talmudic narratives... to claim that they have extended historical roots in Jerusalem and Palestine” and therefore to “forge historical facts.” 
  • Israeli excavations in Jerusalem "intentionally aim" to harm the Arab economy and to “secure the Jewish settlers who come to Jerusalem to practice their Talmudic rituals.”  
  • Treason and the breaking of pacts are among the characteristics of the Jews and the hypocrites.

There's a special irony in how the breaking of pacts is ascribed to Jews. Since March 2017, it has been Jordan itself ["26-Jul-17: We listened carefully to Jordan's foreign minister and we have 10 questions"] that spins a disingenuous tale about a narrow and highly technical flaw in the way its 1995 extradition treaty with the US. That alleged flaw is the sole basis on which Jordan fails to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, who confesses to the the bombing massacre of the Sbarro pizzeria where our daughter's life ended. Jordan argues it isn't a breach at all because the treaty was never ratified, We now hold documentary proof that that this is untrue. 

The US has very quietly continued since 2017 to say the treaty is valid and in force. Throughout the years since then, it has incomprehensibly failed to make a single public call for Jordan to honor it.

The author of the ADL report in a summing up that to us sounds remarkably restrained says that

if Jordan keeps publishing official textbooks that demonize Israel, Jews, and Judaism in such a manner, the next generation may be less likely to support this relationship, nor the desirability of peace with Israel more generally. 

 Jordan is a hotbed of seriously antisemitic views. What if anything is its government doing to change that?

Some findings again from the ADL. No one comes close to its statistics-driven insights into the current state of antisemitic sentiment worldwide and the dynamics behind. And while it's certainly an issue that deserves careful thought and wide attention, it's the Jordan aspect that we feel the need to highlight here and now.

On a published index they call the ADL GLOBAL 100: AN INDEX OF ANTI-SEMITISM®, their researchers ascribe a score to most of the world's countries. Their methodology is laid out in clear terms. It's a respected analysis.

Jordan, the last time the study was done there in 2014, weighs in with an index score of 81%. This isn't something to ignore. For comparison purposes, that ranks Jordanians among Muslim and Arab countries as more antisemitic than Morocco, Qatar, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran. 

They are also substantially more antisemitic than the Middle East and North African countries taken as a whole (average index score of 74%). And between twice and three times more antisemitic than (ranking them in order from most antisemitic to least) Eastern Europe, then Sub-Saharan Africa, then Asia as a whole, then the Americas and finally Oceania.

This blog post isn't meant to encourage hatred or criticism of Jordan or Jordanians. 

Source
But when its ruler spends most of the month of July traveling around the United States, being received with uncommon courtesy and often with striking enthusiasm by political leaders at the very highest level - and certainly including America's Jewish leaders - we wish they would pause before launching into gushing praise. 

They could and should ask the man who owns and runs the Hashemite Kingdom. In our words:

Your Majesty, is this the way to bring peace? When will you acknowledge publicly that the devotion to hatred and violent extremism (by which we of course mean terrorism) among your subjects and institutions at every level of the society over which you preside is an embarrassment and a serious impediment to everything your friends want to help you achieve?

Ahlam Tamimi needs to be extradited now as the treaty made by the father of today's king with his American allies demands. 

Changing course, handing her over to US law enforcement without further unconscionable delay, will be one step, but an important one, in the direction of addressing issues that sadly and avoidably push peace further away rather than draw it closer.

27-Aug-21: What we said to Secretary of State Blinken about our child's murder and how he replied

State Department Building via Wikipedia
It has been a miserable experience trying for years to convey serious, passionately-held, respectful views to a whole array of officials and politicians in our own country and beyond it. 

The process, not a political one in our view, has involved calling them to action where that action is to fulfill a duty they clearly would have even if the call had not been made. 

Sure, this shouldn't be a miserable experience. But it most certainly has been and continues to be for us. We and our views have been demeaned and ignored through three US administrations though they are all about the doing of justice, unrelated to advancing a political agenda of any kind, and unmarred by any personal benefit to us.

In political terms, it's an ongoing bi-partisan failure. To be clear as we can - the failure is thoroughly deserved by both major parties. Neither one, and only a small handful of their law-makers, comes out of this with even the smallest amount of honor. 


Right now, our focus is on the US. 

Ahlam Tamimi, 2021: Openly admits she bombed Sbarro
We emailed the letter below to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on June 15, 2021 with courtesy copies emailed to three of his key advisers. We received two separate acknowledgements from Blinken staffers to say the letter was received. We then responded with several follow-up emails asking that a substantive response be sent to what were clearly substantive comments and requests.

We have gotten none. 

It's time we shared some of the shabby background. State Department officials up and down the seniority chain have egregiously ignored us since long-sealed US federal charges were finally unveiled on March 14, 2017 against Ahlam Tamimi. The Jordanian woman, a prominent Islamist, openly admits she bombed the Sbarro pizzeria causing the deaths of many innocents including our daughter Malki who was 15. 

Tamimi lives free today in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a US ally that has had an active extradition treaty with the US since the Clinton era.

Jordan began brazenly refusing to honor the treaty six days after the charges were unsealed in Washington. Right up until today, it allows Tamimi to live in the kingdom as a free and unhampered citizen, embraced and honored by Jordanian society and the Arab world's media

This is a disgrace.
Frimet and Arnold Roth 
June 15, 2021

Hon. Anthony J. Blinken 
Secretary of State
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Blinken:

According to recent media reports, King Abdullah II of Jordan is coming to Washington, D.C. at the end of June for high-level meetings. We are writing to urge that Jordan’s harboring of FBI Most Wanted Terrorist, Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, be on the agenda.

More than eight years ago, a federal judge authorized Tamimi’s arrest on federal terrorism charges. Jordan refused U.S. requests to extradite Tamimi, breaching a 1995 bilateral treaty, a matter that was subsequently kept out of State Department briefings, virtually unmentioned in the media and for all practical purposes swept under the rug of the Obama and Trump administrations.

We are in a new era. President Biden has spoken of conducting diplomacy inspired by America’s most cherished democratic values: defending freedom, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, treating every person with dignity. We are inspired by this very welcome approach.

Our daughter, Malki, a 15 year old U.S. national, was murdered in a mass-casualty terror attack on a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem in 2001 that specifically targeted children. Tamimi, as we believe you are aware, boasts of her principal role in the attack. After her release by Israel in an extortionate prisoner exchange in 2011, she received a hero’s welcome in her native Jordan. In March 2017, the U.S. made public its request that Jordan extradite her. Just six days later, Jordan’s Court of Cassation ruled that the 1995 extradition treaty between the U.S. and Jordan is a nullity, applying a juridical veneer to the kingdom’s determination to stand by the fugitive bomber.

Beyond losing Malki, a talented and vivacious teenager deeply immersed in helping others and especially children with disabilities, the curse of our lives is that the admitted murderer is a hero in Jordan where she is seemingly immune from justice. For reasons better understood by politicians than by us, there appears to be support in the State Department and other parts of the U.S. government for the idea that when it comes to Tamimi, Jordan and its ruler must be protected from demands for justice.

This is more than merely a personal nightmare for a pair of grieving parents. With the active connivance of the Hashemite royal palace and the government of one of the U.S.’ most trusted and financially dependent allies, Tamimi remains a lightning rod for hateful, even genocidal, sentiments that fester in Jordan and other parts of the Arab and Muslim world. Her freedom and celebrity validate the notion that if Jordanians will only push back hard enough against U.S. pressure, the legitimacy of extreme violence in the service of the Palestinian Arab cause will prevail.

As much as we have been able, we have reached out to Washington seeking to elicit support and action. The details are rich and dismaying. We get routinely told that people sympathize with us and with Tamimi’s other American victims. High-ranking officials reassure us that efforts – real, serious efforts – are ongoing and that seeing justice done is a major priority. We have heard this for years. But in more candid, moments, we are also told that if Jordan extradites Tamimi, the king will lose his throne, Jordan will fall to unspecified dark forces, and the Middle East will erupt in worse turmoil than there is already.

This cannot be the end of the matter. We have concrete suggestions for pressing Jordan to comply with U.S. law and policy, not to mention fundamental decency:
One: Congress adopted funding cutoffs as potential sanctions directed at Jordan in the 2020 and 2021 appropriations measures. Even as unrealized threats, they garnered serious attention in the Jordanian press and have perhaps had some salutary effect. But there are additional, less draconian steps that can adopted to send the essential message without upsetting strategic interests. We quietly shared several ideas with the previous administration to no obvious avail. We profess no special expertise or monopoly on ideas for finessing this aspect. But we will be pleased to share them with you. 
Two: In terms of how the U.S. responds to Jordan’s position, this cannot be a simple matter of “the court has spoken.” Not until Tamimi had been very briefly taken into custody in Jordan in 2017, some 25 years after the extradition treaty took effect, was its Court of Cassation called upon to find that the treaty is a dead letter on the grounds that its parliament never ratified it. Yet, in its ruling, the court failed to address the documented reality that on at least three earlier occasions Jordan complied with US requests to extradite fugitive Jordanian terrorists.
Three: Jordan explained neither before nor after the 2017 ruling why it has not solved the Tamimi problem by simply having its parliament ratify the treaty with its close ally and far-and-away most important benefactor. This failure is even more striking in view of how Jordan has entered numerous extradition treaties with other countries since 1995, including as recently as last month (Ukraine). If the parliament has not been called to fix the problem yet, that would seem to mean the king does not want the problem fixed. It is time to change that approach.
Four: The Court of Cassation’s 2017 ruling makes no mention of what we know to be true - that Jordan’s revered King Hussein did in fact ratify the treaty in 1995. Jordan formally communicated this to the United States in 1995 and we now possess the actual documents, recently obtained via FOIA. The bitter reality is Jordan abrogates King Hussein’s (literally) sacred pledge to the U.S. to abide by the treaty and pretends not to notice. What message does King Abdullah II’s government send by this? And why has the United States failed to speak out publicly? For their part, the media have failed to investigate or challenge the egregious thwarting of justice. It is time all the secrecy was ended. It is time for King Abdullah to hear the truth.
Our battle to see justice done has played out against a background where values and principles have been overwhelmed by classic realpolitik. We are compelled to ask how it can be that Jordan’s perceived weakness and vulnerability render the U.S. powerless in the face of Jordan's intransigence? Do Jordan’s perceived vulnerabilities truly mean America must stand by as Jordan educates its people to believe the murder of children because they are Jewish – and even if American - is acceptable?

There needs to be a will, and the way will follow. King Abdullah II should be made to understand that. With the greatest of respect and with utmost sincerity, we ask that these matters be raised in the upcoming meetings and pursued vigorously.

Respectfully,
Frimet and Arnold Roth

cc: Hon. Jake Sullivan
Hon. Barbara A. Leaf
Hon. Brett H. McGurk
So to reiterate, none of the recipients have so far seen fit to respond. The two brief and formal acknowledgements of receipt - and no one needs to tell us to be grateful for getting those since our emails to politicians mostly get no acknowledgement of receipt at all - came from assistants.

King Abdullah's week in Washington, which started with an official reception in the White House on Monday July 19, 2021, was packed with meetings and discussions. Was the Tamimi-Jordan-extradition-justice issue on the agenda at any of them? The answer to that simple question is absurdly complicated and requires an explanation which we are ready to give. But here is what the public record shows:
July 20, 2021 
Department Press Briefing – July 20, 2021 [Online here and archived here]
Ned Price, Department Spokesperson

QUESTION: Let me follow on that a little bit real quick. Can I ask you very quickly about Jordan, the meeting with the king this morning and the Secretary? I just want to know if the Tamimi extradition issue came up. As you’re aware, last year the then-ambassador nominee but now the ambassador told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that withholding aid or aid could be used as leverage to secure her extradition to the States to face murder charges.

MR PRICE: Well, I expect we’ll have a readout of the Secretary’s meeting with His Majesty the King later today. When it comes to Ms. al-Tamimi, she is on the FBI’s most wanted list for her role in the 2001 Hamas attack in Jerusalem. We continue to seek her extradition. We’ll continue to work to ensure that she faces justice.

QUESTION: Yeah. Well, did it come up?

MR PRICE: I’m not in a position to speak to the meeting, but we’ll have a readout —

QUESTION: Well, are you – I mean, are you – has this administration yet raised it with – raised the matter with Jordanian authorities, the King or not? Or is this something that would have just come up for the first time today?

MR PRICE: This issue has been raised with our Jordanian partners.
Clear?

We will lay out what we know in a separate blog post that we plan to post in the next few days.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

24-Aug-21: Twenty years after the Sbarro massacre: A Zev Brenner audio interview

Our thanks to Zev Brenner whose popular Talkline radio/audio show has been an influential fixture of Jewish life in the US, and especially the New York area, for decades.

Rabbi Brenner recently hosted Arnold Roth on his August 9, 2021 program to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Sbarro Jerusalem massacre which violently ended our daughter Malki's life

From the promotional notes:
Arnold Roth, whose daughter Malki was killed in the terrorist bombing of Sbarro Pizza 20 years ago talks about what happened. Mr. Roth is also seeking justice by having Malki's killer extradited from Jordan where she enjoys the good life. Unfortunately he's been stymied by politicians here and in Israel. Click to hear his quest for justice. This podcast is powered by Jewish Podcasts. Start your own podcast today and share your content with the world.

Click to listen to the audo of the Zev Brenner/Arnold Roth interview.

Or hear it via Jewish Podcasts.

Monday, August 23, 2021

23-Aug-21: Turbulent dimensions, years of pushing: Seeking justice with the help of StandWithUs

From an April 2021 Stand With Us announcement headed Bringing Our Child's Murderer To Justice:

In 2001, Malki Roth was murdered in the Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing in Jerusalem along with 15 other people. Now, Interpol has dropped the international arrest warrant for the mastermind behind this heinous terrorist attack, Ahlam Tamimi. Tamimi, who now lives in Jordan, has shown no remorse for her despicable crimes.

On this week’s episode of StandWithUs TV Live, Malki’s father, Arnold Roth will join us in conversation with Roz Rothstein, StandWithUs Co-founder and CEO, about terrorism, the impact Malki’s tragic death had on his family and the battle to have Tamimi extradited to the US to face charges.

Join us live on Facebook: Sunday, April 11, 11:00AM Pacific time.

Our great and sincere thanks to Roz Rothstein and her indefatigable team of professionals and activists for their many years of fine work.

Here's the video:

Sunday, August 22, 2021

22-Aug-21: Hosted by CAMERA, Arnold Roth explains a fight for justice

Arnold Roth was interviewed six months ago on behalf of Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, better known as CAMERA, by Andrea Levin, its Executive Director and President. 

Andrea writes and lectures widely on media coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict and its impact on public opinion.

This interview, under the title "Terrorism: Seeking justice for its victims" went to air live on February 11, 2021.  


In terms of interviews and media appearances, the past few months - and especially July - have been unusually busy for us. From conversations with supporters and friends, we realize it's hard to keep track of those media appearances, interviews, background reports and so on. 

Many of our most loyal allies haven't seen or aren't even aware of some of the still small but growing volume of media coverage of our campaign for justice.  

So we plan to post here on our blog - in most cases months after their original publication - at least some of those media events. 

Please stand by as we work through the backlog. 

Friday, August 13, 2021

13-Aug-21: An extinguished, precious life remembered in Melbourne

Twenty years ago we started the endless process of adjusting to life without our delightful first-born daughter Malka Chana - Malki to her friends - stolen from us before she reached her sixteenth birthday.

Our copy of the Melbourne Herald-Sun's 
front page report on August 11, 2001 is
damaged. We are trying to acquire a repaired
image.
It wasn't an illness or a tragic accident that removed Malki from the warm embrace of those who loved her. It was a gang of ideology-crazed thugs led by a chillingly satanic Jordanian woman, armed with a powerful explosive package disguised as a human being, an Arab man in his twenties, and egged on by millions of backers. 

Those millions still exert a deeply painful influence on our lives.

We scan the Arabic social media six days a week. This week on the day of the twentieth anniversary we saw - though we didn't need it - plenty of evidence of how utterly different the world in which they live their lives is from ours in this generations-long war of terror. 

It's a war that Arabs launched against against Jews in Palestine long before the name Palestine was appropriated by the Arab side. And decades before the State of Israel announced its existence as new-born state on the 1948 day the British Mandate ended and six Arab armies invaded.

A random selection of some deeply hostile and ugly anniversary messages appearing on Twitter (minus the links - we have no interest in giving these people traffic or attention):

  • Today marks the twentieth anniversary of Operation Sbarro carried out by the martyr Izz Al-Din Al-Masri in Jaffa Street in occupied Jerusalem with the help of the liberated captive Ahlam Al-Tamimi in retaliation for the martyrdom of the two leaders Gamal Selim and Jamal Mansour [Arabic]
  • ..A martyrdom operation in the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem which led to the deaths of 20 Zionists and the wounding of 100 [Arabic]
  • We do not want to forget the liberated captive, Ahlam Al-Tamimi, who carried the attacker of the Sbarro restaurant, Izz Al-Din Al-Masri, to the restaurant after which she was arrested by the occupation army [Arabic]
  • Prepare it for them in the manner of the people of Aqaba and serve it [pizza] hot and delicious. Al-Masri [the name of the human bomb], go through here. Occupied Jerusalem August 9, 2001 [Arabic]
  • Proud of our representative from the family in the heroic operation. The liberated captive, Ahlam Al-Tamimi, who transported the martyr Izz Al-Din Al-Masri and handed him a guitar stuffed with maddening death [Arabic - posted by a male with the surname Tamimi]
  • ...Al-Masri was killed on the responsibility of the Jews and their responsibility is extensive [Arabic]
  • If her parents hadn’t chosen to become foreign invaders she’d probably be alive now
  • My argument is with the creation of an apartheid theocratic state created by the West (mostly by the US and Britain) in Palestine largely so Jews wouldn't immigrate to the US. I'm a Jew not an Israeli Zionist. She should never have been put in this position by her dad.

We saw no Arabic messages condemning or criticizing Tamimi or the massacre. They might exist and we're just not seeing them, but the truth is we have been looking for years and not finding.

Malki, like her father, was born in Australia. The current edition of the Australian Jewish News, a weekly community-focused newspaper, ran this editorial on Thursday. It's reprinted with the permission of its editor, Zeddy Lawrence.

‘A precious life extinguished’

"THE Australian Jewish community was in mourning this week," reported The AJN 20 years ago, on Friday, August 17, 2001. "The death of 15-year-old Malki Roth in the Sbarro bombing catapulted Israel's crisis into personal grief for much of this community."

Fifteen innocent people were killed in the terrorist attack just a few days earlier, when a guitar case packed with nails was detonated at the central Jerusalem pizza restaurant. Among the victims were seven people aged between just two and 16. Scores of other diners were wounded.

Reflecting on the death of his daughter at the time, Arnold Roth told The AJN, "This was the extinguishing of a precious life."

Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi, who masterminded the attack and drove the bomber to the restaurant, was apprehended by Israel soon afterwards and sentenced to 16 life terms in an Israeli jail. But in 2011, she was one of more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners freed in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit, who had been held hostage in Gaza for five years.

Since that time, Tamimi has lived in Jordan, feted as a celebrity, and expressing her joy at the high death toll the Sbarro bombing inflicted.

Determined to bring her back to justice, Arnold and his American-born wife Frimet have long called for her to be extradited to the US, as Malki and another victim held American citizenship.

A warrant was issued, but insisting the extradition treaty between the countries was never ratified, Jordan has never acted on it.

The latest evidence, however, appears to show that the treaty was indeed signed.

With that in mind, as the community marks 20 years since Malki's death, the Roths are hoping their sustained campaign may bear fruit.

Pressure is mounting within Washington for the US to withhold foreign assistance from Jordan, and they're urging the Australian government – who they claim have been reticent to speak out – to also take a stand.

Twenty years on, we share their hope that the authorities, both here and Stateside, will take action, so that the unrepentant, bragging terrorist who has Malki's blood on her hands will soon be back behind bars, where she belongs.

The same AJN edition carried this front-page article by senior journalist Peter Kohn:

Still seeking justice for Malki Roth

ON the 20th of Av this year (July 29), Arnold and Frimet Roth visited the Israeli grave of Malki Roth and recited Kaddish. It was their daughter’s yahrzeit – 20 years after the Australian-born teenager was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack at a Jerusalem pizzeria, along with 15 others, including seven children.

As seen on news-stands across
Australia this week
“Life was heavy,” Malki’s father told The AJN this week, reflecting on the yahrzeit. “You’re missing somebody desperately and feel awful about the fact that she’s not part of your life.”

But this Monday, August 9, the secular anniversary of Malki’s killing, Roth was back on Zoom and on the phone continuing his relentless campaign to see Ahlam Tamimi, the mastermind of the attack, extradited from Jordan to the US. “The ninth of August … that’s all about justice,” he stated.

Tamimi had picked out the Sbarro pizzeria targeted by her and another bomber on August 9, 2001, her accomplice dying in the attack. Tamimi left the scene disguised as a tourist, later professing her glee as the ever-rising death toll was reported.

Although sentenced in Israel to 16 consecutive life terms, she was exchanged in a 2011 prisoner swap to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity. She continues to be feted as a media celebrity in Jordan, and, according to Roth, she recently added a regular newspaper column to her stint as a Jordanian TV show host.

In the US, she faces charges relating to the death of two American citizens – Malki, who held dual citizenship, being one of them – and an extradition request was issued in 2017.

But four years on, Roth is still battling three governments to get Tamimi extradited.

For years, the US had maintained its hands were tied because Jordan had not ratified its extradition treaty, a position stated by a Jordanian court in 2017. However, in 2019, Roth learned from an American official that Jordan had indeed ratified the treaty as far back as 1995.

Last year, under US freedom-of-information laws, he even received an archived letter from Jordan’s former monarch King Hussein to the US State Department confirming that fact. He is hopeful this legal development will provide a much needed stepping stone.

Desperate for the Australian government to weigh in, Roth’s entreaties to Malcolm Turnbull when he was PM did not bear fruit. Approaches to Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year were referred to Foreign Minister Marise Payne, whose office cited constitutional problems in Jordan with extraditing its nationals, an assertion Roth rejects because oddly “it goes beyond what the Jordanians say”.

In Israel meanwhile, Roth says his fight to have Tamimi extradited to the US has been “betrayed by a chain of Netanyahu governments and, so far at least, by the new government. Of course, Israel could do something. But Israel has no charges against this woman. Israel has washed its hands of the case.”

Roth’s growing perception is that justice for Malki has become expendable to higher policy priorities in Jerusalem, Washington and Canberra.

“There’s a lot of group-think going on – among Israelis, among Americans, among media people,” he said, describing Tamimi as “the most wanted female fugitive alive today”.

The Roths maintain their ties to the families of other victims of the Sbarro bombing, particularly to a victim who remains “in a vegetative state”, he said.

Arnold remains honorary chair of the Malki Foundation, established in his daughter’s memory to support children with disabilities. Malki had been a caring, loving companion to her severely disabled younger sister and others with special needs.

“A 15-year-old girl who had a legacy – it’s unbelievable, but she did,” exclaimed Roth. “She was so good, so empathetic, so involved in making the world better for children with special needs.”

This blog isn't a memorial to our daughter. That function belongs to the website of the Malki Foundation (www.kerenmalki.org). We hope you will visit it.

In the context of terrorism and the worldwide efforts to defeat it, we write here at the site you are now visiting about our efforts to bring Malki's killers to justice - in particular Ahlam Tamimi. the Jordanian orchestrator of the massacre at Sbarro twenty years ago. 

Tamimi, now 41 years old and a celebrity in the Arab world, lives free and famous in her homeland despite being the world's most woman female fugitive with a $5M reward issued by the US State Department for her capture and conviction. 

One valuable way to give us your support is to sign our petition at change.org/ExtraditeTamimi

Sunday, July 25, 2021

25-Jul-21: What we said in the media about King Abdullah's visit

Last week in the White House
Jordan's King Abdullah II is now back on Jordanian soil after more than three weeks of official travels in the United States. Only the last part - about a week in and around Washington - has gotten media coverage in the US. 

If, as we think is the case, his intentions and those of his handlers were to avoid getting cornered on the Tamimi issue, it has pretty much turned out to be a stunning success. 

He was not interviewed at all as far as we can tell, though we see he is advertised to be appearing later today on the weekly CNN talk show hosted by Fareed Zakaria. (This was very likely recorded before he left Washington.) 

He also succeeded in making not a single public comment about Jordan harboring for the past near-decade the self-confessed bomber of Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria. Did he make statements about this behind closed doors? We may never know but as of the time of writing, the answer appears to be no.

We worked hard at trying to be heard. The US media have never made that easy and we are grateful to all the talented and willing professionals, colleagues and friends who advised us and gave a helping hand. 

The results, meaning what got published, are in the table below. (It's an embedded PDF - if you have problems accessing it, please be in touch with us at thisongoingwar@gmail.com) 

The actual results are another matter. We will be updating on them shortly.


Friday, July 23, 2021

23-Jul-21: Telling Meghan McCain about our search for justice

Just a few days before the arrival of Jordan's King Abdullah II to a week of being wined and dined and lavishly honored by Washington's most powerful, most connected and most important decision makers, Frimet and Arnold Roth had the opportunity to be heard on one of America's most watched TV programs.

"The View" co-host Meghan McCain invited the parents of Malki Roth, murdered in the terrorist attack on a Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria, to explain to her ABC Emmy-Award-winning daytime talk show audience how they are trying to get the United States to press its strategic ally Jordan to hand the killer over to US justice.

It's been a busy week with more media access than we have had in all the years of trying to create awareness of the painful ongoing injustice.

We hope to post additional media appearances here by Frimet and Arnold Roth in the coming days.  

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

21-Jul-21: After Jordan's king visited the State Department yesterday

From a State Department tweet of yesterday's meeting

Here's an observation the mainstream media probably won't share with their consumers about the very long royal visit to the US currently being undertaken by Jordan's king, queen and crown prince. [For some of the background, "21-Jul-21: In welcoming Jordan's king to Washington, we wanted him to be reminded of the ongoing Tamimi extradition scandal"]

His Majesty King Abdullah II spent some of yesterday in the company of senior figures in the State Department including the Secretary of State and, since we see him in the photos, the current US ambassador to Jordan, Henry Wooster. It was a working visit, with an official agenda and many participants. 

What did they discuss? 

Oddly, at a time when almost everything leaks and gets discussed in the world's public forums - which means on the Internet - it's hard to say

Our principal focus, as everyone coming to this blog knows, is with Jordan's harboring of the bomber who blew up the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem twenty years ago. Jordan has a treaty with the US, and the US has issued criminal proceedings against the bomber who has repeatedly confessed in public that she did it. Fifteen innocents were murdered in the explosion, two of them US nationals, and one of those was our daughter Malki.

Since the day those US charges against Ahlam Ahmad Al-Tamimi were announced in March 2017 right up until today, there has been a deliberate fog of ambiguity and opacity over US efforts to get Jordan to hand her over for trial as required by the 1995 Extradition Treaty. 

The result has been that the boastful killer's spectacular career and freedom have continued practically without pause. She's free today, not living in hiding, not silenced by Jordan's notoriously manipulative government and not on the margins of Jordanian society.

Quite the opposite.

At the end of yesterday's well-publicized meeting between the Jordanian delegation and the State Department people, there was a press briefing, presided over by State's spokesperson, Ned Price

As important as the Tamimi case is, and as much as we have tried to create media and pubic awareness of the open deception by two governments over what is and is not being done to bring Tamimi to her long overdue appointment with a federal court, here is the only official public comment made by the American side. It comes from the official transcript of the State Department Press Briefing (July 20, 2021)
NED PRICE, DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON
JULY 20, 2021
QUESTION: Can I ask you very quickly about Jordan, the meeting with the king this morning and the Secretary? I just want to know if the Tamimi extradition issue came up. As you’re aware, last year the then-ambassador nominee but now the ambassador told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that withholding aid or aid could be used as leverage to secure her extradition to the States to face murder charges.
MR PRICE: Well, I expect we’ll have a readout of the Secretary’s meeting with His Majesty the King later today. When it comes to Ms. al-Tamimi, she is on the FBI’s most wanted list for her role in the 2001 Hamas attack in Jerusalem. We continue to seek her extradition. We’ll continue to work to ensure that she faces justice.
QUESTION: Yeah. Well, did it come up?
MR PRICE: I’m not in a position to speak to the meeting, but we’ll have a readout —
QUESTION: Well, are you – I mean, are you – has this administration yet raised it with – raised the matter with Jordanian authorities, the King or not? Or is this something that would have just come up for the first time today?
MR PRICE: This issue has been raised with our Jordanian partners.
What did the Jordanians say when it was raised? How did the US respond to King Abdullah's response? Does he know about the Tamimi case? Does he know about the 1995 Extradition Treaty proudly signed by his father?

Imagine getting answers like this from your doctor, your lawyer, your spouse, your child, your work colleague. We all have some sense of when we're being treated like idiots. This was one of those moments for us.

The people at Fox News where we were interviewed for two different programs earlier this week turned to State for some comment, too. This is what they got.
A State Department spokesperson told Fox News Friday the department won't preview any diplomatic discussions with the Jordan delegation and won't discuss private correspondence with the Roths. But the State Department said it's committed to bringing Al-Tamimi to the United States for prosecution. 
"Al-Tamimi is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list for her role in a 2001 Hamas terrorist attack in Jerusalem," the State Department told Fox News. "The United States continues to seek her extradition and will continue to work to ensure she faces justice."  

You could understand that the day to day of government decision making is not something that gets discussed very much out on the open. And nor should it.

But the Jordan/Tamimi/extradition case is different. Tamimi was charged on March 14, 2017. Those charges were signed off by a federal judge nearly four years before that, in the summer of 2013, eight full years ago

Jordan's highest court, the Court of Cassation, ruled six days later that - whether she's guilty or not guilty as charged - Jordan will not hand her over to the justice system of the United States as the treaty requires because the treaty is not valid.

The treaty is valid. What's not valid is the claim by Jordan that there is a legal impediment, just one, a very technical one easily fixed. The US says, though in the quietest of voices, that the treaty is valid. Has the US ever raised its voice? Has it threatened? Has it done anything at all to fix this standoff with a kingdom whose existence is underwritten by massive US financial aid and by American military resources?

No one on the US side, not under Obama, not under Trump and till now at least not under Biden, is willing to speak clearly on this. The Jordanians have avoided all comment to people outside their kingdom though Jordanian domestic audiences have been told in Arabic ["13-Nov-19: Thank you, Mr Foreign Minister"] by their deputy prime minister and (his other role) foreign minister that Jordan does not have to hand the bomber over to the Americans. Jordan respects and abides by the law, Mr Ayman H. Safadi said, and the law does not allow it.

He is in the photo above and is in Washington with his king today. How valuable it would be if some enterprising speaking-truth-to-power reporter grabbed the opportunity to ask him to state Jordan's Tamimi policy to an American audience.

Being given the silent treatment isn't a new experience for us in this long pursuit of justice after the murder of our beloved Malki. But our message now to anyone who cares to listen is that it doesn't serve any good purpose and it needs to be stopped. American vagueness on the matter of getting justice done and bringing a committed terrorist to trial for the killing-by-terror of US nationals has serious consequences. 

We have almost no power in standing up to the cruel suppression of our voices by elected and unelected public officials. The only power we do have is to move public opinion and as much as we can, and with the help of others, we will. 

Because what's being done by government figures in this scandal is an ongoing disgrace.

21-Jul-21: In welcoming Jordan's king to Washington, we wanted him to be reminded of the ongoing Tamimi extradition scandal

From the Wall Street Journal website - details in the post
On Monday morning of this week, Jordan's ruler King Abdullah II, began the Washington chapter of his strikingly long current state visit to the US. 

According to the Jordanian media and his own official government press office, it's a journey that began at the start of the month with his departure from the royal palace in Jordan to the Sun Valley Economic Forum [You can see it reported here: "Jordan’s King Abdullah begins journey to US ahead of Sun Valley’s Economic Forum", Arab News, July 2, 2021]. 

And not just there. Reports of King Abdullah heading to the States so he could play an active role in the Idaho forum as he has done in the past were repeated widely in Jordan's Arabic media

Once the forum got underway, the authoritative Jordan Times which is close to the royal palace even disclosed that His Majesty 

"held a number of meetings with the chief executives of major US and international companies in the sectors of communications, information technology, tourism, transportation and insurance, according to a Royal Court statement. The meetings covered investment incentives in Jordan, its strategic location and free trade agreements with several countries, and the potential of tapping into the Kingdom’s qualified human resources."

Meetings? Investment? Chief executives? 

No details and no photos have been published of any of these anywhere as far as we can tell. And we do look. Perhaps it's all due to technical reasons.

But hold on a moment. 

One of the other details the Arab media have failed to share with their consumers is a real show-stopper: this year's Sun Valley Economic Forum in fact did not happen

You read that right. The fact is the forum that the king "attended" and where he held all those "meetings" never happened. It was cancelled - at least according to the organizers who probably know. The forum was discontinued some time ago but there's no sign the Arab media know this. Or that they told their readers and viewers. Or that anyone in Jordan from the king down cares.

But this post is not about the Arab media or the king's spinmeisters.

What it actually is about is how, coinciding with King Abdullah's arrival in the US capital, we wrote an op ed and we are proud that it was published in the same morning's Wall Street Journal Opinion section. It appears there now under the heading "Jordan Harbors Our Daughter’s Killer | Biden should demand the extradition of Ahlam Tamimi.

It also appeared online which means for a change that our views got some very welcome American attention.

In case you're not aware - and very unlike the journalism in certain Middle East countries - the WSJ's editors have a reputation for being firm and tough on opinion writers. But also thorough and careful, often asking for documentary proof of what's claimed, for detail of the background and for drastic brevity.

That's not a complaint. It simply explains that they work hard there to produce a readable high-quality product. We feel honored to have the privilege of addressing their global readership.

As happens often, our op-ed started out longer than the version that was published. We're obviously more relaxed here on our own blog about the number of words it takes us to communicate our message. So here below is a fuller version of the op ed that the Wall Street Journal published.

Biden can show dignity and decency by pressuring Jordan’s Abdullah

Tell the king to extradite our daughter’s murderer.

Frimet and Arnold Roth

Jordan’s King Abdullah II will visit the White House on Monday. We are urging President Biden to ask the visitor why our daughter’s murderer is safeguarded by his kingdom. And to press for her extradition to Washington.

Ahlam Tamimi is an FBI Most Wanted Terrorist charged with participating in a 2001 bombing that killed 15 people, including our daughter Malki, 15, and a second U.S. national. Tamimi, an unabashed advocate for terrorist attacks on Israelis, is living free in Jordan despite the kingdom’s extradition treaty with the United States.

Malki and her best friend Michal, 16, were en route to a planning meet for their youth group’s summer camp when they stopped for lunch at a Sbarro pizzeria in central Jerusalem. They were happily texting at the counter when a Hamas bomber, dressed like a tourist but with an explosive-and-shrapnel-filled guitar case slung over his shoulder, entered. Tamimi, the first female admitted to the terrorist ranks of Hamas, selected the site for the large number of children it attracted. She fled the scene minutes before he exploded.

Tamimi, arrested some weeks later, confessed in court to all the charges and in 2003 was sentenced to 16 life terms. But in 2011, she was among 1,027 convicted terrorists exchanged by Israel for an IDF soldier held hostage for five years by Hamas. We watched, stunned, as Tamimi arrived in Jordan, greeted with wildly celebratory receptions at Amman’s airport, in a court-house of Jordan’s legal system, at the kingdom’s most important university and in Jordan’s trade union headquarters. There followed a torrent of exultant media interviews. Tamimi emphasized her utter lack of regret.

Jordan notably restricts its media and closely monitors speech but has allowed social media and television to amplify her fame. For five years she hosted a made-in-Jordan global TV show promoting terror. She has made frequent appearances at public events and on Jordanian commercial TV. The students of the Arab world’s premier graduate school of journalism named her their “success model”. Just last month, she became a weekly columnist for a prominent pan-Arab news-site.

Weeks after Israel released her, we asked the Department of Justice in Washington to prosecute her. We pointed to two elements: a federal law that criminalizes acts of terror outside U.S. territory that result in American deaths, and Jordan’s extradition treaty with the U.S. A year later, in 2013, terror charges were issued but only made public in 2017 via a Justice Department announcement.

Jordan’s government moved quickly. Six days after the unsealing of those charges, and without a single public word from any Jordanian leader, the kingdom’s highest court ruled the 1995 Jordan/US extradition treaty invalid. The U.S. rejects that ruling and still considers it a Treaty in Force.

In a 2020 FOIA lawsuit, we obtained documentary evidence that undermines Jordan’s argument and its basis for shielding Tamimi. Now we want President Biden to explain to America’s Jordanian ally that the U.S. will not abide a treaty partner violating its obligations.

Widely seen as moderate and reasonable, King Abdullah II has never commented publicly on Tamimi’s freedom, fame or depravity. We find this appalling.

It’s said the prospect of Tamimi in chains being put on a Washington-bound flight worries the king because this could upset his country’s fraught political balance – and her Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Does that mean Jordan, massively dependent on US aid and support in multiple ways, can walk away from its bilateral obligations scot-free? Do the mass-murderer’s followers have that kind of sway?

We don’t presume to remind President Biden of the leverage in his hands. But the fact is Congress imposed powerful sanctions in 2019 and again in 2020, clearly aimed at Jordan and its treaty default - and which the Trump administration failed to enforce. We know that milder sanctions have been suggested but also never implemented.

No less disturbing to us than Jordan’s recalcitrance is the de facto acceptance it appears to have gotten from the two most recent administrations. In all the years of our pursuing justice, no one has said anything explicit to us or, publicly at least, to the Jordanians about Tamimi. Our questions have been deflected and not always elegantly. We only too familiar with getting the silent treatment.

We hope President Biden — a grieving parent himself — can reverse that pattern. He has pledged to write “an American story of decency and dignity.” Is any dignity greater than the one that comes from doing justice? Where’s decency when an ally demeans an established treaty to appease popular bigotry of the most murderous kind?

Allies shouldn’t have to be arm-twisted into compliance with bilateral obligations. Tamimi, who has never denied her role in orchestrating the massacre that stole our child’s life, should be tried in Washington on the pending charges.

Any other outcome, any further delay, empowers and encourages the dark and dangerous forces at work in this complex region.

--- 

Frimet and Arnold Roth live in Jerusalem. With friends they established a non-sectarian charity, The Malki Foundation, in 2001 to support families raising a child with extreme special needs.
The royal visit to Washington continues with a string of high-level meetings today in the Congress after the warm personal reception extended by President Biden, by Secretary of State Blinken, by Vice President Harris and by the strangely quiescent White House Press Corps which could have asked - but strikingly did not - some important questions during question time on Monday. 

The editors at Mediaite, noticing this, gave them a backhanded acknowledgment in the Tuesday edition of their widely-watched Media Winners & Losers page:

MEDIA LOSER:

White House Press Corps

The White House press corps had multiple opportunities on Monday to ask President Joe Biden if he would raise the issue of a terrorist wanted by the United States that Jordan is harboring.

Ahead of Jordanian King Abdullah II’s meeting on Monday at the White House, the press failed to ask Biden, following his remarks about the current state of the economy, about Ahlam Tamimi, who was behind the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem that killed 15 civilians, including two Americans, and injured approximately 122 others, including four Americans.

Tamimi was serving 16 life sentences in Israel when she was released as part of a deal Israel made with Hamas in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Now living in Jordan, Tamimi is treated like a celebrity.

The White House press corps failed to even ask White House press secretary Jen Psaki ahead of the meeting whether Biden would press the king to extradite Tamimi, whose indictment by the United States was unsealed in 2017.

No one even shouted a question following-up about Tamimi.

Again, it's important for the press to hold those with power to account.
Thanks, ladies and gentlemen of Mediaite. We certainly agree.

Friday, July 09, 2021

09-Jul-21: The desecration of law, of morality, of fundamental decency: An open letter to a king

Issued in March 2017, the Department of Justice wanted posters
in English and Arabic have never appeared – other than
online – in any public place in Jordan.
A version of the following article written by Frimet and Arnold Roth was published as a Featured Post on the Times of Israel's op-ed platform a week ago under the title King Abdullah, when will Jordan hand our child’s murderer over to US justice? 

It's intended as an open letter addressed to the Jordanian monarch. 

*  *  *

Nothing in life prepared us, Your Majesty, for the murder of our daughter Malki.

Just 15 years old, she was a delightful child with a vivacious personality, a skilled musician with a passion for helping children with disabilities. Losing her and fighting to see her killer — a woman harbored by Jordan since 2011— brought to justice are the defining challenges of our lives.

Shakespeare is the source for an insight to which we assume you can relate: "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown" he has a character, a monarch like you, say in Henry IV Part I.  And while we have no special desire to add to your unease, we do feel justified in addressing you on a serious matter, one that comes with heaviness and consequence - though it's summer. 

For you personally, Your Majesty, as we have noticed, summer means vacation time and traveling to the US. You have done it almost every year as long as we have been following your public statements and your travels. 

You're there now, having arrived a week ago and you will stay there until July 22. Along the way, you are going to be a guest in President Biden's Oval Office on July 19. And you have a long list of meetings where you will be addressing numerous committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

For us, the past two decades of summers, as much as we would want them to be different, have ceased to be a time of recreation and switching off. Losing a dearly loved child's life to a vicious act of explosive hatred can do that to people.

But it's emphatically not sympathy we seek in addressing these words to you, sir. We are addressing you via this open letter in order to urge you to take the necessary steps so that our child's killer finally faces US justice. These are actions that you and you alone can take.

*  *  *

After completing 10th grade, Malki spent part of her summer vacation volunteering at a camp for children with severe disabilities. She returned home beaming from the pleasure of making a difference in the lives of others. A few days later, she and her closest friend stood together at the counter of a bustling Sbarro pizzeria — two sweet girls chatting and texting. Nobody took notice when a young musician, a guitar case slung across his back, entered and stood beside them

He wasn’t a musician. 

And it wasn’t a guitar. 

When he squeezed the button on his chest, the shuddering blast reverberated throughout Jerusalem. The satanic terrorists of Hamas, adroit at exploiting the twisted mentality of young religious zealots, put him to this hideous work. 

A young Jordanian woman, a journalism student of 21, guided him to the scene. She later boasted of having scouted Jerusalem for child-rich targets and realized Sbarro was ideal. Her name is Ahlam Ahmad al-Tamimi. She appears to have hesitation in calling the massacre “my operation”.

Tamimi fled the scene after depositing her human bomb and was in a taxi on her way back to Ramallah when the car radio broke the news of the atrocity. Tamimi was elated. We know this because she said so. On video. Grinning.

Among the 15 dead, including eight children and 130 wounded, Tamimi obliterated the lives of three female American nationals. 
  • One was a young Jewish tourist from New Jersey, her parents’ only child, recently married and pregnant for the first time. 
  • The second was our Malki. 
  • Then there was Chana, a young mother grabbing lunch with her toddler daughter. The little girl was uninjured, but Chana, grievously wounded, remains in a vegetative state today — 20 years later — not counted in the death toll. Imagine explaining to her family how that works.
It is the murder of the Americans that caused the US to bring criminal charges against Tamimi and seek to put her on trial ["14-Mar-17: Sbarro massacre mastermind is now formally charged and her extradition is requested."] And it is your government that stands in the way.

*  *  *

Photographed at a friend's birthday celebration on August 8, 2001,
this is the last photo to have been taken of our Malki.
She was murdered the next day.
Since 2011, Tamimi has lived free in Amman. As you and your advisers know, she is a celebrity to Jordanians, an icon of resistance and vengeance. Jordan’s best and brightest journalism students at a graduate school for media studies under royal auspices actually declared her their “success model”. The main details are here: “By their role models shall ye know them,” [The Times of Israel, December 10, 2014].

The horror she executed that day earned her a prestigious role hosting a weekly TV show broadcast globally from Jordan for five years. And — there’s no way to miss this point — your government, which notoriously exercises tight control over broadcast media (“hampered by restrictive laws and government pressure” according to Freedom House’s latest assessment), let her do it.

How did Tamimi get back home to Jordan?

In 2003, after making a full confession, she was convicted by an Israeli court and sentenced to 16 consecutive terms of life imprisonment. Eight years later, under the leadership of an Israeli prime minister whose international reputation was made by authoring a best seller about why deals must never be done with terrorists, Israel did a deal with the terrorists Hamas. It freed Tamimi in the extortionate transaction. She was one of 1,027 convicted Arab terrorists, most of them killers, exchanged for a sole Israeli hostage. 

Jordan, as we are certain you remember, welcomed Tamimi as a returning hero.

On March 14, 2017, the US Department of Justice unsealed terrorism charges and designated Tamimi an FBI Most Wanted Terrorist. The US prosecutors had kept the charges secret for four years as efforts were made by private diplomacy to convince your government to turn her over. The announcement brought us hope that long-thwarted justice was about to be done.

Our hope was misplaced.

Just six days later, Jordan’s Court of Cassation, the appointment and dismissal of whose judges require your approval, declared the extradition treaty, bearing the personal, signed endorsements of your revered late father King Hussein and President Bill Clinton, unenforceable. The court ruled it lacked parliamentary approval — a purported defect that obviously could have, but never has, been corrected.

(Just a week ago we wrote in another place of discoveries we made earlier this year when we sued the government of the United States under its Freedom of Information Act. We have another article explaining this. But it is not quite ready for publication. In the meantime, in case you want to know what we found - and we see it as stunningly important - see "Will Joe Biden Grant My Daughter Justice?" on the Sub-Stack site of the former New York Times columnist and distinguished writer and public intellectual Bari Weiss.)

In the years that followed, we fought to create awareness of (forgive our blunt language - we're enraged) Tamimi’s obscene freedom and of the appalling support Jordanians give her. 

We have gotten pushback we never expected, warning that your kingdom, a key US strategic ally and third largest recipient of US aid, would fall and chaos ensue, if this lightning rod for terrorist sentiment is extradited to Washington.

Shockingly, your multiple ceremonious visits to Washington as guest of the Obama and Trump administrations produced not a single official utterance about the ongoing travesty of justice.

How to explain this desecration of law, of morality, of fundamental decency? Is your rule truly that precarious? Is Jordanian society so infused with hatred of Jews that, with the connivance of the international media, you have no choice but to let it go on? 

What meaning does leadership have if, as monarch, you are hostage to the most bigoted elements of Jordanian society? What future does Jordan have if its leadership nurtures the dysfunctional mindset by which handing an admitted murderer of Americans to American justice is the real outrage?

It remains in your hands, King Abdullah. You can end this. Turn your current visit to the United States and to Washington as the moment when you declare Jordan is going to do whatever necessary to immediately effectuate the 1995 treaty; to honor the US request to extradite Tamimi; to see justice finally done.

Unforgivably overdue by years, this would be a step towards healing a festering wound in the strategic relations between Jordan and the US and, no less important, eating away at Jordanian society itself.



Frimet and Arnold Roth jointly wrote the above, as well as their blog, This Ongoing War, that since 2006 has documented their efforts to see justice done in the matter of their daughter’s murder.