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
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.
“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.”
As seen on news-stands acrossAustralia this week
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