Tuesday, July 12, 2022

12-Jul-22: No political dimension: Our letter to President Biden and his answer

Another AP story from a year ago [Image Source]

Associated Press began reporting last night (Monday) that the White House has already responded to the letter we emailed to President Joseph Biden on Sunday [we described that here: "11-Jul-22: President Biden is heading to Jerusalem and we're asking for a few minutes of his time"]. 

They say:

The U.S. said Monday it is still seeking the extradition of a Palestinian woman in Jordan convicted of aiding a suicide bomber in Jerusalem in 2001. But it declined to comment on a request from the family of one of the victims for a meeting with President Joe Biden... The Roths have been waging a campaign for the extradition of Tamimi since she was released by Israel in a 2011 prisoner swap with the Hamas militant group and sent to her native Jordan, where she lives freely and has been a familiar face in the media... ["US seeks extradition of Palestinian attacker in Jordan", AP, July 11, 2022]

The AP report goes on to quote a high-level source that

“The U.S. government continues to seek her extradition and the Government of Jordan’s assistance in bringing her to justice for her role in the heinous attack,” the National Security Council said Monday.

Continuing to seek her extradition. It's a term that needs some context. And we're happy to provide it. 

The US has never made a single public call on Jordan to extradite Tamimi, beyond the formal request (under a 1995 extradition  treaty which is valid and in force) in 2017. 

It has also never publicly criticized Jordan for breaching the treaty. This despite the reality that Tamimi has lived free in Jordan since October 2011, traveling freely from Jordan throughout the Arab world to address rallies and make blood-curdling pro-terror speeches, while being the presenter of her own made-in-Jordan weekly TV program devoted to terror, terrorists and the need to support both. 

We're genuinely glad to be told that the US is continuing to pursue extradition. But after so many years of zero progress, is it not time to ask what those efforts are? And why they don't succeed? Jordan, after all, is a small but strategic ally, massively dependent on US largesse, the beneficiary of a whole raft of made-in-USA special facilities, programs and strategically helpful attention.

It's fair to say we are disappointed by the non-response. 

And allow us to be clear about this aspect: no one has been in touch with us from the President's staff, the State Department, the National Security Council or the US Embassy in Israel.

Jordan's royals and the Bidens - July 2021

But here's the point. Throughout the years of our immensely frustrating campaign to see the government of the United States respect and defend its own laws, criminal code and treaties in relation to the Tamimi case, poor - even absent - communication from US government officials has been an almost invariable constant.

The Tamimi case has special significance to us. 

That's in large part because the Jordanian fugitive planted the human bomb at the Jerusalem pizzeria in August 2001 whose explosive malevolence erased sixteen lives, one of whom was the life of our beloved fifteen year old daughter Malki. Another American woman, a tourist visiting from New Jersey, was murdered along with the unborn child in her womb. And another American woman was rendered so profoundly brain-damaged that she has remained in a comatose state from that summer 2001 afternoon until today.

Now that the Biden team have explicitly blocked our efforts to press the case, we feel justified in sharing the letter we sent him to which no answer will ever come. 

Here it is.

July 10, 2022

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500-0005 

Dear President Biden,

Extraditing our child’s killer from Jordan

As you arrive in Jerusalem, we write to remind you of the open letter we addressed to you in the pages of the Wall Street Journal last summer. It appeared on the day you hosted Jordan’s monarch in the Oval Office of the White House: [“Jordan Harbors Our Daughter’s Killer | Biden should demand the extradition of Ahlam Tamimi”, Frimet and Arnold Roth, Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2021]. 

It was distressing to us that you did not respond in any way, not via the White House press spokesperson; not via any members of your staff; not in the months that followed; not even when you hosted the same king in the same Oval Office this past May.

Our letter then, and the thoughts we share with you below, have no political dimension to them. And in sharp contrast to the letter from the family of an Aljazeera reporter shot and killed as she stood in the midst of a firefight between Palestinian Arab gunmen and Israeli forces in Jenin, it’s not necessary for us to assert again and again – as they do about their case – what we believe to be the cause of the death for which we seek accountability. It’s tragically clear.

Our daughter Malki, a sweet American girl who never reached her sixteenth birthday, was murdered by a Jordanian reporter called Ahlam Tamimi. In contrast to the Shireen Abu Akleh case, no committees of enquiry, not the United Nations or the New York Times or the Washington Post or CNN or the Associated Press or B’Tselem or even the White House spokesperson are needed to lay the blame.

A massacre happened at a pizzeria in the heart of Jerusalem on a hot summer vacation day when it was filled with children. Tamimi, again and again, on television, via YouTube and in live appearances, has said she did it. She calls it “my operation”. She brags about what she did. In a viral interview, she said “I admit that I was a bit disappointed, because I had hoped for a larger toll.” 

Last October in a video conference to Turkish schoolgirls and young women [source] she called the bombing “a crown on my head. By the grace of Allah, I joined the annals of history by committing the best act, the best operation, the best path - the path of Jihad.

Tamimi has never expressed a syllable of regret beyond saying of the children she targeted that she wishes more had been killed that day.

She has been an FBI Most Wanted terrorist since March 14, 2017, the day that long-sealed US federal terror charges were finally made public. And in all the time that has passed, she has lived free as a bird in Jordan. She is still there, shielded by Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

In the 5+ years since the charges were made public, the two of us have reached out to a depressingly long list of officials and lawmakers seeking to bring an end to the cruel game being played at our expense. It involves serious people with extraordinary power and influence telling us (those who bother to respond at all since most prefer to look away or pretend not to hear) that the US “continues to seek her extradition and will continue to work to ensure she faces justice” [source].

Years of this.

Jordan, to say it clearly, is not a free or liberal place. Its media are among the mostly tightly restricted of any country and its governments are assiduous in executing the will of King Abdullah. Yet for five years, Tamimi had her own terror-advocating TV show, made in Jordan and distributed from there to Arabic-speaking audiences throughout the world. The ruler whom you so admire, whom you praised lavishly last summer [“Biden calls Jordan king a loyal ally in ‘tough neighborhood’”, The Associated Press, July 20, 2021] must have approved it. On any view, he certainly did nothing to shut it down.

Five years, sir.

Something is obviously terribly wrong with how the pursuit of America’s most wanted female fugitive is going. If it’s accountability for her crimes that we speak – and accountability is what your press spokesperson has invoked over and again these past few weeks in the Aljazeera reporter’s case – then it’s worth asking whether five years is enough time to have achieved that.

Nothing in our handful of encounters with senior figures in your State Department and that of President Trump has given us even the smallest hope that the US wants this woman in chains, on a flight from Amman and extradited to a DC courthouse.

The opposite is true. When politicians and their bureaucrats want to justify their action or inaction, they rarely lack the words. But in our case, most by far of our approaches to Washington insiders have been answered with silence. We want to think it stems from shame and embarrassment but that’s speculative on our part. What is abundantly clear is that getting justice for the small handful of American lives, all of them Jewish, extinguished among a much larger number of Tamimi’s victims, is – in the cold calculus of today’s Washington – evidently not worth the political irritation it will cause.

We want to explain this to you better in a face-to-face meeting. We want you to look us in the eyes, Mr. President, and tell us how Jordan’s king can be a praiseworthy ally even as he cynically tramples –on narrow technical grounds that it turns out don’t hold water – a treaty made by President Clinton and King Hussein, his greatly admired father.

That treaty has for a quarter century been the essential tool that enabled US law enforcement to apprehend a string of Jordanian terrorists and bring them to trial and eventually prison in the US. It’s a valuable part of America’s constant, essential vigilance against the dark forces of jihad. There’s a much larger issue than simply justice for the life of an American child at stake when an ally – one who benefits from billions of dollars in US taxpayer funded aid each year – trashes a bilateral agreement at will.

In your Washington Post opinion piece on Saturday [“Joe Biden: Why I’m going to Saudi Arabia”, Washington Post., July 9, 2022] you mentioned King Abdullah of Jordan recently referring to the “new vibe” in the region with countries asking “How can we connect with each other and work with each other.” The answer in Jordan’s case is clear. It can honor the unquestionably valid treaty and extradite Tamimi.

We’re approaching the fiftieth yahrzeit of Abraham Joshua Heschel, a luminary in the world of Jewish thought and a prominent figure in America’s struggle for human rights who passed away in 1972. Rabbi Heschel observed that "...morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

We are bereaved parents as you are, sir. We have a burning sense that injustice in the wake of our child’s murder is winning. Years of experience tell us this is so. We ask that you address this as only the leader of the United States can and take the steps that will bring the Sbarro bomber to long-thwarted justice in Washington.

Frimet and Arnold Roth

You will have our sincere appreciation if you share this widely.  

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