Living with injustice

The Hebrew month of Av, is the saddest in the Jewish calendar. It is the extended time when we mourn the destruction of our 2 temples, the 15th century expulsion of Jews from Christian Spain, and grieve over the Great Deportation, when the Nazis sent nearly quarter of a million Warsaw Jews on trains to be gassed in Treblinka. 

For Arnold and Frimet Roth, the month of Av is an especially heavy time of mourning, because it was on the 20th of Av twenty years ago (a month before the attack on the Twin Towers in NY), that their 15-year old daughter Malki was murdered in a bomb blast in a Jerusalem pizzeria. It was one of the worst acts of Palestinian terror of the 21st century. Malki was not the only victim. The heinous attack ravished the lives of 14 more people, including 7 children, and injured 130 others. Tragically, Chana Nachenberg, a US national, is still in hospital today in a vegetative state. 

Unfathomable is not just the murder, but the fact that the key mastermind of the attack, Ahlam Tamimi, is living as a free woman in Jordan, a country who is an ally of Europe and the United States. To add insult to injury, Jordan has consistently refused to hand her over for extradition to stand trial.

It is not just Jordanian apathy. The terrorist has been afforded prime time TV in her new land where she gloats about her deeds and is only regretful that more people weren’t killed. 

But she wasn’t always free. Tamimi was arrested, tried and sentenced, shortly after the attack. She confessed in court to all the charges and was sentenced to 16 life terms. 10 years after she spent her first night behind bars, she was released as one of the 1,027 convicted terrorists exchanged for the sole Israeli solder Gilad Schalit, who had been kidnapped by Hamas. 

Ever since her release, Arnold and Frimet Roth have fought tirelessly for justice. Frimet is an American national. Imploring Jordan and the United States, the mission of her and her husband is to get Tamimi tried in America. It is also to speak for those no longer here, or those so damaged by the attack that they are able to speak for themselves. 

Although Tamimi still remains free, their efforts are not without results. Through sheer grit and long nights and days in front of the computer, for the last 20 years they have tried to bring the injustice to the attention of governments and international media. With the media they are experiencing a measured success, measured because the media thrives on new stories. Keeping this injustice on the boil is a miracle within itself, but thats what they have managed to do this month, prior to the Jordanian king’s upcoming visit to the White House in August 2021.

It is time for this outrage to end and for America to demand that King Abdullah hand over Tamimi to stand trial for her crimes. Arnold and Frimet, and all the victims of the Sbarro Massacre, deserve no less.