The editors of the New York Times Magazine chose two weeks ago to publish a partisan, tendentious and extraordinarily selective piece of advocacy journalism about the village of Nabi Saleh. Located a few kilometers north of our home in Jerusalem, it’s a place that holds significance for us since almost all the residents have the same surname: Tamimi.
One of the Tamimis is the person who engineered the massacre of women and children in which our much-loved child Malki was murdered at the age of fifteen in August 2001 at Jerusalem’s Sbarro restaurant.
We published a response to that article on our blog. It evoked a response beyond anything else we have written before: many thousands of views here on our blog, and thousands more on several other magazines and blogs that cross-posted it on their sites.
The editors of the New York Times did not respond to it. Nor did they react to a letter that Frimet submitted to them ten days ago. Tomorrow’s New York Times Magazine is now online, and with it the letters (3 of them) that the editors have chosen to publish. We assume they received many more. We’re confident none would have spoken in the voice of a mother whose child was brutally killed by a woman from the village whose promoters revel in the use of the bogus descriptor “non-violent“. It’s the alleged non-violence of the village and its people that underpins the article’s premise.
Here below is the letter Frimet submitted – and that was rejected at the New York Times. Please consider passing it along to your friends, particularly those friends who read the Times and fall victim to its highly selective presentation – over many years – of the realities of the conflict between the Arabs and Israel.
Jerusalem March 20, 2013 The Editors, NY Times
Ben Ehrenreich’s article [“Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start?”] is a brazen quest for confirmation of his preconceptions about the Palestinian Israeli conflict: politics blended with fantasy and embellished with every tear-jerking cliche in the book. Smiling, frolicking children; poetic “activists”; generous hostesses plying their delicacies at every turn. It is a bucolic scene that is frequently painted in anti-Israel publications. But how does the NY Times publish a piece that plays so fast and loose with fact and history?
Sadly, I am well-equipped to offer some corrections and details omitted by Ehrenreich.
Ahlam Tamimi, the villager whom Ehrenreich described as a woman who “escorted a suicide bomber“, is in fact the self-confessed engineer and planner of a bloody terrorist attack. By her own account and after several scouting forays, Tamimi selected a target: the Sbarro restaurant in the heart of Jerusalem, on a hot August afternoon in 2001.
Tamimi has said she chose it because she knew it would be teeming at the appointed hour with women and children. She transported the bomb, enhanced with nails and bolts to maximize the carnage, from Ramallah across the Qalandia security checkpoint and into Israel’s capital. Israeli soldiers still waived females through without inspection in those days.
Tamimi and her weapon, the bomber, both dressed in Western garb and chatting in English to appear as tourists, strolled through the city center. At the entrance to Sbarro, she briefed him on where and when to detonate, instructing that he wait 15 minutes to allow her a safe getaway. Fifteen men, women and children were murdered that afternoon. My teenage daughter Malki was among them. Ehrenreich, who writes warmly about Nabi Saleh’s children, displays a cold detachment when relating to the bombing’s victims, the youngest of whom was two years old: “Fifteen people were killed, eight of them minors.”
Tamimi, on the other hand, has focused hard on the children. Filmed in an Israeli prison, she smiled broadly when an interviewer informed her that 8 children were murdered, and not merely the 3 she had known about. Since her release in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal, Tamimi has repeatedly and publicly boasted of her deed, adding: “I have no regrets. I would do it again.”
Tamimi has always lived in Amman, other than two years in Nabi Saleh while attending university. Israel ‘exiled’ (to adopt Ehrenreich’s term) her to Jordan where her father and brothers reside. Since her release she married another Tamimi, also a convicted murderer freed in the Shalit deal. He too is a home-town hero in Nabi Saleh. The host of her own weekly show on Hamas TV, she travels freely throughout the Arab world to address her many fans, accepting accolades and trophies while urging others to follow in her footsteps.
For a mother to bury her loving, gentle child is torture. To watch the murderer walk triumphantly free and enjoy life rubs salt into that wound every day. But to see the NY Times gloss over this travesty of justice with a cover story that showcases this woman’s many admirers in Nabi Saleh – that is journalism of the most amoral sort. You ought to be ashamed of it.
Frimet Roth – Jerusalem
Visit This Ongoing War.
About the Author: Frimet and Arnold Roth began writing and speaking publicly soon after the murder of their fifteen year-old daughter Malki Z"L in the Jerusalem Sbarro massacre, August 9, 2001 (Chaf Av, 5761). They have both been, and are, frequently interviewed for radio, television and the print media, including CNN, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Al-Jazeera, and others. Their blog This Ongoing War deals with the under-appreciated price of living in a society afflicted by terrorism which, they contend, means the entire world. Frimet is a native of Queens, NY while her husband was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. They brought their family to settle in Jerusalem in 1988. They co-founded the Malki Foundation in 2001 and are deeply involved in its work as volunteers. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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