Malki Roth is perhaps a name you’re sick of hearing, a stale story, an old story, the story of the Jewish girl who got blown up while eating pizza a LONG time ago. Even as you feel perhaps a pinch of guilt at your indifference, you say to yourself that it’s Israel’s fault in the first place that the woman who helped murder 15-year-old Malki is free. This also makes the subject of Malki Roth a subject that some people just don’t want to touch.
Justice for Malki Roth should be—needs to be—a national, Jewish cause. No one should have to work hard to get the world to care about this. Instead, it’s like pulling teeth.
I have written about Malki Roth and interviewed her father Arnold several times. Each time a column comes out, the number of viewers progressively dwindles. It is as if the Jewish world collectively says, “It was cool to read about this the first time around, but nu?? Write about something else, already.”
Two weeks ago I wrote something new about Malki Roth, or so I thought. I had been struck by the way the State Department focused on the Abu Akleh thing while completely ignoring the Roth family’s letter to President Biden, requesting a meeting with him during his visit to Israel. Both Abu Akleh and Malki Roth were American citizens, but only one of them was a Jew.
It was, I thought, a new perspective on the subject of Malki Roth. Something to share around, to help raise awareness of the issue. Yet when I sent the link to a colleague, he responded, “please [sic] don’t send me these news items since I know about it.”
Note that this is a man who contacted me out of the blue a few months ago. I knew his work and it was impressive. I was flattered. He had, he said, read a certain piece of mine, and liked it. Did I consider sending it to this or that publication? Also, his daughter is a musician who lives on a settlement. I would like her, did I want her number? Could I share his piece?
I did what I could to promote his piece, and he continued to send me his stuff, so I began to send him mine. Perhaps I was wrong to send him my work without seeking his consent. But this happens to be how it’s done. It’s called “networking.”
After that last email, I would have just written him off as a jerk. But it was a piece about Malki Roth, an important cause for me—as it should be for him! Even if he doesn’t have time to read it, it’s something to share with others to help raise awareness of a major Jewish cause. Instead, what bothered him was unwanted email/spam, though he’d only recently asked for my help, which I had freely given.
I have concluded that the issue began when he saw the name “Malki Roth” in the subject line. To him this is old stuff. It’s diplomatically touchy: Why should we expect Jordan to extradite a terrorist who killed Israeli Jews, when Israel itself released her to her freedom? And why should anyone expect the United States to do more to seek justice for a Jewish Israeli—even one with dual US citizenship—than Israel itself?
There’s some logic to this. Also, it is possible that Israel doesn’t want Jordan to extradite the Sbarro terrorist Ahlam Tamimi–the beast who helped to murder Malki Roth We can’t know what goes on behind closed doors. I asked Arnold Roth about this. Who is correct in this matter? Should the US stay out of it? Should Jordan be left alone? Is Israel getting in the way of justice?
Arnold was matter of fact. “Legally, there’s no case for Jordan. Tamimi is charged under US law for a crime that involved the deliberate and exceptionally cold-blooded killing of children. It was the children that drew her to Sbarro.
“But what about politics?” asks Roth.
“Jordan is a young kingdom, ruled by a family with dynastic ambitions but whose roots are in what we today call Saudi Arabia,” explains Roth. “The vast majority of Jordan’s population is made up of people who call themselves Palestinians. And there’s said to be a consensus that even if he wanted to, King Abdullah would endanger his kingdom and perhaps his life if he were to hand over this heroic figure, the killer of “Zionist rapists,” (an expression often used in Jordan’s media in connection with victims of the Sbarro massacre) to the Americans. So we all ought to understand that this is something that he, Abdullah, just can’t be expected to do,” says Roth, with sarcasm.
“There’s a lot that’s wrong with that way of looking at this. But,” says Roth, “it gets worse.”
“Israel is quietly said to be interested in avoiding any steps that would put King Abdullah’s rule and the stability of his kingdom at risk. And to have said this to the Americans.”
So, okay. We get it. Israel doesn’t want the US to press the extradition issue. But that doesn’t make it okay for Jordan or the United States to turn a blind eye to a child murderer on the loose. Also: Israel will do what Israel will do, but the Jewish people? We can be as loud as we want in seeking justice for a 15 year old girl whose blood cries out from the ground!
The same was true of the Jonathan Pollard issue. Some said it was Israel that didn’t want him freed. They said he took money, he was no saint. But in the end we were loud enough, and they let Pollard go. We, as a people, fought for him and won. And now we must fight for Malki Roth who is no longer here to plead her case.
People need to hear this story. They need to know how nations have colluded to protect Tamimi, an evil being who openly delights in having helped to spill the blood of Jewish children. Her aim was to kill Jews, and specifically Jewish children, which makes this most decidedly a national problem.
What we need to do is get loud and make Malki Roth a household name. No matter what anyone says there is no reason we shouldn’t press for the extradition of Ahlam Tamimi and no good reason not to adopt justice for Malki Roth as a national Jewish cause.