Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Forgetting justice: On Jordan and my child's killer

September 15, 2021 in a NYC hotel: Jordan's king hosts some of America's
most prominent Jewish leaders in an off-the-record gathering - again [Image Source]
It is hard to select only one major recent headline that dovetailed with our ongoing pursuit of justice for our child, Malki. 

Specifically, we seek the extradition from Jordan of the confessed female bomber charged by the US Department of Justice as the terrorist behind the massacre. 

There have been just so many. While I was consumed with recent holiday cooking, doting on grandchildren and coping with the challenges of my daughter Haya, those incredible news breaks just piled up.

First came the annual "King-Worship Gala". This is when the presidents of major US Jewish organizations are invited to an event centering on a speech by King Abdullah II of Jordan in a New York City hotel banquet room. And which they never fail to attend. As is traditional in these encounters, the sycophantic participants were instructed by the host and the officials who run his Washington embassy to hold secret every word uttered at the event. And to keep the event itself confidential.

They dictate that the meeting is "off the record" but that's a royal euphemism. This year's gathering, held as usual during September in the week of the annual United Nations General Assembly opening, was promptly reported via a Royal Jordanian media release.

And reported in a very specific way. The Jordanian media promptly publicized his version of the conversations illustrated with photos of those leaders assiduously scribbling notes of his precious words.

The Jewish attendees, as always, were obedient guests, divulging (as my husband and know from experience) nothing. Not even a public acknowledgement of having been there. A sorry bunch of self deluding king worshippers they are.

Second, there was the extradition to the US of a terrorist from Syria - a Saudi-born Canadian citizen, Mohammed Khalifa. Now in FBI custody, he is charged with supplying material terrorism support via his English voice-overs of ISIS films and of being a combatant.

Meanwhile Ahlam Tamimi, self-confessed brutal mass-murderer of patrons in a bustling eatery - some of them Americans including our Malki - enjoys a life of celebrity and freedom. 

Tamimi's crimes undoubtedly eclipse those of Khalifa. She orchestrated the horrific terror bombing of Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria in 2001 by scouting for and then selecting that family-friendly site, transporting the 10 kg bomb, escorting her accomplice across the city to the entrance of the restaurant and instructing him on how and when to detonate the nail-enhanced device. Khalifa, on the other hand, worked for the media unit that publicized and exploited the killings of hostages.

When will the relevant authorities see to it that our child's murderer follow the same route as Mohammed Khalifa and stand trial as well?

The US State Department has acknowledged - but barely and very quietly - Jordan's refusal to extradite Tamimi in breach of a 1995 treaty that State itself says is valid. Senior officials assured us this past week - and as emphatically as always - that the unresolved extradition of Tamimi from her homeland, Jordan, remains as it has been for years a top priority.

When a matter enjoys that status for a decade with no progress whatever, it is clear either that the claim is bunk or that the "top priority" label just won't cut it.

Yesterday, in the week of the tenth anniversary of her release from Israeli prison in the lopsided Shalit Deal, an Arabic-language Facebook article showed a woman who looks somewhat like Tamimi being a guest of honor at a Jordanian girls school. The text that accompanies it mentions both Tamimi explicitly and the Shalit Deal in an adulatory way.  [I am checking whether it was Tamimi herself who appeared and spoke and will update here when I have a clearer picture.]

Last, but not at all least, was the gift that keeps giving: the headline that remains on center stage even a fortnight after the story broke. The Pandora Papers look primed to harm numerous leaders and celebrities but every article covering them highlights King Abdullah's shenanigans. 

"Jordan’s King Among Leaders Accused of Amassing Secret Property Empire" began the New York Times Pandora piece of October 3, 2021, before launching an account of luxury homes in Malibu, London and Washington.

It was inexpressibly satisfying to read that the darling of the American right and left, of Democrats and Republicans, of conservatives and progressives, of American and Israeli politicians, of liberal and religious Jews was, in fact, just another thief, albeit with a British accent.
The question now dogging Arnold and me is this: Will the dictator's embezzlement of his poor constituents' cash tarnish his stellar image? To put numbers on that, within 3 months of the pandemic's outbreak, the poverty rate in Jordan leapt from 15% to 26%. Unemployment rose five points, reaching 24.7% by the end of 2020.

Will the exposé reduce the billions in financial aid his kingdom pockets every year from the United States. Tiny Jordan has for years been one of the world's largest recipients of such funds. It's currently ranked number two.
From Haaretz, October 19, 2011

I find myself hoping at this point that some, at least, of the above penetrates the hearts and minds of the powers that be (they know who they are) who refuse to help us win justice for Malki and in many cases actively block the process. 

As we near the anniversary of her murderer's release, let's remember what a fiasco the Shalit Deal was. For my views at the time, not so different today, see "Shalit Prisoner Swap Marks 'Colossal Failure' for Mother of Israeli Bombing Victim" in Haaretz, October 2011 .

One of the deal's outspoken proponents, Nehemia Shtrassler, who writes on economics at Haaretz, was forced to dredge up ridiculous defenses this past weekend ["Opinion | Israel Must Do Everything to Bring Soldiers Home"]. One is that past leaders who refused to release terrorists with blood on their hands had blood on their own hands - since they had waged wars! And another: that releasing dangerous terrorists isn't all that bad because there's an unlimited supply of them out there. So imprisoning the captured ones won't prevent terror attacks in any case! 

Of course applying that "logic" to its conclusion would mean emptying all our prisons. And just forgetting justice.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

9/11 and me

Today, many of us are answering the question "Where were you when you heard of the 9/11 terror attacks?"

Like most others, news of the crash into the North Tower reached me without the slightest suspicion it was anything more than a horrific aviation catastrophe. I was seated in a grief therapist's office and after he saw the headline on his phone, we were shocked together.

We then proceeded with our conversation intended to help me grapple with another terror attack, one that had turned my life inside out just a month earlier: the August 9, 2001 massacre at the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria.
A newsagency photo of my daughter Malki's grave
on the day we buried her [Image Source]

My fifteen year old daughter Malki perished there that afternoon and the therapist was trying to comfort me. 

Without much success. 

I remember his references - about once in every session - to grieving wild animals who curl up and isolate from their herds or packs when they lose a child.

By the time I emerged onto the hot and sunny Jerusalem streets in the late afternoon, the news of the attacks in New York and Washington had crystalized. What I learned was they were being attributed to Islamic terrorists. 

I was struck at how the identical evil targeting Israel for the past year had now also reached America. New York is my birthplace and had been my home until the age of 22. 

The sense of helplessness before a powerful and merciless enemy was overwhelming.

Twenty years later, the grief, both personal and collective remains terribly raw. 

And that helplessness, mostly unchanged.

Monday, September 6, 2021

On making terrorists pay the price and other questions for the President

The Jordanian royals on the day they were hosted in the Oval Office
We're in the hours leading up to Rosh Hashana, the start of the High Holydays season in Jewish life and the start of a new year according to the lunar calendar of the Jewish people.

It's an appropriate time to mention what President Biden expressed in the wake of the August 26, 2021 atrocity carried out at Kabul's airport in Afghanistan. 

Speaking after what he called “a tough day”, he said the United States would uphold its “sacred obligation” to the families of the fallen. Quoted in the New York Times, President Biden sounded unequivocally determined:
“To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive,” the president said. “We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.” ...He vowed the United States would respond with force at “a moment of our choosing,” echoing President Bush’s remarks days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

President Biden, here's what I am wondering. Why isn't the mass-murdering terrorist Ahlam Tamimi, the one whose bomb took the life of fifteen innocents inside a pizzeria including my sweet daughter Malki, being made to "pay the price". 

Seven men and women and eight children perished in Tamimi's 2001 attack on Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria. Two of her victims were Americans including Malki who was just fifteen.

Bringing Tamimi to justice ought to be surprisingly straightforward. There is no need to "hunt her down" in your words; her whereabouts are known to all, or at least everyone who needs to know which includes the law enforcement agencies of the United States government. 

But here's the thing. Tamimi, who has never denied what she did, lives as a protected celebrity in Amman, Jordan's capital city. To judge from the number of media interviews she has given, her precise home address is a matter of public knowledge. 

And it gets even easier: there is an extradition treaty that was signed and ratified by the US and Jordan in 1995 and that is regarded as valid by the State Department. 

What's more, her extradition to stand trial in the US has already been demanded over and again by the Department of Justice, starting - according to well-placed sources - in 2013, more than eight years ago.

Eight years. 

So you and anyone reading this may ask why it is that Tamimi hasn't already been made to "pay the price"? Why is she still free, influential, a Jordanian icon?

And here too the answer is not complicated. It is because the White House and the State Department are afraid to upset Jordan's King Abdullah. They have accepted his refusal to comply with their extradition demand without the slightest whimper. 

King Abdullah, the unelected ruler of a small, impoverished country which has received billions of dollars in US aid for years, gets to dictate the rules: No extradition. 

And you, Mr President - who talks so tough to the Kabul airport terrorists - have no tough words for King Abdullah. Only reverence for "His Majesty"

And, of course, more cash.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Pompeo, justice and betrayal

What we published last November
I promised to prove that our struggle is apolitical. 

My last post [Fear Uncertainty and Doubt at the State Department, August 9, 2021] lambasted the U.S. State Department, and especially Secretary Antony J. Blinken, for honoring - no, idolizing - Jordan's ruler King Abdullah II during his recent visit to DC and a full day at the State Department

It noted State's omission of Abdullah's refusal to extradite mass murderer Ahlam Tamimi despite the US Department of Justice's demand he do so. Our daughter Malki was murdered in the bombing she orchestrated and for which she has claimed credit for years.

Many readers have critiqued my husband Arnold Roth and me for "squandering" the "golden opportunity" that ex-President Trump's administration offered us. They insist that had we approached him and his team in some other, better way, Tamimi would now be in US custody.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is we made strong and repeated attempts to reach out to them right through the Trump years. All of this effort was in vain.

Here below is a summary of the pleas we directed specifically at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as it appeared in the blog we have produced together for the past fifteen years. The blog is called This Ongoing War and we published this post which was authored by Arnold, nine months ago. 

We published it at the time because we felt it important to let people know we had tried, and failed again totally for the last time, to get Pompeo's attention. From the reactions we're hearing now. it failed to be seen or understood widely enough.

We did something yesterday that we have never done before.

We ordered a display advertisement in a mainstream newspaper: today's (Thursday’s) Jerusalem Post. Our message appears on its front page.

The timing of our ad is intended to coincide with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Israel that began yesterday afternoon (Wednesday November 18). 

Our hope is that he will see it at breakfast. And that perhaps he will think about the images we included, as well as the scriptural quote at the top of the text: “Justice, justice thou shalt pursue”.

The words from Deuteronomy (the Biblical book called Devarim in Hebrew) will be recited in the Jewish world's annual cycle of Torah reading when we get to Parshat Shoftim, the weekly portion called “Judges”. 

That happens next in August 2021. By coincidence, the same week will include the twentieth anniversary of the Sbarro pizzeria massacre.

There are two images in our Pompeo advertisement. One shows Malki. The other is of the devastated Sbarro pizzeria in the center of Jerusalem, minutes after a bomb placed by Ahlam Tamimi exploded inside. 

Tamimi, a Jordanian woman who arrived from her homeland alone, soon joined Fatah. And then, in June 2001 and aged 21, she switched to Hamas. She was evidently in search of something and found it that summer: the opportunity to kill Jews on a satisfyingly large scale. It was an opportunity she grabbed.

On the morning of July 27, 2001, a Friday, Tamimi carried a smallish made-by-Hamas bomb embedded inside a beer can and surreptitiously placed it on a shelf in what was then a Co-op Supermarket. This was located in the basement of a building on Jerusalem’s King George Street that locals knew as Hamashbir. It's an office building today with some shops at street level. She quickly left the scene.

The bomb fizzed with no serious damage except to the ambitious bomber’s pride. 

By her own account, she raged in fury at her Hamas handlers right afterwards and demanded something much larger. She got it ten days later: a diabolical exploding guitar case and a young religious fanatic eager to carry it on his back into whatever target Tamimi chose.

Tamimi scoured Jerusalem and chose Sbarro. The busy pizzeria with the good hashgacha (certificate of being kosher) was popular among religiously observant youngsters like Malki. Tamimi has for years wanted it to be known that her choice was based on the large number of Jewish children reliably inside at that hour. We don't know why this single fact does not lead every report ever published about this exceptionally cold-blooded murdering Islamist. It should.

Mostly behind the scenes, we have pressed the United States to insist Jordan extradites Tamimi since 2012. She has faced serious federal terror charges since they were unsealed by a team of senior department of Justice officials in a public event in March 2017. They had been issued secretly by a judge four years earlier.

This evidently was known to the senior members of Jordan’s political and royal power structure. That’s because secret – and entirely unsuccessful - efforts were made by high-level American officials for several years to persuade Jordan to hand Tamimi over to the FBI. They knew Tamimi was charged even before we (or even the US Congress) did. And to be clear about this central element: there's been an active and totally valid treaty between Jordan and the US since 1995 for the extradition of fugitives like Tamimi. The State Department said nothing for years about the way Jordan breaches that treaty in the Tamimi case (though not in other cases). It started being open and explicit about it late last year ["03-Nov-19: In Washington, a step towards bringing the Sbarro bomber to justice"]

Why should US charges and American justice even enter the Tamimi story? 

The simple answer: Because Malki had American citizenship via her New York-born mother. And there’s an American law that gives it the right and the obligation to go after terrorists who kill American nationals outside the territorial United States. Once taken into custody, the fugitive terrorist can be flown to the US and tried in a US court under US law. It’s what ought to have happened to Tamimi.

But first the FBI has to get its hands on the fugitive terrorist. 

The good news is the US and Jordan signed a treaty to facilitate extradition in both directions. That was in 1995, and in the years that followed extraditions were carried out on request just as the treaty stipulated. But something about the Tamimi case made it different for the Jordanians. They started refusing as soon as the requests arrived and have continued refusing right up until today [see "16-Nov-20: Justice, the Tamimi extradition and what Jordan tells Arabic media but not the world"]. The US has made clear its view that Jordan is wrong,

Tamimi not only lives in complete freedom under the patronage of the Jordanian government but has become a media celebrity there and in large parts of the Arab world. The details are chilling - almost beyond comprehension.

Our Jerusalem Post ad is a call to action to the Trump administration and specifically to its Secretary of State. There’s no political dimension to it - just a call to compel Jordan to abide by a bilateral treaty to which it is a party. And for pure and simple justice to be done.

We have made repeated efforts to recruit politicians to give our campaign some clout but they have borne no fruit. And it’s not that we’re on the wrong side of politics because we’re not on any side.

It’s also not that people actually refuse our request or argue with us or give us cogent reasons why Tamimi ought to be left alone. That’s of course not true about Jordan. There its media, some of its public officials and citizens enthusiastically stand with her.

What mostly happens is we’re ignored. Many of those we approach don’t return our calls or emails or look right through us if we happen to be speaking face to face.

How likely is it that this time will be different? Hard to know but it doesn’t matter to us. Tzedek tzedek tirdof, as the scripture says. Justice, justice though shalt pursue.

That’s our role.

We’re not alone. As our ad says, we have a petition (here - and it's not too late to sign if you haven't already). Thousands of people from everywhere – a not insignificant number of them from Arab countries and even from Jordan – have signed. Their support encourages and empowers us.

Secretary Pompeo, it’s not too late to act” reads our banner headline. “We ask that you do what needs to be done so that Tamimi is at last brought to justice in Washington.”

Next week, after the American visitor leaves, we will go, just the two of us, to Malki’s grave. We do that every year on her birthday. This next time, we are going to have to deal with the reality that she would have become 35 years old that day - but instead she was ripped from our grasp and will not come back. 

We remember her precious life when we get together with our children and grandchildren. And we feel gratified and proud when we look at the exceptional work done daily by the Malki Foundation, the charitable organization that for the past nineteen years has served as a non-sectarian memorial to Malki's short but remarkably impactful life.

And at night when we dream that she is alive and hug her lovingly.

Secretaries of State come and go as do ambassadors and presidents, prime ministers and kings. What never goes away is the absolute need to keep justice at the center of our lives as families and as a society. Our advertisement comes to deliver that message to the breakfast table of movers and shakers as well as to the hearts of ordinary people everywhere.

UPDATE December 5, 2020: Not a word of media comment from any of the many reporters traveling with the Secretary of State. And no response from Secretary of State Pompeo or any of his spokespeople, advisers or assistants.

So, for the record: Label us apolitical. Or at least non-partisan.

Here below is our paid Jerusalem Post front page advertisement, the one that Pompeo's entire retinue and the Great Man himself have ignored totally from November 18, 2020 until right up to this morning.

Click to see it larger. 

Monday, August 9, 2021

Fear Uncertainty and Doubt at the State Department

Malki z"l
Words cannot convey the enormity of a 20th anniversary of the massacre that took our child's life. 

Instead I'll take this opportunity to focus on the ongoing travesty of justice which we are endeavoring to correct. And rather than restate it in detail, I'll home in on the U.S. State Department's current stance.

That Department has concocted its very own, as yet unheard-of, definition of "prioritize". In its curt official response to our email enquiring whether Secretary of State Blinken mentioned Ahlam Tamimi to King Abdullah last week, that verb popped up repeatedly.

Secretary Blinken met privately with King Abdullah of Jordan following President Biden's tete-a-tete with Jordan's unelected ruler. My husband and I wondered whether Blinken raised the matter of Jordan's refusal to accede to the U.S. Department of Justice's demand that our child's murderer, Hamas operative Tamimi, be extradited to be tried in a U.S. Federal Court for the orchestration of of the 2001 Sbarro bombing - the terror attack in which 15 men, women and children perished - and a sixteenth has been in a coma ever since. 

Three of those victims, including our fifteen year old Malki, were U.S. citizens. (Malki and a young American tourist are the two dead American nationals. The third American is alive but has been in a vegetative coma all these years.) 

Moreover, in 1995 Jordan and the U.S. signed and ratified an extradition treaty.

Sec Blinken hosts Jordan's king - July 20, 2021 
So "prioritizing" the issue would have made a lot of sense. The official message below sent to us a few days ago as a private email would truly have been a welcome one: 
"I want to express the Department's sincere condolences on the tragic loss of your daughter, Malki, murdered in the heinous attack in Jerusalem in 2001. As the [exact job title deleted, at least for now] for Counterterrorism, I want to reiterate to you and your family that the Department of State continues to prioritize seeing Ahlam al-Tamimi face justice in the United States for her role in the terrorist attack that claimed the life of your daughter and 14 others. We continue to seek Tamimi's extradition to the United States at the most senior levels with the Government of Jordan."
It would indeed have been welcome had it been at all truthful. 

But clearly in the State Department lexicon, "prioritize" means something entirely different from what it does for you and me. 

Because this is how Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken actually handled the king's intransigence during his encounter with him...

Though he would presumably be considered an official at the "most senior levels" of his own department, it appears he simply did not raise it at all

Instead, like every other American official, politician or VIP who met with him during his July 19-23 Washington visit, he occupied himself with lavishing praise on King Abdullah.

Here are Blinken's words to the press prior to their private conversation. Don't be shocked at the hyperbolic royalty rigmarole - it is de rigeur when any U.S. official or journalist addresses that dictator:
"...Your Majesty, it is a real pleasure to welcome you to the State Department, the Crown Prince as well. We couldn’t be more pleased to have you here. .. I think it’s a reflection of the tremendous value that the United States places on its relationship with Jordan, a remarkable partnership over many years, many decades. Jordan is a powerful, powerful partner for peace, for stability in the region, dealing with ISIS and terrorism, a remarkably generous host to refugees. On so many levels, this partnership demonstrates its importance, its value to us... So, we’re so pleased to have you here... Lots to talk about, but mostly, welcome. Welcome to you, Crown Prince, welcome. It’s so good to have you as well." [Official remarks to the press according to the State Department record, July 20, 2021]
And in case that introduction left anyone in doubt, the exchange below between a journalist and a State Department spokesman at the subsequent press conference should put the matter to rest:
QUESTION: Yeah. Well, did it [the Tamimi extradition issue] come up?
MR PRICE: I’m not in a position to speak to the meeting, but we’ll have a readout...
QUESTION: Well, are you – I mean, are you – has this administration yet raised it with – raised the matter with Jordanian authorities, the King or not? Or is this something that would have just come up for the first time today?
MR PRICE: This issue has been raised with our Jordanian partners.
I don't know about you but I would conclude that the spokesperson is really saying it wasn't raised but he prefers to not say that explicitly.

Stay tuned for my next post where I detail former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's dismissal of our entreaties. The State Department's adoration of Jordan's king is as bi-partisan as bi-partisan gets.

[Wondering what the term "Fear Uncertainty and Doubt" means? See this here.]

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Words at the grave: Twenty years

These are the words, translated from Hebrew to English, that I shared with friends and family gathered today at the grave of my daughter Malki, and beside the grave of her dear friend Michal Raziel. The girls are buried side by side, having been murdered side by side in the terror attack on Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria on August 9, 2001. In the Jewish calendar, today - the 20th day of the month of Av - is the twentieth anniversary of that date.

(The Hebrew text is below the English.)

* * *  

Who would have believed that one can carry around a broken heart for twenty years? 

The intensity of the pain and longing hasn't faded one iota with time. The memories of life with Malki in our midst are such happy ones that they only sadden. I usually banish them - just to shield myself. 

What celebration Malki brought us by her mere presence - truly, celebration. With her wide smile, her perpetual giving, her generosity, her heavenly flute-playing, her innumerable artistic creations, her passion for life.

If the years of grief have taught me anything it is that for this loss there is no comfort. The words that often reverberate in my mind are: Malki, were you there or did I only dream? (Perhaps, by Israeli poet, Rachel)

It is impossible for Arnold and me to mark the 20th anniversary of the murders of Malki, her friend of Michal and of the other thirteen victims of the Sbarro massacre without mentioning the ongoing travesty of justice. 

We are determined to continue pursuing justice, G-d willing, as long as the murderer, Ahlam Tamimi, enjoys freedom and as long as we have strength for the struggle. 

May we witness the realization of that goal soon and in our time.

* * * 

מי היה מאמין שאפשר לסחוב לב שבור עשרים שנה? 

עצמת הכאב והגעגועים לא עומעמה במאומה עם הזמן. 

הזכרונות של החיים בעוד מלכי הייתה אתנו הם כל כך שמחים שהם אינם משמחים. אני מבריחה אותם לרוב - בכדי להתגונן מהכאב. איזו חגיגה הביאה לנו מלכי בעצם נוכחותה - כן, ממש חגיגה. עם החיוך הרחב, הנתינה, הנדיבות, הנגינה השמימית בחליל, אינספור יצירות האומנות, ההתלהבות מהחיים. אם שנות האבל לימדו אותי משהו, הרי זה שאין נחמה לאבדן הזה. המלים שמהדהדות בי תכופות הן "מלכי, ההיית או חלמתי חלום"?

אי אפשר לי ולארנולד לציין 20 שנה להירצחם של מלכי ומיכל ו-13 קרבנות סבארו הנוספים בלי להזכיר את אי הצדק המתמשך. אנחנו נחושים להמשיך לרדוף את הצדק אי"ה כל עוד הרוצחת תמימי נהנית מהחופש וכל עוד יש בנו את הכוחות למאבק. 

יהי רצון שנזכה לראות את התממשות הצדק במהירה בימינו.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

On failing to move our fight for justice to center-stage

King Abdullah II of Jordan addresses a Congressional committee
As Malki's yahrzeit nears (the twentieth day of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar which this year falls on July 29, two days from now), we are digesting the failure of last week's efforts to bring our fight for justice to center-stage.

Despite some of our terrific media exposure, Jordan's King Abdullah scored his customary adulation - groveling, actually - from his US hosts. They included the White House, Congress and major media outlets. And that was across-the-board, bi-partisan groveling.

The king's last interview (actually the only interview he appears to have given to the American media throughout his entire lengthy visit (text here via Jordan Times; video here via CNN), was with CNN's Fareed Zakaria who rates by most, myself included, as level-headed, intelligent and insightful. 

So I was surprised and disgusted to watch him behave as sycophantically as every other American has in Abdullah's presence. Each sentence was preceded with "Your Highness" (he used the expression seven times). And his last line was "Your Highness, it always an honor and a pleasure to talk to you."

I invite anyone to explain to me why champions of democracy are so obsequious to a ruthless, unelected totalitarian dictator; a leader who protects a self-confessed mass-murdering terrorist and refuses to extradite her to the US despite its demand that he do so in accordance with a valid extradition treaty signed and ratified 26 years ago.

Mr. Zakariah, please explain why you studiously avoided this issue in your lengthy interview - "wide-ranging" was how the Jordanian press described it. 

Source: FBI website
Explain why the fact that Abdullah harbors one of the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists didn't detract one iota from the respect you lavished on him. 

How has he captivated you? With his impeccable mastery of the English language? His almost-British accent? His glibness? His beautiful, designer clad, and equally articulate, wife?

But Zakaria is in good company. Neither President Biden nor Secretary of State Blinken mentioned the Tamimi travesty of justice either when they met with Abdullah this past week. Since videos of those conversations weren't released, we have no way of knowing whether they were also as sycophantic as Zakaria toward a ruler, don't forget, who is recipient of US$1.6 billion in aid annually.

This king-worship - a monarch who remains in power by the grace of US benefaction - is as baffling as it is infuriating.