Brussels, Sbarro and moral clarity

Occasionally, after a  high profile terror attack, friends say: “I suppose this brings it all back to you.”

I politely agree with them.

But the truth is there is nothing to be “brought back.” The murder of our Malki in the Sbarro pizzeria massacre of 2001 never “goes anywhere” whence it can be “brought back.” It has been with us ever since, each hour of each day.

But the coverage of Tuesday’s Brussels attacks did trigger new ponderings about Malki. Her murder pre-dated smartphones so, as far we know, no footage of the Sbarro explosion exists. Even the still photos of the carnage are, like all images Israel releases of terror attacks, censored of horror. Whether this is wise is a debate for another post, but the upshot is that the chilling impact of that massacre has been dulled for the public and for posterity.

But when I watched footage of the Brussels bombings and heard the accompanying audio, I immediately transferred that to Malki’s end. I realized that the same chaos and confusion, the racing for cover and — most upsetting — the cries and screams must have engulfed Malki in her last moments. Perhaps even she herself screamed, moaned or cried.

These are new thoughts, fresh pain. The murder of a child is the grief that never stops taking.

Once again, when Mr. Netanyahu condemns terrorism and seeks the support of world leaders in fighting a common enemy, I am reminded of his hypocrisy. Of his dishonesty.

First, here is what he told AIPAC Tuesday:

The only way to defeat these terrorists is to join together and fight them together. That’s how we’ll defeat terrorism – with political unity and with moral clarity. I think we have that in abundance.”

Now let’s recall the moral clarity that this same man himself exhibited in June 2012.

I wrote an opinion piece about this back then, which the Times of Israel published. At that time, Ahlam Tamimi, Malki’s murderer, whom Mr. Netanyahu released and repatriated to her homeland, Jordan, in October 2011, was demanding that her fiance/cousin be permitted to join her there. She wanted very much to get married already and was growing impatient with Mr. Netanyahu’s government. Her terrorist supporters were tweeting away about how cruel he was to bar the star-crossed couple from reuniting.

Below is an excerpt from the 2012 article, “So you thought Netanyahu is tough on terrorism? Not exactly” (Times of Israel, June 15, 2012). I wrote then:

Three weeks ago, the Arab media reported that al-Tamimi presented himself at the Allenby Bridge seeking to enter Jordan and was refused. Ahlam Tamimi claimed the Israelis had agreed to allow her fiancé to join her and then reneged.

The matter received no local coverage, so we contacted the Shabak, Israel’s General Security Service, on May 22. We asked whether Tamimi’s claim was accurate. Despite several followup phone calls and e-mails, it was only on June 6 when a response finally arrived by fax from the Prime Minister’s Office. It curtly stated that “after consideration” permission had been given for Nizar al-Tamimi to go abroad subject to his undertaking to remain away for five years. It said he had not yet departed.


We immediately retained a lawyer to petition the High Court of Justice to have this decision reversed. We sent all the papers and affidavits to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Justice. In addition, we faxed and emailed a personal letter to Netanyahu begging him to reconsider this move.

We asked the government’s lawyer to agree to close the borders to Nizar al-Tamimi pending the urgent High Court hearing. We never imagined how ridiculous that request was. The following day, the government’s lawyer responded to ours with the news that Nizar al-Tamimi had been allowed to cross over to Jordan three days earlier.”

Moral clarity?  Sounds more like hogwash to me.

About the Author
A Jerusalem-based freelance writer, law graduate and commentator on the challenges facing people with special needs, Frimet Roth together with her husband Arnold co-founded The Malki Foundation ( in 2001. It provides concrete support for Israeli families of all faiths who care at home for a special-needs child. The Roths' daughter Malki was murdered at the age of 15 in the terrorist bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria. Her personal blog, under the title "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly", is at The views expressed here are personal.
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