A Palestinian spring for Jordan?


Jordan’s King Abdullah is worried about the Arab Spring making its way to his doorstep.

Speaking to The Washington Post, King Abdullah of Jordan urged Israel to jump-start peace negotiations with the Palestinians; otherwise, he said, “Israel will have to choose between democracy and apartheid.”

While Israel-bashing by Abdullah is nothing new, this “apartheid alert” from a regime based on apartheid policies against a Palestinian majority is shocking.

Abdullah’s attempts to publicly bash Israel, desperately sponsor born-dead peace talks, and welcome Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Amman, all indicate that Abdullah is worried about the Arab Spring making its way to his doorstep.

While Abdullah’s kingdom has been witnessing a much calmer tone of protest, nonetheless, they are regular and could grow into a revolution if the Palestinians join in (which so far they have not).

The Palestinian majority in Jordan have endured decades of discriminatory policies. In Apartheid South Africa, citizens were classified according to their race. As a result, the black majority ended up being ruled by a white minority. In a similar way, Abdullah’s Hashemite regime separates Jordan’s citizens into East Bankers (Beduin) and Palestinians. The East Bank minority, although also discriminated against, has been much better off than the Palestinian majority.

BUT IS it really fair to compare the half- British king’s regime to Apartheid South Africa? Let’s take a look at the facts.

Under the Hashemite regime, the last time a Palestinian served as prime minister was 21 years ago, and Tahir Masri lost his position in less than a year. Israel’s demonizers, including King Abdullah, simply overlook the fact that Azmi Bishara – an Arab-Israeli former Knesset member – ran for prime minister of Israel in 1999, despite being an outspoken enemy of the Jewish state, and received fair Israeli state TV coverage just like his Jewish opponents.

On the legislative level, Israel’s Arab minority has 14 out of 120 seats in the Knesset, while Abdullah’s Palestinian majority has six seats out of a 120-member Parliament. In Israel, Arabs serve as mayors while not a single Palestinian is currently serving as a mayor of any of Jordan’s cities, including the Palestinian-dominated Amman, Abdullah’s capital.

And Jordan’s discriminatory policies are not limited to the government, they they affect the Palestinian majority’s everyday lives. The UN Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) confirms Abdullah’s kingdom treats its Palestinian majority as refugees, despite the fact that they obtained Jordanian citizenships when the Hashemite regime occupied and annexed the West Bank in 1948. Israel, on the other hand, recognizes its Arab minority as full citizens with no questions asked.

Abdullah himself has admitted that his Palestinians are discriminated against. In 1999, when Abdullah was newly crowned following the death of his father King Hussein, Abdullah visited an Israeli-controlled crossing point between Jordan and Israel and delivered what the CNN described then as “a long-awaited message to Palestinians under his rule” by calling on fellow Jordanians to work toward “ending class divisions that have marginalized Palestinian citizens of the Hashemite Kingdom,” vowing that “discrimination must end.”

However, according to two Palestinian-Jordanian former senior officials, Abdullah’s actual policy was to sustain discrimination against Palestinians. This was made public in a US Embassy-Amman cable, exposed by Wikileaks, quoting former prime minister Tahir Masri and Abdullah’s former senior advisor, Adnan Abu Odeh.

That cable also documents a little-known fact, namely that only 35 percent of Jordan’s Palestinians are registered refugees. If that is true, let’s do the math.

According to UNRWA there are 1.8 million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan. If that constitutes a mere 35%, then the total number of Palestinians in Jordan could be as high as 5.2 million.

Jordan’s population is 6.5 million. Now, if Abdullah is discriminating against approximately 5.2 million, or 80%, of his country’s 6.5 million citizens, then accusations of “apartheid” should be more of a concern to him than to Israel, whose Arab (Palestinian) minority has full access to state services, public jobs, education, welfare and even the army for those desiring.

Discriminatory polices under Abdullah even extended to withdrawing passports from Palestinians. Human Rights Watch issued a report in 2010 confirming that the Jordanian government has been withdrawing citizenship from Palestinians in Jordan at random, and as a result destroying livelihoods and breaking families. Human Rights Watch Middle East Director Sarah Lea-Wahtson commented at the time that “Jordan is playing politics with the basic rights of thousands of its citizens.”

“Playing politics” is exactly what Abdullah was doing when he labeled Israel as a country moving towards apartheid. Abdullah is worried his disenfranchised and angry Palestinian majority will end up toppling him into the stream of the Arab Spring, and therefore he is doing what most Arab governments have been doing best for years: blaming their failures and shortcoming on Israel to distract their own people.

Abdullah should realize that Jordan’s Palestinians are fed up with him and his policies and that all of his anti-Israeli talk will not deter them from joining the Arab Spring. Abdullah must know that the Palestinian majority in Jordan is more concerned with the daily bread they cannot afford and the dignity they no longer have because of a king who treats them as sub-human.

Abdullah and other Arab rulers must realize that bashing Israel will not get them an Arab-Spring exemption.

Mudar Zahran is a Palestinian-Jordanian writer who resides in the UK.

February 13, 2012 | 5 Comments »

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  1. Excellent article and comments. And yes, David Frankel, there is no such thing as the Palestinian people (just Arabs from surrounding areas migrating in the late 1800’s to an area with jobs, totally unrelated to the Biblical Philistines from ancient Crete), but that doesn’t make this article a hoax. But you know we’re all preaching to the choir, as they say. (It’s all worked into my book in hopes people who don’t read serious political blogs but will read a silly spy novel might get the info!) However, I don’t think that having Jordan re-labeled as Palestine will solve all our problems. With Jews still in Israel, Arabs of various labels will still need to expel these non-Muslims polluting what was once controlled by Islam. Of course, the Jews were there first, and the whole thing about Jerusalem being the third most holy site in Islam is a hoax (see pages 164-167), but that doesn’t matter to most of the world. Still, it seems that giving the 80% of citizens of Jordan democratic representation (as in Egypt and Libya??? a grotesque distortion–is the majority truly Islamist?) and recognizing Jordan as Palestine is a step in the right direction.


  3. The foreign puppet hashemite king is aware of the glaring truth that the JEW FREE arab muslim state of Jordan is in fact the JEW FREE arab muslim state of Palestine. The only foreigners there are the Hashemites. As the Jews of the original Palestine mandate trust are excluded from 77% of the Palestine mandate territory it is obvious that the remaining 23% must be the exclusive Jewish nation, Why should the arabs get such a largee chunk? The faux king of a faux state for a faux people. the arabs attack on the jews of israel created the problem and they can easily solve the problem by taking responsibility for their creations: the jewish and arab refugees and the JEW FREE illegal state of JOrdan. Jordan can only be justified in its existence as the home of the arabs of the former mandate territory. The hashemites can only secure their longevity by re instating the rights of the former arab inhabitants of the Palestine Trust territory’s citizenship and inviting them to their desired JEW FREE homeland. Unless this happens the Jewish refugees will not receive justice as they have already completed their side of the population exchange resulting from jewish ethnic cleansing from arab lands. The big mouth faux foreign king appears ridiculous pontificating to the Jews as he sits on a glaring lie. The lies of the arab world are coming home to roost and their greed will consume them.


    Jordan will be a Palestinian Arab State, led by a Palestinian Arab Monarch, born in Amman, Palestine. His ancestry is from what was the Hejaz and is now Saudi Arabia [under the Saudi Dynasty… this land used to be called ARABIA]. King Abdullah Ibn Hussein, although a Jordanian, is also a Palestinian. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, for example, is an Israeli, but he is also a Palestinian.

    For Jordan, is Eastern Palestine, while Israel possesses all of Western Palestine (only 23% of Mandatory Palestine), (the land in dispute JUDEA AND sAMARIA is 5 percent of Palestine). Israel liberated Judea and Samaria in June 1967 after being attacked by Jordan. To deflate the present situation Jordan should allow an approximate one million Jordanians squatting in Israel… when I say Jordanians I mean those that flaunt a Jordanian ID or Passport… It is either he does that and consider himself P.M. or face the Music.