The real face of Jordan

Every once in a while, the Jordanian people are given a chance to express how they really feel about Israel. It’s ugly.

By Caroline B Glick, JPOST

JORDAN’S KING Hussein leans over and shakes hands with Margalit Badayev, the mother of slain Israel

Jordan is the country to Israel’s east with which Israel has had a formal peace for 23 years.

And its people hate Israel, and Jews, even more than the Iranians do.

Every once in a while, the Jordanian people are given a chance to express how they really feel about Israel. It’s ugly.

Twenty years ago, on March 13, 1997, 7th and 8th grade girls from the AMIT Fuerst junior high school for girls in Beit Shemesh packed box lunches and boarded a school bus that was to take them to the Jordan Valley for a class trip. The high point of the day was the scheduled visit to the so-called “Island of Peace.”

The area, adjacent to the Naharayim electricity station, encompasses lands Israel ceded to Jordan in the 1994 peace treaty and Jordan leased back to Israel for continued cultivation by the Jewish farmers from Ashdot Yaakov who had bought the lands and farmed them for decades.

Israel’s formal transfer of sovereignty – and Jordan’s recognition of Jewish land rights to the area – were emblematic of the notion that the peace treaty was more than a piece of paper. Here, officials boasted, at the Island of Peace, we saw on-theground proof that Jordan and Israel were now peaceful neighbors.

Just as Americans in California can spend a night at the bars in Tijuana and then sleep it off in their beds in San Diego, so, the thinking went, after three years of formal peace, Israeli schoolgirls could eat their box lunches in Jordan, at the Island of Peace, and be home in time for dinner in Beit Shemesh.

Shortly after they alighted their buses, that illusion came to a brutal end.

The children were massacred.

A Jordanian policeman named of Ahmad Daqamseh, who was supposed to be protecting them, instead opened fire with his automatic rifle.

He murdered seven girls and wounded six more.

On Jordanian territory, the guests of the kingdom, the girls had no one to protect them. Daqamseh would have kept on killing and wounding, but his weapon jammed.

In the days that followed, Israel saw two faces of Jordan and with them, the true nature of the peace it had achieved.

On the one hand, in an extraordinary act of kindness and humility, King Hussein came to Israel and paid condolence calls at the homes of all seven girls. He bowed before their parents and asked for forgiveness.

On the other hand, Hussein’s subjects celebrated Daqamseh as a hero.

The Jordanian court system went out of its way not to treat him like a murderer. Instead of receiving the death penalty for his crime – as he would have received if his victims hadn’t been Jewish girls – the judges insisted he was crazy and sentenced him instead to life in prison. Under Jordanian law his sentence translated into 20 years in jail. In other words, Daqamseh received less than three years in jail for every little girl he murdered and no time for the six he wounded.

Not satisfied with his sentence, the Jordanian public repeatedly demanded his early release. The public’s adulation of Daqamseh was so widespread and deep-seated that in 2014, the majority of Jordan’s parliament members voted for his immediate release.

Three years earlier, in 2011, Jordan’s then-justice minister Hussein Majali extolled Daqamseh as a hero and called for his release.

Last week, sentence completed, Daqamseh was released. And within moments of his return, in the dead of night to his village, crowds of supporters emerged from their homes and celebrated their hero.

Daqamseh, the supposed madman, never expressed regret for his crime.

And now a free man, he was only too happy last week to use his release as a means of justifying, yet again, his crime.

“Normalization with Zionists is a lie!” he declared in an interview with Al Jazeera. He went on to call for the conquest of Israel and the destruction of the Jewish state.

Jordan owes its existence not to its population nor even to its silver- tongued monarch, Hussein’s son Abdullah. It owes its existence to its location. For Israel and the West the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a critical piece of real estate.

For Israel, the kingdom is a buffer against Iraq and Syria.

For the Americans it is a safe port in the storm in the midst of the Arab world now suffering from convulsions of jihadist revolutions, counterrevolutions, insurgencies and counterinsurgencies.

Jordan, which since 2003 has absorbed a million refugees from Iraq and another million from Syria, is viewed by Europeans as a great big refugee camp. It must be kept stable lest the Iraqis and Syrians move on to Europe.

If it weren’t for Israel and the Western powers, the Hashemite Kingdom would have been overthrown long ago.

Today, Jordan is an economic and social tinderbox. Its debt to GDP ratio skyrocketed from 57% to 90% between 2011 and 2016. Youth unemployment, while officially reported at 14%, actually stands at 38%.

Jordan, which is the second-poorest state in terms of its available water sources, relies on Israeli exports of water to survive. Its government is its largest employer. Its largest export is its people, whose remittances to their relatives back home keep 350,000 families afloat. And those remittances have fallen off dramatically in recent years due to the drop in oil prices on the world market.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the second largest political force in the country. Although Jordanians were revolted in 2015 when Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria burned alive a downed Jordanian pilot, ISIS has no shortage of sympathizers in wide swaths of Jordanian society. More than 2,000 Jordanians joined ISIS in Syria and several thousand more ISIS members and sympathizers are at large throughout the kingdom.

Whereas Palestinians used to make up an absolute majority of the population, leading many to observe over the years that the real Palestine is Jordan, since the Iraqi and Syria refugees swelled the ranks of the population, the Palestinian majority has been diminished.

Jordan is a reminder that nation building in the Arab world is a dangerous proposition. With each passing year, the US provides Jordan with more and more military and civilian aid to keep the regime afloat. And with each passing year, voices praising Daqamseh and his ilk continue to expand in numbers and volume.

Jordan shows that the concept of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors is of limited value. So long as the hearts and the minds of the people of the Arab world are filled with conspiracy theories about Jews, and inspired by visions of jihad and destruction that render mass murderers of innocent schoolchildren heroes, the notion that genuine peace is possible is both irrational and irresponsible.

Recently it was reported that last October, Israel’s ambassador to Jordan Einat Schlein gave a pessimistic assessment of Jordan’s future prospects to IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkott. Eisenkott reportedly reacted to her briefing by suggesting that Israel needs to figure out a way to help the regime to survive.

Eisenkott was correct, of course.

Israel, which now faces a nightmare situation along its border with post-civil war Syria, does not want to face the prospect of a post-Hashemite Jordan, where the people will rule, on its doorstep.

But Israel can ill afford to assume that this will not happen one day, and plan accordingly.

Under the circumstances, the only way to safeguard against the day when Daqasmeh and his supporters rule Jordan is to apply Israeli law to the Jordan Valley and encourage tens of thousands of Israelis to settle down along the sparsely populated eastern border.

After the massacre, the parents of the dead children and the public as a whole demanded to know why the school hadn’t smuggled armed guards into the Island of Peace to protect them. Their question was a reasonable one.

Daqamseh was able to kill those girls because we let down our guard.

The only way to prevent that from happening again – writ large – is to reinforce that guard by reinforcing our control over eastern Israel.

23 years after the peace was signed, nothing has changed in the Kingdom of Jordan. No hearts and minds have been turned in our favor. The peace treaty has not protected us. The only thing that protects our children is our ability and willingness to use our weapons to protect them from our hate-drenched neighbors with whom we share treaties of peace.

Mudar Zahran wrote to Glick,

Dear Caroline,
Your article suggested Jordanians were universally happy with Dagamseh.
Allow me to share these facts:
1-Jordan’s king-controlled media celebrated his release and gave him the title of a hero.
2-Jordan’s Minister of Interrior-The king’s strong man and heavy-handed enforcer-sent his OFFICIAL ENVOY to congratulate Dagamseh and the king’s media covered that with pride. I’d be happy to send you the news links in Arabic,
3-Celebrations were in Irbid-His home town, and Kerak -The king’s most loyal or even only loyal- town. A city of a mere 100,000.
4-Amman and Zarqa are the largest two cities with a Palestinian majority population and they did NOT celebrate by any chance.
5-The king wanted the killer to be celebrated and his intelligence desk facilitaed it, he was driven from jail in a mercedes with a parade of police cars. Usually, killers, released terrorists etc. are delievered home in a prison wagon, why not him?
6-The king wants to send you a message: If I fall, the Jordanians are crazy and may eat you alive. Jordanians hate Israel but they are mostly anti-Islamist and they are not willing to engage in wars. Evidence is how little they vote for Islamists.
7-Number of Syrian refugees is 650,000, and NOT millions. Number of Iraqi refugees is 160,000 (160K) and not millions either. I know this because I was the one in chrage of this matter when I worked for the US Department of State.
9-Jordan is safe for Israel because US controls our army and our intelligence. The king is rarely ever in the country.
10-I suggest you read this report for facts: Abed Al Maala, the Deputy Secretary General of the Jordanian Opposition, who stressed: “The king’s regime has raised this killer and systematically promotes terror. Let’s not forget that the king’s envoy visited Daqamseh upon his release and congratulated him publicly. It is time for the Israelis to see the king and his government for what they are.”

March 21, 2017 | 5 Comments » | 60 views

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5 Comments / 5 Comments

  1. The present King is a shade of the deceased King Hussein . Problem was that he chose the wrong successor . This one has no heart or decent morals

  2. I knew of the fate of the Jewish children massacred by this unspeakable
    criminal, words do not suffice to qualify. As I was reading, I felt sick in
    my being, my stomach and my heart. Yes, dear Caroline, this is yet one
    more reminder of who they are: heartless savages, way below the worst
    animals, unfortunately, I know of so many similar events where we Jews
    are on the receiving end. General Gadi Azancot (that is his name) will
    act according to the savageries these people are capable of. One of these
    events is what happened at the Jewish School in Toulouse France.
    Miriam Monsonego: I met her great grandparents decades ago after my
    Bar Mitzvah at Vichy, France. The Monsonegos were friends of my parents,
    educated, kind, truly the very best.
    I read and appreciate everything you write.

  3. The picture shows the distress of this family stricken by
    unspeakable pain as we Jews feel more than anyone else.
    Sitting Shiva in such case is like being in a nightmare…
    May God impart on them Rahamim, Amen.

  4. This plain and simple fact hast to be understood: Jordan IS “Palestine”. There IS already a two-state solution. Such states are Israel and Jordan. Jordan is the largest chunk (75%) of the land carved out from Palestine to accomodate muslim arabs living in Palestine. The remaining Jewish Palestinians (surprise! they existed up until 1948) are supposed to live in the territory west of the Jordan river, a meager remaining 25% of the originally Jewish homeland allocated by the Balfour declaration.

    This simple fact needs to be fully understood first by Israelis themselves, next by the world Jewry. Until Jews themselves are convinced that the muslim palestine dream already exists and has been usurped by Jordan, nobody else will try to even consider this fact. Once the idea has sunk in into the Jewish psyche, the rest of the world will slowly have to come to terms with this reality.

  5. Emancipation came to us Jews in Europe, first in France.
    What followed was worse than before: the Holocaust of European Jewry.
    Behind the scene was the Vatican who, while excommunicating Communism
    and Faschism did not oppose Nazism even knowing of the crimes they
    committed. In fact, the Church facilitated escaping Nazi leadership to
    South America providing false documents and funds. Out of the ashes,
    we returned to our ancient homeland of Eretz Israel and turned it into a
    dream country, this in a sea of dispair in surrounding hellholes.
    Now the Europeans meddle non-stop with what Israel does. I ask:
    Why is this in any way a business of their? Instead, they should
    look inward at the Islamic Invasion in their midsts: Moslem hoards
    are knifing, killing, sexually assaulting women and children, No Go
    Zones are expanding, the education system is in the toilet: Moslem
    youth terrorizing the teachers threatening them of beheading and
    what do Europeans do? Telling Israel not to build an extra bedroom.
    I say this to the Europeans: You and the Moslems deserve each other.
    Then there are the traitors of J Street: telling Israel to give away our
    ancestral homeland: Never gonna happen!

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