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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Jordanians really hate their Palestinian Arab citizens (Wikileaks)

Wikileaks has some interesting cables from Jordan that discuss the situation of Palestinian citizens of that country. Essentially, the Hashemite minority really hates the Palestinian majority, and can't wait for an excuse to kick them out.

Like, for example, a Palestinian Arab state.

Here are excerpts from a cable dated February 6, 2008:
East Bankers have an entirely different approach to thinking about the right of return. At their most benign, our East Banker contacts tend to count on the right of return as a solution to Jordan's social, political, and economic woes. But underlying many conversations with East Bankers is the theory that once the Palestinians leave, "real" Jordanians can have their country back. They hope for a solution that will validate their current control of Jordan's government and military, and allow for an expansion into the realm of business, which is currently dominated by Palestinians.

...In fact, many of our East Banker contacts do seem more excited about the return (read: departure) of Palestinian refugees than the Palestinians themselves. Mejhem Al-Khraish, an East Banker parliamentarian from the central bedouin district, says outright that the reason he strongly supports the right of return is so the Palestinians will quit Jordan. East Banker Mohammed Al-Ghazo, Secretary General at the Ministry of Justice, says that Palestinians have no investment in the Jordanian political system - "they aren't interested in jobs in the government or the military" - and are therefore signaling their intent to return to a Palestinian state.

When East Bankers talk about the possibility of Palestinians staying in Jordan permanently, they use the language of political threat and economic instability. Talal Al-Damen, a politician in Um Qais near the confluence of Jordan, the Golan Heights and Israel, worries that without the right of return, Jordan will have to face up to the political challenges of a state which is not united demographically. For his part, Damen is counting on a mass exodus of Palestinians to make room for East Bankers in the world of business, and to change Jordan's political landscape. This sentiment was echoed in a meeting with university students, when self-identified "pure Jordanians" in the group noted that "opportunities" are less available because there are so many Palestinians.

The right of return is certainly lower on the list of East Banker priorities in comparison with their Palestinian-origin brethren, but some have thought the issue through a little more. NGO activist Sa'eda Kilani predicts that even (or especially) after a final settlement is reached, Palestinians will choose to abandon a Palestinian state in favor of a more stable Jordan where the issue of political equality has been resolved. In other words, rather than seeing significant numbers return to a Palestinian homeland, Jordan will end up dealing with a net increase in its Palestinian population.

As with their Palestinian counterparts, conspiracy theories are an intrinsic part of East Banker mythology regarding the right of return. Fares Braizat, Deputy Director of the Center for Strategic Studies at Jordan University, told us two of the most commonly held examples (which he himself swears by). The first is that Jordanians of Palestinian origin choose not to vote because if they were to turn out en masse, Israel (and/or the United States) would assume that they had incorporated themselves fully into Jordanian society and declare the right of return to be null and void. The second conspiracy theory, which has a similar theme, is that after the 1994 peace agreement between Jordan and Israel, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank issued a deliberate directive to "all Palestinians" residing in Jordan to avoid involvement in Jordanian politics so as not to be perceived as "going native." The main point of both theories is that Palestinians are planning to return to a future Palestinian state, and therefore have nothing substantive to contribute to the Jordanian political debate - a convenient reason for excluding them from that debate in the first place.

The right of return in Jordan is inextricably linked with the problem of semi-official discrimination toward the Palestinian-origin community. Braizat claims it is "the major reason that keeps the Jordanian political system the way it is." As long as the right of return is touted as a real solution, East Bankers will continue to see Palestinians as temporary residents in "their" country. This provides the justification to minimize the role of Palestinian-origin Jordanians in public life, since they are "foreigners" whose loyalty is suspect and who could in theory pack up and leave at any time. Note: The suspicion of disloyalty is deeply rooted in Black September, when Palestinian militants attempted to wrest political control from the Hashemite regime. Since then, Palestinians have been progressively excluded from the Jordanian security forces and civil service (Ref D). End Note. The suggestion that Palestinians should be granted full political representation in Jordan is often met with accusations that doing so would "cancel" or "prejudge" the right of return. For their part, many Palestinian-origin Jordanians are less concerned with "prejudging" the right of return, and more concerned with fulfilling their roles as Jordanian citizens who are eligible for the full range of political and social rights guaranteed by law.

While Jordanians of Palestinian origin are not shy about their origins, many stress just as strongly their strong connections and loyalty to Jordan. Jemal Refai says, "I consider myself Jordanian. Nobody can tell me otherwise." Mohammed Abu Baker, who represents the PLO in Amman, says, "if you tell me to go back to Jenin, I won't go. This is a fact - Palestinian refugees in Jordan have better living conditions." PNC member Isa Al-Shuaibi simply notes that "Palestinians in Jordan are not refugees. They are citizens."
What's the term for when a minority rules over, and discriminates against, the majority?

Remember - Jordan is the only Arab state that allowed large numbers of Palestinians to become citizens. If the Palestinians in Jordan are looked down upon this much, imagine how much the other Arab countries hate them.

Yet those same Arab countries will fall over themselves to hold conferences and sponsor UN resolutions and fund NGOs  that are supposedly "pro-Palestinian." Don't be fooled - they all hate them, and they want to dump them in Israel rather than help them integrate. This is the entire reason people still talk about the "right of return" today - because of the hate exhibited by Arab brethren of the Palestinians who want nothing to do with them.

(h/t Yoel)