The Jordan Press Association (JPA) backed The Jordan Times chief editor, Samir Barhoum, on Saturday for refusing an Israeli request to publish an apology for an anti-Semitic article published in the paper last Sunday.
Israel summoned Jordan’s ambassador to the Foreign Ministry on Thursday to protest against the op-ed by a former Jordanian foreign minister, who used quotes from Mein Kampf to support his vehemently anti-Israel argument.
The JPA said the article used “quotes and historical facts that had no anti-Semitic content whatsoever, contrary to what Israel had contended,” reported the Jordan News Agency on Saturday.
The organization expressed solidarity with “The Jordan Times, its chief editor and staff in rejecting an apology,” saying the article was “within the framework of free expression guaranteed by international conventions.”
The JPA accused Israel of being an occupying power which practices “daily apartheid policies and vicious crimes against the Palestinian people, including evictions and land expropriations.”
Kamel Abu Jaber, who served as Jordan’s foreign minister from 1991 to 1993, quoted Hitler as saying that in “the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature…” In the piece, which appeared as Israel commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jaber prefaced his citation of Hitler by quoting H.L. Mencken as saying “the men… people admire the most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”
Jaber went on to discuss the “Zionist big lie about Palestine – ‘a land without a people’ – that the entire Western world adopted, and the biblical, Talmudic myth of the ‘chosen people.’” In the piece, called “The big Zionist lie and the task ahead,” Jaber wrote: “Our Arab-Muslim civilization has never had a moment of rest or peace of mind since Zionism was able to penetrate Western civilization to the point where tens of millions of Westerners, the neo-conservatives, adopted that esoteric Talmudic myth, placing Zionist interests before and above their own national interests.”
Barhoum, in a statement to the press on Thursday, rejected accusations of anti-Semitism, expressing shock that the Israeli government tried to drag Jordanian authorities into a matter involving an article published in an independent newspaper, The Jordan Times reported on Saturday.
According to a government source quoted in the report, Jordanian Ambassador to Israel Walid Obeidat did not appear at the Israeli Foreign Ministry because he was spending the weekend in Amman.
Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad Momani said Saturday that “freedom of speech is guaranteed by the kingdom’s constitution.”
“I am shocked at the Israeli reaction to my article, which is a call for peace and a reminder to Israel to shed the settlement mentality,” Abu Jaber said in an interview with The Jordan Times.
“Summoning the Jordanian ambassador and protesting against an article by an average citizen? What’s happened to the freedom of speech that they are talking about? “They sometimes call Palestinians all kinds of names, denying their humanity and they call this democracy,” he said, adding that “I remind them [Israelis] that they are not the only people who suffered from Hitler and the Nazi movement.”
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.