Although many people justify violence by coining the phrase, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”, a friend recently explained his thoughts to me how he saw a concise difference. Look for who and what they attack on a regular basis, he said, then you can tell what their motivations are and begin to understand what to label them with.
It may be worth telling this definition to the Jordanians, who appear to have become increasingly confused of late about who are the victims and what are the perpetrators in the escalation in tensions in Jerusalem. This week, the Jordanian Parliament wrote letters of sympathy to the families of those who died in the Jerusalem Synagogue attack; not to the Rabbis and the victims mind you, but their murderers. This has followed on from the Parliament’s decision to hold a moment’s silence while in session to remember the ‘martyrs’ who died in the attack on top of remarks by the government that have complimented Abbas’ aggression in raising tensions.
The Jordanian King, Abdullah II, whose position is become perpetually unstable, is now attempting to appease the 3 million Palestinians living under his rule. These Palestinians, who are actively persecuted through a series of laws, royal decrees and security measures, are a simmering pot of tension. Just this year the King came out to express his fears of the conflict in Syria and Iraq over spilling into Jordan and cells of ISIS and other extremism consolidating.
Consequently, in order to solidify his position on the throne and not encourage the kind of Arab Spring revolts that have overthrown dynasties throughout the Arab world, Abdullah II has been actively pursuing an anti-Israel agenda. This has taken a new urgency after the Muslim Brotherhood, which poses the greatest organisational threat to the monarchy, led anti-Israel protests in the nation this year.
In response, King Abdullah II has followed the Jordanian Parliament’s lead in anti-Israel zeal. Jordan, as part of the 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, has custodian over holy sites in the Old City such as The Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque; despite this, the King and Parliament have been reckless considering the jurisdiction and responsibility this custodial gives Jordan in Jerusalem. For instance, Jordan propagated lies regarding the role of Israeli security around the Old City after scuffles broke out and unnecessarily raising tensions after this by pulling the Jordanian Ambassador in opposition to Israeli ‘colonialism’, legitimising the attack it had called for down the road just moments later as it called for resistance against the Zionists.
The particularly concerning point about this political crisis is the rationale providing the fuel for these flames. The flashpoint has been the completely reasonable desire for Jews to have freedom of religion, just like Muslims do, in the Old City, something that Jordan and the Palestinian Authority oppose. The justification for escalation of tensions and the legitimisation by the Jordanian elites for the terrorism has its roots in the attacks being situated in ultra-Orthodox neighbourhoods, against off duty IDF soldiers or the campaigns for freedom of religion for the Jews being led by ‘Right-Wing’ Rabbis.
By emphasising these facts, the Jordanians have successfully transcended Judaism to Zionism and vice versa. But these were not attacks on military targets or political buildings; the murders and confrontations were against babies, worshipers and young couples among others. Jordan has of course been buoyed by a reckless Palestinian Authority, which led by Abbas harbours its own fears of a Hamas overthrow in the disputed West Bank territories. Accordingly, Abbas has, since the summer war between Hamas and Israel, taken a harder stance towards Israel to save his reputation and hopes in the eventual Presidential election. Abbas is safe in the knowledge the West are never going to abandon their support for the Palestinian cause and thus can go as far as he wants in driving an anti-Semitic agenda to match that of Hamas’ platform.
By bringing about synonymy between Jews and the State of Israel, Abbas and now Jordan has kicked started a Holy War in Jerusalem that looks to widen the chasm between the Israeli and the Palestinian Authority. If this conflict turns towards first and foremost a religious dispute as opposed to a political and territorial one, then a long-term peace will be in tatters. This said, now the USA legislator is staunchly pro-Israel, lawmakers have begun to move against Abbas warning him of a cut in aid to the Palestinian Authority if he does not stop his incitement. Hopefully this will help quell some of the friction but if international ire does not turn towards Jordan for its despicable attitudes against Israel and the Jews, then peace will be a far away prospect.
After all, Jordan has a significant stake in the conflict. In the short term it can lead to massacres of the innocents that inhabit Jerusalem. In the long term, Jordan can break an already fragile peace process. One such area where Jordan’s bombast would cause problems is the continuation of the Israeli military presence along the Jordan Valley if Palestine was to become a state. At present, Palestine is not ready to become a state; it fails to fulfil nearly any of the UN’s criteria for statehood. At present, Jordan is prepared to honour those who have butchered worshippers in undisputed Israeli land in their holy place of worship and thus can be seen to be sympathetic to the goals of terrorists in the region. This stokes Israel’s fears that there can be no guarantees of security against terrorism and arms travelling from Jordan into Palestine to be used to attack Israel without a continued Israeli military presence in the valley.
We can already see how an Islamist platform filled with anti-Semitic policies can destroy hope for mutual agreement. The chronic anti-Semitism pursued by Hamas’ makes negotiations nigh impossible. So deeply is the racial element of their ideology embedded that the terror organisation is never going to sit around a table with the Israelis and come to an agreement. In fact, Hamas’ is unwilling to even satisfy Israel’s basic demand of stop the indiscriminate rocket fire into undisputed Israeli civilian areas.
The real fear now is that such an ideology can spread even more sharply across the Palestinian territories fed by a sympathetic to their cause Jordan. It is for this reason we need to stark talking about how Jordan is destabilising an already tense region further and what we are going to do.