Jordan, you know better

King Hussein finally managed to rid Jordan of Palestinian terrorists through aggressive military action.

king hussein 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
king hussein 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The news that the Jordanian parliament is calling for severing Jordan's diplomatic ties with Israel is deeply troubling. It is also hypocritical. Of all the countries in the Arab world - perhaps even in the entire world - Jordan knows what it takes to fight terrorism. In the three years following the 1967 Six Day War, Palestinian terrorists - in the form of the PLO and its 27 member terror groups - using Jordan as a base from which to attack Israel, engendered escalating lawlessness and chaos in Jordan. Increasingly flouting Jordanian law, confronting the Jordanian army, setting up roadblocks and extorting the general population, it created a state within a state. By the summer of 1970, many Palestinian groups were calling for King Hussein's overthrow and a Palestinian takeover of Jordan. Over the three years, King Hussein tried every which way to mollify the Palestinians, striking numerous cease-fire agreements with them, agreeing to their ever-increasing demands and even at one point offering PLO chairman Yasser Arafat the premiership. But each cease-fire and each agreement was taken by the Palestinian terrorists as a sign of weakness, and they used the lulls simply to reorganize and rearm. FINALLY, IN September 1970, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked three planes to the Jordanian desert about 50 kilometers east of Amman. This was the final straw for King Hussein, who was made to look impotent and powerless as the sovereignty of his country was violated so blatantly. On September 15, after all but 54 hostages from those planes were released, King Hussein set out to reestablish his reign and bring an end to the terror and chaos that had engulfed his country. Over the next 10 days, he waged an aggressive war against the terrorists, killing about 2,500 and wounding several thousand more. The Arab world was in an uproar, calling him an aggressor. President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt was angry at Hussein and warned of "grave consequences" if he did not stop the fighting. Syria in fact invaded Jordan to aid the Palestinians, and Iraq threatened to do the same. But Hussein persisted, despite being pained and conflicted by what he was doing. He saw the fighting as "a cancer operation that had to be performed to save Jordan's life" and made very clear - by appointing a prime minister of Palestinian origin and through other means - that he was not waging a war against the Palestinian people, but was merely fighting terrorists. In the end, Hussein prevailed. After a cease-fire to end the war, he continued his battle against the PLO over the ensuing 10 months until July 1971, when he succeeded in ousting it and all its terror constituents from the country. (They moved to Lebanon, where they once again began to terrorize not only Israel, but their host country.) For the next 30-plus years, Jordan knew no more terror. Now, Israel has reached a similar point with Hamas. After years of trying to make peace with the Palestinians of Gaza, even abandoning settlements and uprooting thousands of civilians who had lived there all their lives, Israel was faced with a Hamas unbound by any international rules of law and any norms of human decency. It brazenly and incessantly aimed rockets and shells at innocent Israeli civilians, a violation of Israeli sovereignty. It used a six-month cease-fire to reorganize and rearm. Israel finally found itself compelled to stop the terror, which it is now doing. Certainly Jordan, of all countries, should understand what Israel is doing and why. It should be applauding Israel rather than censuring it. The writer is author of Terror in Black September: The First Eyewitness Account of the Infamous 1970 Hijackings (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).