Again, with Jordan’s “Apartheid State”

[26-07-2010 12:00 AM]

By Banan Malkawi

“The world must tell Jordan that peace and integration of its own Palestinians are not privileges it is giving away.”

In his recent article in the ‘Jerusalem Post,’ Mudar Zahran launches yet another attack on Jordan in an analysis of domestic policies, which he views as discriminatory and outright “Apartheid” that goes even beyond that which took place in South Africa.

Zahran criticizes prominent Jordanian figures, such as Senator and former prime minister Faisal al-Fayez, and Interior Minister Nayef al-Qadi for their defense of Jordanian policy in “denaturalizating” Palestinians of their Jordanian citizenship, who had stated to a London-based Arab newspaper that “Jordan should be thanked for standing up against Israeli ambitions of unloading of the Palestinian land of its people” which Al Qadi describes as “the secret Israeli aim to impose a solution of Palestinian refugees at the expense of Jordan.”

He starts his op-ed “Jordan, Dr. peace and Mr. Apartheid,” published on July 24th, 2010, with noting that Senator Faisal al-Fayez, who is “considered one of the closest Jordanian officials to King Abdullah II; he is also a leader of the Bani Sakher tribe which has historically dominated the most important positions in the Hashemite Kingdom,” had threatened Israel on national Jordanian television with “6 million Jordanian suicide bombers.”

“Furthermore, King Abdullah, in a clear gesture of carelessness to Israel, has extended his condolences to the family and followers of Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, Hizbullah’s spiritual leader who passed away recently,” Zahran states in highlighting recent Jordanian sentiment towards Israel.

Zahran then endeavors into an opinionated analysis of “East-West Bank Jordanian” dynamics, highlighting what he views as outright deprivation of basic rights against Jordanians of Palestinian descent.

“The causes of Jordan’s recent line of official hostility toward Israel are deep-rooted in the makeup of the Jordanian state itself. Jordan is a country with a Palestinian majority which allows them little or no involvement in any political or executive bodies or parliament,” he wrote.

He adds that “[T]his lack of political and legislative representation of Jordanians of Palestinian heritage has been enforced by decades of systematic exclusion in all aspects of life expanding into their disenfranchisement in education, employment, housing, state benefits and even business potential, all developing into an existing apartheid no different than that formerly adopted in South Africa, except for the official acknowledgement of it.”

Zahran describes that this “well-established apartheid system” has created “substantial” advantages for East Banker “who dominate all senior government and military jobs, along with tight control of security agencies, particularly the influential Jordanian General Intelligence Department, all resulting in tribal Jordanians gaining superiority over their fellow citizens of Palestinian heritage.”

He finds that the “helpless Palestinian majority” has no say and very little it can do in the face of systematic disenfranchisement practiced by the Jordanian state, which seeks to maintain the status quo and work on extending “East Banker’s” superiority over their fellow Palestinian Jordanians.

Zahran adds: “The East Bankers’ desire to keep their privileges has gone unchallenged until recent years, when the international community mentoring the peace process has brought into its dynamics one of Jordan’s most critical commitments of the peace treaty with Israel, by which Jordan is obligated to negotiate the conditions of the displaced individuals from both sides.”

“When Jordanians of Palestinian heritage moved to Jordan in 1967, they were Jordanian citizens legally relocating inside their own country as Jordan had declared the West Bank a part of the Hashemite kingdom 19 years earlier. Therefore, the Palestinians’ move to Jordan was similar to an American’s move from New York to New Jersey,” Zahran says.

Zahran expresses that the fact that the Jordanian state had to absorb the Palestinians, who were then citizens of the same state, a fact that stipulates equal rights and entitlement to political representation, which the Jordanian government found “hard to absorb.”

“Such concept would have shaken the privileged ruling elite and has been confronted by a dramatic rise in radical nationalism among East Bankers and extensive support of the apartheid policies of the government that pushes Palestinians to believe they should return to “Palestine” as their home country,” he adds.

Zahran goes further to blast East Bankers’ hostility towards Israel with dedication to “liberating Palestine” and using that as a pretext to “further exclude the Jordanians of Palestinian heritage with calls for “a universal denaturalization to put pressure on Israel. Such calls have been emphasized and publicized by the media, which are tightly controlled by Jordanian intelligence.”

He further claims that “the radical nationalists went as far as aligning themselves with Islamists to defend their cause, as both call for turning Jordanians of Palestinian heritage into refugees rather than citizens.”

“The anti-Palestinian/anti-Israeli conservative nationalist political salons in Amman have been calling for threatening Israel with what they describe as the Palestinian demographic bomb by sending the Palestinians to Israel,” he adds.

Zahran warns that the trend of “radical nationalists” viewing the process of stripping Palestinian in Jordan of their citizenship as a “victory” is a trend that “poses serious threat to regional stability and Israeli national security.”

He adds that this “threat” is something that the Jordanian state itself is subscribing to by sustaining the ongoing process of “denaturalization” on an official level.

“Jordan cannot maintain its apartheid policies. The international community must make it clear to Jordan that both peace and integration of its own citizens are not privileges it is giving away to Israel or any other country,” he concludes.




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