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Uri Avnery: The Kings Speech

Uri Avnery: The Kings Speech

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Published by Paul V. Cassidy
After taking a breaking from posting and commenting on the occupation of Palestine pending the outcome of the UN vote on Palestinian Statehood I've decided to take up here again and have attached an extended comment to this piece by Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom. Uri's piece is a response to what he refers to as:
'..the hyperactive and mentally handicapped right wing parliamentary thugs submitted another of those bills. It is called “Jordan – the Nation-State of the Palestinian People'.
After taking a breaking from posting and commenting on the occupation of Palestine pending the outcome of the UN vote on Palestinian Statehood I've decided to take up here again and have attached an extended comment to this piece by Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom. Uri's piece is a response to what he refers to as:
'..the hyperactive and mentally handicapped right wing parliamentary thugs submitted another of those bills. It is called “Jordan – the Nation-State of the Palestinian People'.

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Published by: Paul V. Cassidy on Dec 06, 2011
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12/06/2011

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The King’s Speech - Gush Shalom - Israeli Peace Bloc
 
 
The King’s Speech
 
03/12/11
 
IN THE middle of the '80s, a German diplomatconveyed to me a surprising message. Amember of the Jordanian Royal family wouldlike to speak with me in Amman. At the time,Jordan was still officially at war with us.
 IN THE middle of the '80s, a German diplomat conveyed to me asurprising message. A member of the Jordanian Royal familywould like to speak with me in Amman. At the time, Jordan was stillofficially at war with us.Somehow I obtained official permission from the Israeligovernment. The Germans generously provided me with apassport that was not strictly accurate, and so, with much turningof blind eyes, I arrived in Amman and was lodged in the best hotel.The news of my presence spread quickly, and after some days itbecame an embarrassment to the Jordanian government. So I waspolitely asked to leave, and very quickly, please.But before that, a high-ranking official invited me to dinner in a veryelegant restaurant. He was a well educated, very cultured person,who spoke beautiful English. To my utter amazement, he told methat he was a Bedouin, a member of an important tribe. All myideas about Bedouins were shattered in that moment.This dinner stuck in my memory because, in (literally) ten minutes,I learned more about Jordan than in decades of reading. My hosttook a paper napkin and drew a rough map of Jordan. “Look at ourneighbors,” he explained. “Here is Syria, a radical secular Ba’athistdictatorship. Then there is Iraq, with another Ba’athist regime thathates Syria. Next there is Saudi Arabia, a very conservative,orthodox country. Next is Egypt, with a pro-Western militarydictator. Then there is Zionist Israel. In the occupied Palestinianterritories, radical, revolutionary elements are in the ascent. Andalmost touching us, there is fragmented, unpredictable Lebanon.”“From all these countries,” he continued, “refugees, agents andideological influences stream into Jordan. We have to absorb all ofthem. We have to perform a very delicate balancing act. If wecome too close to Israel, the next day we must appease Syria. Ifone day we embrace Saudi Arabia, we must kiss Iraq the next. Wemust not ally ourselves with any one.”Another impression I took with me - the Palestinians in Jordan(excluding the refugees, whom I did not meet) are perfectly contentwith the status quo, dominating the economy, getting rich and
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The King’s Speech - Gush Shalom - Israeli Peace Bloc
praying for the stability of the regime.I WISH that all influential Israelis had received such an eye-opening lesson, because in Israel, the most grotesque ideas aboutJordan were – and still are - in vogue.The general picture is that of a ridiculous little country, ruled byfierce and primitive Bedouin tribes, while the majority consists ofPalestinians who are continually plotting to overthrow themonarchy and assume power.(Which reminds me of another conversation – this time in Cairowith the – then - acting Foreign Minister, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, aCopt and one of the most intelligent persons I’ve ever met. “Israeliexperts in Arab affairs are among the best in the world,” he toldme, “they have read everything, they know everything, and theyunderstand nothing. That’s because they have never lived in anArab country.”)Until the Oslo agreement, the entire Israeli elite subscribed to the“Jordanian Option”. The idea was that only King Hussein was ableand ready to make peace with us and that he would give us EastJerusalem and parts of the West Bank as a present. Hiding behindthis misconception was the traditional Zionist resolve to ignore theexistence of the Palestinian people and to prevent the creation of aPalestinian state at all costs.Another version of this idea rests on the slogan “Jordan isPalestine”. It was explained to me by Ariel Sharon, nine monthsbefore Lebanon War I. “We shall throw the Palestinians out ofLebanon into Syria. The Syrians will push them South into Jordan.There they shall overthrow the king and turn Jordan into Palestine.The Palestinian problem will disappear, and the remaining conflictwill become a normal disagreement between two sovereign states,Israel and Palestine.”“But what about the West Bank?” I queried.“We shall achieve a compromise with Jordan,” he answered,“perhaps joint rule, perhaps some kind of functional division.”This idea pops up time and again. This week one of thehyperactive and mentally handicapped right wing parliamentarythugs submitted another of those bills. It is called “Jordan – theNation-State of the Palestinian People”.Apart from the curiosity of one country enacting a law to define thecharacter of another country, it was politically embarrassing. Yetinstead of just throwing it out, it was transferred to a sub-committeewhere the deliberations, such as they are, are secret.HIS MAJESTY, king Abdullah II, is worried. He has good reasonsto be.There is the democratic Arab Spring, which may spill over into his
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The King’s Speech - Gush Shalom - Israeli Peace Bloc
autocratic kingdom. There is the uprising in neighboring Syria,which may push refugees southwards. There is the growinginfluence of Shiite Iran, which does not look good for his stoutlySunni monarchy.But all this is nothing compared to the growing threat from radical,rightist Israel.The most immediate danger, from his point of view, is the growingIsraeli oppression and colonization of the West Bank. One of thesedays, it may push masses of Palestinian refugees to cross theJordan into his kingdom, upsetting the strained demographicbalance between locals and Palestinians in his country.It was this fear that caused his father, King Hussein, during the firstintifada, to cut all connections with the West Bank, which had beenannexed by his grandfather after the 1948 war. (The very term“West Bank” is Jordanian, to distinguish it from the East Bank, theoriginal Transjordanian territory of the kingdom.)If “Jordan is Palestine”, then there is no reason for Israel not toannex the West Bank, expropriate Palestinian lands, enlarge theexisting settlements and create new ones, and in general“convince” Palestinians to find a better life east of the river.With this in mind, the king voiced his anxiety in a much-publicizedinterview this week. In it, he raised the possibility of a federationbetween Jordan and the (still occupied) State of Palestine in theWest Bank, obviously to forestall Israeli designs. Perhaps he alsowants to convince the Palestinians that such a move would helpthem to terminate the occupation, facilitate their application for UNmembership and prevent a US veto. (I don’t believe this offer willfind many Palestinian takers.)THE INITIATORS of the Israeli bill make it clear that their mainpurpose is Hasbarah (“explaining”), the Hebrew euphemism forpropaganda. Their idea, they believe, will put an end to theisolation and delegitimization of Israel. The world will accept thatthe State of Palestine already exists, beyond the Jordan, so thatthere is no need for a second one in the West Bank.If His Majesty suspects that there is a much more sinisterdimension to the propaganda ploy, he is quite right. Obviously heis thinking about much more profound long-term possibilities.This goes back to the basic dilemma of the Israeli right, a dilemmathat seems well-nigh insoluble.The Israeli Right has never really given up the idea of a GreaterIsrael (which in Hebrew is called “the whole of Eretz-Israel”). Thismeans the total rejection of the Two-State solution in all its formsand the creation of a Jewish state from the Mediterranean Sea tothe Jordan River.However, in such a state there would be living, as of today, some 6
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