Jordan and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

While Jordan engages in normalization with Israel, it does not engage in neutralization. Please, do not confuse the two; the feelings, emotions, views, and motivations of the Jordanian people and their leadership remain the same: in full support of the Palestinians, we discovered, however, that our pro-Palestinian message and efforts are best conveyed in an atmosphere of peace and dialogue.

This one has been on my mind for a while. The current political situation in the Middle East is one of the topics I’m truly interested in, and I’ve been writing numerous posts related to the issue. One thing that caught me attention was that I was addressing a lot of Arab concerns against Israel and its regime (which I firmly believe in), and in so forgot to address my personal concerns about Arabic politics when it comes to the conflict.

I also decided to write this after a long conversation I had with a friend (whose also Arab) who believes that Jordanian politics regarding the issue, especially the 1994 Wadi `Araba Treaty, indicates that Jordan (or the government/king) has – in a sense – betrayed The Cause and other Arab countries.

I think that’s a completely wrong approach, and I believe the truth is that Jordan is a pioneer in seeking peace, and a Just Solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Had other Arab countries followed Jordan’s footsteps in large, then Arabs would’ve done their part in promoting a just peace, and stability in the region would’ve been a much more probable reality.

Since I think such belief that Jordan went against the Palestinian Cause (and Pan-Arab Values, fraternity, and unity) is utterly misconceived on numerous levels, I find it hard to find where to start. This is why I’ll divide the post into separate arguments that will hopefully complement each other.

(The outline is basically as follows: 1: Jordan was not alone in pursuing peace in the 1990’s, 2: Jordan did not go against Palestine, 3: While Jordan has peace, Jordan is not a neutral nation, 4: Other Cases of Jordanian Commitment to the Pan-Arab Cause).

1) Jordan was not alone in pursuing peace in the 1990’s

King Hussein of Jordan had Middle East peace aspirations even before the war of 1967. That did not stop him, or the country, from being properly aligned with the Arabs in the war of 1967, where Jordan, lead by King Hussein, entered a full-force war against Israel, and lost a considerable amount of land from the West Bank, which, at the time, was part of the Kingdom of Jordan. (Many people have doubts about Hussein’s intentions in the 1967 war, these will be discussed in future articles). As a matter of fact, while King Hussein talked to Israelis (as did Egyptian, Lebanese, and Syrian officials), he only allowed such talks to translate into a treaty much later on.

While Anwar El-Sadat was alone in signing a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, King Hussein’s 1994 treaty happened in a different light that Arabs of today forget: Continue reading “Jordan and the Arab-Israeli Conflict”

The Goldstone Report: a Defining Moment in U.S. Foreign Policy?

I’ve been enthusiastic about Barrack Obama since the U.S. elections, and I have always had a good feeling about the type of change we might witness in the rest of the world. Such enthusiasm was rewarded during Obama’s speech to the Muslim world, where it became evident that – according to U.S. claims – the United States intends to become more fair, balanced, and open in their foreign policy. My enthusiasm was rewarded further during Obama’s United Nations speech, and most recently, the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. Suddenly, enthusiasm and hope evolved into an expectation of the inevitable: sometime soon, the U.S. will take a big step that changes the dynamics of International Relations within the International Community; I felt it was inevitable that – soon – the U.S. will transform to a “cooperator” in international relations after decades of being a “barrier” that waves that veto banner every time something of substance was about to happen.

Such expectation has come under test in the final few days with the Goldstone Report. Richard Goldstone, a South African Constitutional Court judge, has been appointed to head the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, to investigate the issue of war crimes in the 2008-2009 Gaza War, in particular the issue of War Crimes by Israel against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. You can see my opinion on the Gaza War here.

The Fact Finding Mission concluded that both Israel and Hamas are guilty of war crimes, but with Israel getting the majority of the criticism. According to Goldstone, the report is completely objective and challenged all critics to point out what exactly about the report makes it biased, and to date, no critic responded with a specific complaint about bias.

For me, criticizing the report, (like what Israel has been doing), is similar to having Neo-Nazis say modern accounts of holocaust history are biased because the majority of the crimes they mention are by Nazis; of course they are – because factually, they were responsible for the most crimes! The same applies to Israel in this case: of course Israel is criticized the most in the report for war crimes; they killed 1,417 Palestinians, including 925 civilians, while Hamas was only responsible for killing 13 Israelis, of which 3 are civilians. Who is the offender? Who should be punished more? Jee, I don’t know.

Anyways, also quick to criticize the Goldstone Report, was the U.S., whom criticized the mission for reasons similar in baselessness and content to Israel’s own. The U.S. says the report is harsh towards Israel but provides no evidence on any instance in which the report was factually biased or omitted.

So here’s the deal, the U.S. veto superpower and its close ally Israel are the only two nations who oppose the report. By induction from observations from throughout the last decade, one might expect that it is inevitable that the U.S. will veto any decision regarding holding Israel accountable to the war crimes it has committed (according the UN mission report). Such expectation is reinforced by Israel’s own claimed, who say Hillary Clinton “promised Israel” to veto any decision against Israel that can occur as a consequence of the mission’s findings.

If that is true, then I’ll be disgusted and disappointed. Vetoing a decision that has been adopted by every single other country in the world because shows that the U.S. has not changed its thinking. In other words, a veto against a decision that holds Israel accountable to crimes it committed means that Obama is not serious in caring about “Palestinian children growing up in peace”. It also means that the little girl in Gaza who died on the hands of Israel’s war crimes isn’t worth a change. Most importantly, a veto by the U.S. would mean Israeli war crimes can repeat themselves; it is an unpunishable offense that is acceptable.

Israeli children will grow up in peace, as they always have. Their largest fear will be some image they saw on TV which they have no personal experience with. Israel will continue to grow, and socioeconomic life will be fine as always. If that’s all that the U.S. cares about, then I understand the sentiment behind possibly vetoing holding Israel accountable.

If however, I am correct in my enthusiasm… If the U.S. is really serious about the change… If Barrack Obama’s words about wishing for Palestinian and Israeli children to grow up in peace alike are truly serious… then, they must acknowledge that passing such decision will put an end to social injustice, and Palestinian children will finally begin to have security.

How wonderful a world would it be if all children growing up, across all continents and countries alike, would realize that if any entity is to offend or oppress them, justice will be served eventually.

If the new Administration agrees with such sentiments, then I needn’t worry; justice will be served, the offender will be held accountable.

Netanyahu, Tear Down this Wall!

Israel cannot rely on a right of self‑defence or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall.  The Court accordingly finds that the construction of the wall and its associated régime are contrary to international law.

International Court of Justice [1]

Why is it so that a structure proclaimed illegal (or in breach of international treaties) by the General Assembly, the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Israeli human rights groups continue construction for nearly a decade?

The “Israeli West Bank Barrier” (also known as the “security fence” by the Israelis, and the “segregation wall” by Arabs), has been in existence since the Oslo Accords in 1993. However, such barrier only transformed to be a threat to the very existence of Palestinians after the al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000.image

According to the Israeli story, the logic behind the barrier is obvious: security. The wall is aimed at reducing “Palestinian violence” and protecting citizens of the Israeli states.

That’s all fine and dandy, until we get to one stipulation: the path and structure of the wall is simply irrelevant to security. Instead of having the wall be built on the 1949 Armistice Lines (more commonly known as the Green Line), you will find the wall divergent in multiple areas, continuously annexing land from the Palestinian West Bank, essentially rendering it Israeli de facto.

Continue reading “Netanyahu, Tear Down this Wall!”

More thoughts on the Arab-Israeli Conflict

I have initially wrote when I was applying to universities as a response to one of the questions. I recently went through it and felt it was relevant to share here. Once the actual website is complete, I’ll probably have a copy of this in my ‘writings’ section. For now, here is it:

The Arab-Israeli conflict is a regional issue that has plagued over sixty years of Middle East history; nearly a hundred thousand on both sides died of direct military clashes, more died as a result of occupation and living conditions, hundreds of thousands have been injured, and millions have been deprived of their most basic rights due to this conflict. Living conditions have been deteriorating so rapidly that light and running water have become luxuries.

As an Arab Middle Easterner, it is very easy to get carried away amidst such conflict, to get carried in the current of hate, bigotry, and intolerance. How can I not take sides? How can I – when the status quo has bred such pain and agony to my people?

To be honest, I must take sides, and I do. But what I must not do is lose perspective.

When millions are suffering on both sides, it is my human compassion that wakes me up to remind me that human anguish and distress on either side is unacceptable; this is the perspective that I strive to maintain: no matter how strong my political dedication to one side is, it should never reward, justify, or even belittle the ugliness of human pain on either side of the conflict.

The problem we are currently faced with is that most people have lost that perspective; most people have lost respect to, or even acknowledgement of, the other side’s humanity. Sadly, the sixty years of conflict shaped a generation unwilling to compromise.

Continue reading “More thoughts on the Arab-Israeli Conflict”

Conflict in Gaza

As if an anti-humanitarian siege wasn’t enough, our peaceful neighbors have done it again, this time with a full-fledged war against the (people?) of the Gaza strip.

Israel – as any sovereign entity – has the right to exist, granted. Israel – as any other nation – has the right to defend itself, again: granted. But these two statements cannot justify an entire military operation with the magnitude of what is going on now, because they are irrelevant.

Is Hamas’s decision to fire al-Qassam rockets at southern Israel wrong? Sure it is. Does Israel have the right to defend itself from ‘attacks’? Yes it does. But: how can THIS be seen as a self-defense act?

From the ‘hundreds’ of Qassam rockets fired at Israel, only 3 Israeli civilians died. My deepest condolences to their families, really. But how can the death of 3 prompt a massacre being launched against Gaza? How can the death of 3 citizens justify the death of 915 from Gaza? Why is Palestinian blood being considered that cheap? Its normal for a government to value the lives of its citizens, but when 3 civilian lives are valued more than nine-hundred-something (and still rising) lives on the other side, something is unjust.

Israel isn’t attacking Hamas, its attacking the people of Gaza. Maybe it doesn’t mean to attack them – but the bottom line is: the people of Gaza are the ones suffering, so what is the point really?

Israel is breaking the Fourth Geneva Convention, which it ratified, because its military actions and hostilities are collective measures that fail to distinguish between civilians and militias (the “hostile entities”).

The head of the UNRWA in Gaza made an emotional televised appeal yesterday, I recommend you search for it.

And here’s a nice statistic: for every Israeli that dies (that is, including members of the Army), 71 Palestinians are killed by the Israeli forces in the Gaza conflict. When taking the entire Arab-Israeli conflict into consideration, Ehud Olmert states that – in 2008 – for every Israeli killed by Palestinians, 25 Palestinians were killed by Israel. TAKE THAT, Human Rights!