Jordan's Crackdown on Activists Sends Wrong Message to Israel

Category: World Affairs Topics: Conflicts And War, Foreign Policy, Jordan, Occupation, Palestine Views: 1108

At a time when Israel continues to stage war crimes against Palestinian civilians, Jordan continues to stage dawn raids against the country's most respected activists. Seven recently apprehended activists are members of the Professional Unions Association (PUA), and leading members at the Anti-Normalization Committee, which strongly opposes Jordan's ties with Israel.

While the arrests were a painful reminder of Jordan's failure to reflect the aspirations of their people, they provided Israel with a badly needed morale boost.

Those arrested included Ali Abu Sukar, leader of the Anti-Normalization Committee, established shortly after the 1994 Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty. It now boasts a membership of nearly 120,000 members, most of whom are engineers, doctors and lawyers.

Considering the viable support exhibited by the Jordanian people for the Palestinian cause throughout the years, the peace treaty undermined their hopes.

In past years, Jordanian companies, despite anti-Israeli sentiment in the country, sought business alliances with Israeli counterparts. Years later, even the economic prosperity is now becoming just another shallow peace fantasy. In recent months, over 50 Jordanian companies dropped their Israeli partnerships and looked to Iraq for genuine opportunities.

But the economy was the last concern for most Jordanians. The Palestinian people's uprising came to legitimize the anti-Israeli efforts, calling on Arab countries to set their priorities straight. It indeed exposed the Israeli government for what it is: a host to war criminals who carelessly violate human rights.

The anti-normalization movement in Jordan, which had already gained a solid ground of support, was embraced by more ordinary Jordanians, who felt that the least they can do was to reject Israeli products and to cut their ties with the Jewish state, which has proven by its recent actions over the last four months that it is a true enemy.

Unfortunately, the Jordanian government was little interested in harming its relations with Israel, relations that have already provided Jordan with a free-trade agreement with the world's only superpower, the United States.

Jordan appeared divided between a government that sees no harm in befriending Israel, and a nation bewildered by Israel's massacres and their government's apathy.

The Jordanian Authorities prohibited even peaceful protests, where people often vented their anger. Jordanians were told that their demonstrations are a threat to security.

Weeks passed by as Jordanians helplessly watched television images of dying Palestinians, the destruction of homes and trees in the West Bank and desecration of Jerusalem by Sharon. They were ordered to stay home, not to exhibit their anger, and to remain silent.

But they simply could not, not only because great segments of the Jordanian people are from Palestinian origins, but also due to the fact that the religious and ethnic ties between the two nations are much stronger than government orders.

The Anti-Normalization Committee's activists continued to convey their message, creating awareness to the wrongs of consuming Israeli products that profit Israel's government and army. Yet many Jordanian companies and influential individuals continued to deal with Israel as if nothing had happened to the Palestinians.

The Jordanian people felt compelled to escalate the protest of their government's ties with Israel. On November 18 and January 21, the committee, headed by Abu-Sukar, released two lists that contained a total of 90 names of those who advocated cross-cultural and economic ties with Israel under the peace treaty.

The step was meant to be a reminder that the people are not blind to the actions of a few. But despite the popular support, which the anti-normalization movement enjoyed, the authorities decided to bring an end to their outspokenness and steadfastness.

A few days before the arrests, Jordan's Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb warned that the committee's action could harm the economy and discourage economic ties with Israel.

The country's economic interests eventually prevailed over its people's dignity, as the activists were taken before dawn to prison.

The official Petra news agency said that those arrested where affiliated with an "illegitimate and unlicensed organization."

Undoubtedly, the Anti-Normalization Committee's mission reflects the aspirations of most of the Jordanian people, regardless of their political affiliation or background.

The Jordanian people need no governmental license to provide them with legitimacy so that they can point a finger at those who help to persecute them and undermine their dignity.


Ramzy Baroud is a free-lance journalist living in Seattle, Washington and is a weekly columnist for

  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: Conflicts And War, Foreign Policy, Jordan, Occupation, Palestine
Views: 1108

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