A guest post by AKUS
The 100 or so people who wasted their money flying to Amman, Jordan last week found a few surprises when they arrived there. They may have also learned a few lessons about the reality regarding Jordan’s view of the Palestinian issue and how foreign interference is viewed by an Arab country whose relationship with the Palestinians has been uneasy, to say the least.
Lesson 1: Jordan has little patience for these stunts. Unlike the participants in the flytilla, Jordanians and Israelis cannot pack up and fly home after appearing on TV. They have to live there as neighbors.
According to Lebanese cyberpaper Naaharnet, Jordan made sure that they could not cross into the West Bank at the Allenby Crossing, leading to an accusation – perhaps true – that Jordan did not want to make Israel responsible for turning the participants in the flytilla back.
Jordan on Sunday barred pro-Palestinian U.S. and European activists from trying to cross into the West Bank for delivering school supplies to students.
“Two buses carrying 100 activists were not allowed to leave the Jordanian side” of Allenby Bridge Crossing, also known as King Hussein Bridge between the West Bank and Jordan, Walid Atallah, a spokesman for the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign in Jordan, told Agence France Presse.
“The Jordanian authorities stamped their passports and charged them fees and everything was okay. When the buses left, the last checkpoint on the Jordanian side was closed. No reason was given.”
Atallah said the “activists left the buses and started to demonstrate near the checkpoint. One of them fainted and was taken to hospital.”
“This was deliberate. Jordan did not want Israel to be held responsible for denying the activists entry,” he added. [emphasis added]
Lesson 2: Jordan, like other Arab states, is not very accommodating to the Palestinians. Even so, Palestinians are in no hurry to exercise the “Right of Return” to Gaza.
Elder of Zion noted that one group, “EuroPalestine” discovered apartheid in Jordan. They paid a visit to a refugee township at Jerash and found things rather different than they may have anticipated:
A hundred men, women and children, from the mission WELCOME TO PALESTINE went Saturday to the Palestinian refugee camp of JERASH, Jordan, near Amman.
They were warmly welcomed by officials and residents of this camp which includes more than 35,000 Palestinians from all of the Gaza Strip.
These people have a special place in the tragedy of the Palestinian people and in fact arrived in Jordan after the 1967 war, not during the Nakba of 1948, and have a status of “displaced” and not “refugees”.
Grouped in an area of 75 hectares, the 3000 Jerash families have no nationality and no longer receive any benefits since 2010 from UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees. [emphasis added]
These stateless people are refused citizenship by Jordan, but do not want to return to Gaza (so much for the “Right of Return” in practice!). In addition, they are treated, in many respects, as non-Whites were in apartheid South Africa:
The only camp school is obliged to accommodate 6400 pupils, part-time only, in overcrowded classrooms as we imagine. The camp has indeed no right to construct new buildings and expand on the land leased by UNRWA for a period of 99 years.
Even after graduation, students who have received scholarships to go to the Dalhousie University in Jordan can not engage in employment in the public [sector] and remain stateless for life.
As EoZ observed:
Yes, an Arab from Yemen or Egypt can become a citizen of Jordan, but one from Gaza cannot. Sounds like apartheid to me.
Lesson 3: Protests against the Israeli Embassy are not tolerated in Jordan
The Jordan Times reports that “Activists from the ‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign were dispersed by police while demonstrating outside the Israeli embassy on Thursday after refusing to relocate.”
The activists were protesting against Israel’s decision to deny them entry to the West Bank last week.
The police asked the activists to move to a different location farther from the embassy, but they refused, and when police officers arrived to physically remove them, some sat or lay down on the ground.
Olivia Zemore, the campaign’s spokesperson, told The Jordan Times that the protesters had decided to relocate to the Kalouti Mosque, around 400 metres away, where Jordanian activists were holding a weekly pro-Palestine demonstration.
“We were not allowed to protest here and that is why we are marching to the Kalouti Mosque, where there are Jordanian protesters.”
The demonstrators who refused to move were placed in police vans and driven to the alternate site; none were arrested.
See Lesson 1 – Jordan has little patience for these stunts. This is not London where protesters can spend an afternoon hurling abuse at Israel outside the embassy there. Perhaps, also, the Jordanians felt that things might get out of hand if, say, the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood joined in.
Lesson 4 is yet to be learned: Egypt, not just Israel, also blocks access to Gaza.
The activists are planning an attempt to enter Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt sometime this year.
Sinai residents have reported to Ahram Online that heavy machinery of the state-owned Arab Contractors company is being used to destroy tunnels linking Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip. The destruction of the tunnels is happening under the supervision of Egyptian military forces.
Egyptian authorities on Monday announced the closure of the Rafah Crossing.
According to Khaled Abu Toameh, even the Palestinian Authority wants to limit access to Gaza:
For first time, PA publicly calls for destruction of underground tunnels to Gaza, asking Egypt to them to tighten blockade.
Buoyed by growing tensions between Hamas and Cairo in wake of last week’s terrorist attack in Sinai, the Palestinian Authority on Saturday called on the Egyptians to tighten the blockade on Gaza by destroying all tunnels under their border with the Strip.
Oh dear. It sounds like a new floptilla will be a rerun of the 2010 flop:
The Respect MP Galloway, declared “persona non grata” by the Egyptian foreign ministry, arrived back in the UK at around 1pm.
Even after the disastrous Arab Spring, I would bet that foreigners trying to get to Gaza through Egypt will have no better luck with the new administration. People in the Middle East have simply had enough of being a backdrop for these egotistical publicity seekers.
But will all this be enough to dissipate the desire among well-fed Westerners to participate in more of these flops? Will it ever dawn on these Israel-bashing monomaniacs that the situation of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank is immeasurably better than their situation under the rule of their Arab brothers or Hamas?
Unfortunately I doubt it, but whatever the enthusiasm outside the Middle East for these stunts, the countries in the Middle East have had enough.