During the past two years, delegations of senior American and European officials have come in an endless stream to Jordan in an attempt to convince the king to change the Jordanian election law so that the Muslim Brotherhood would agree to take part in elections and even to achieve positive results in them. However, meetings with the king are not enough for the Americans and Europeans: their ambassadors and representatives meet continually with the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, whether in capitals of the United States or in Jordan, and the king is forced to swallow this insult.
The king’s suspicions of the Muslim Brotherhood are very well based: for several years now, the slogan “the alternative homeland” has been part of the public discourse in Jordan. The slogan refers to the desire to overthrow the Hashemite monarchy, which Britain imported from the Hijaz 90 years ago, and to return Jordan to its original residents, who are divided generally into two main parts: a) a minority of desert dwelling Bedouins, most of whom live in permanent settlements that they moved into over the years while conserving their traditional culture and language, and b) the majority, who are Palestinian farmers and city dwellers, whose language and culture is different from that of the Bedouins. The Bedouin population lives mainly south and east of Amman, while the Palestinian population lives north of Amman for the most part. The Jordanian term “Palestinian,” does not refer to residents of the part of the Land of Israel that is West of the Jordan River, but to those indigenous residents of northwest Jordan who call themselves “Palestinians,” adopting the name from the British Mandate for Palestine-Israel, since they do not want to be called Bedouins.
Additional Palestinians should be added to this group, some of whom are refugees from 1948 and some of whom moved from Israel and from Judea and Samaria to Jordan, for various reasons over the years. All have Jordanian citizenship, and therefore according to the rules of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees, they are not refugees, despite the fact that UNWRA considers them to be.
The “Palestinian” indigenous residents of Jordan are not interested in what happens West of the Jordan Valley, and they silently tolerate the coalition of the Hashemite Monarchy with the local Bedouins. The Palestinian refugees live quietly, in general, and do not make political demands, because they still remember Black September (September 1970), when – under the leadership of Yassir Arafat – they tried to establish a Palestinian terror state within the state of Jordan and King Hussein responded by slaughtering thousands of them.
Now, in the wake of the “Arab Spring,” winds of change and revision are beginning to blow in Jordan as well, and the largest and most organized body involved is the Muslim Brotherhood, which has many supporters among all of the Palestinian groups: the indigenous Jordanians, and the refugees and the emigres from West of the Jordan River, who support the Brotherhood mainly because they present a challenge to the Hashemite monarchy. For some years now, the Palestinians have been talking about “the alternative homeland,” meaning that they hope to establish a Palestinian state on the land that is now Jordan, whether by dividing the state into a Bedouin state in the southeast and a Palestinian state in the north of Jordan, or by taking over the whole state by means of elections or by violence.
The Brotherhood in Jordan has been attempting for some time to organize demonstrations and set up protest tents in one of the town squares of Amman, but the kingdom’s security forces – composed mostly of Bedouins – do not allow them to do it. The Brotherhood tends to boycott the elections for parliament because they do not want to play the king’s “pseudo-democratic” and “pseudo-legitimate” game. It is a game because after all, no one can legally remove the king from his post. He attempts to convince the Brotherhood to participate in the elections by throwing them bones in the form of government jobs.
Paradoxically, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and the Israeli Right have similar interests: both sides want a Palestinian state, not the Hashemite monarchy, to be established in Jordan, and therefore both call for overthrowing the Hashemite monarchy and cancelling the peace agreement between Israel and the King of Jordan that was signed in October 1994. The Israeli Right objects to the monarchy’s authority over the Temple Mount granted to it by the peace agreement, and the Brotherhood sees the agreement as a betrayal of the Palestinians, the Arabs and the Islamists, and an insurance policy for the Hashemite family’s regime in Jordan. That is why King Abdullah has become the greatest supporter of the establishment of a state of Palestine in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, so that he can claim that Jordan is Jordan, Palestine is West of the Jordan River, and anyone who wants to live in Palestine should emigrate to the area west of the Jordan River.
About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.
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