The “moderate,” “peaceful” Jordanian government recently staged a major military exercise. Guess which “friend” and “peace partner” was the target in the simulated battle?
No, it wasn’t Syria or Iran. It was Israel.
Despite having a peace treaty with Israel for 25 years, despite everything we constantly hear about how King Abdullah II is a peace-loving moderate, there he was, proudly presiding over a military simulation that envisioned armed conflict with Israel, which the Jordanians refer to as “the Occupying State.”
The simulation was named “Swords of Karama.” An interesting choice of name! It refers to an Israeli military action against a Fatah terrorist base near the Jordanian village of Karama in 1968.
You would think the “moderate” Jordanians would be grateful for Israel’s help in stamping out terrorists in their midst. But no. The Jordanians see the terrorists as their brothers and the Israelis as their enemies. Even though more than 50 years have passed since this incident, Jordan is still seething with resentment that Israel took action against Palestinian terrorists whom it was harboring.
These men actually belonged to the same group that two years later tried to overthrow Abdullah II’s father, King Hussein. But this fact seems to have been forgotten.
Jordan’s soft spot for Palestinian terrorists was on full display in another episode this past month. Israel captured two Jordanian citizens who crossed into Israel illegally after having met with Hezbollah terrorist agents in Lebanon. “Moderate” Abdullah should have thanked Israel for catching them. Instead, Jordan denounced the arrest, demanded the release of the terrorists, and recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv in protest.
And, of course, there is the outrageous case of mass murderer Ahlam al-Tamimi, a Palestinian terrorist with Jordanian citizenship, who played a major role in the bombing of a Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem in 2001. Fifteen people were slaughtered in the attack, including American citizens Malki Roth and Shoshana Greenbaum.
Tamimi was captured by the Israelis, tried, and convicted, but served just eight years in prison before being released in an Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange. The U.S. government has asked Jordan for her extradition so she can be put on trial here. Wouldn’t “moderate” Abdullah want to see this terrorist behind bars?
Apparently not. The Jordanian government not only has refused to hand her over, but it gave Tamimi her own television show, on which she has boasted about her role in the Sbarro massacre.
Peace between countries has to begin with the nations’ leaders. Presidents – or kings – have to set the tone if public attitudes are to change. They have to use their powers of persuasion, through all the media channels available to them, to influence the masses.
The peace treaty that King Hussein signed with Israel in 1994, and which Abdullah is bound to uphold, requires the government to cease hostile propaganda against the Jewish state. But it has done nothing of the sort. Indeed, a man in Jordan was recently convicted of planning to massacre the staff members at the Israeli embassy in Amman. He received what was essentially a slap on the wrist – eight years in prison – a term that he will undoubtedly not serve in full.
Now here’s where it gets really interesting. According to Ma’an, one of the major news agencies in PA territories, the Jordanian State Security Court noted in its ruling that the terrorist “obtained a fatwa from religious leaders permitting the operation.”
Get that? Twenty-five years after “peace” was agreed upon, the Jordanian leadership has done so little to encourage peaceful attitudes among its citizens that religious leaders in the country still grant official permission to carry out the mass murder of Jews.
Last month, a Jewish-supported think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, honored King Abdullah at its gala. Big mistake. The Institute’s leaders may think that if they praise and embrace Abdullah, he will reciprocate their overtures. But Abdullah’s track record proves that he regards the peace treaty with Israel as little more than a temporary armistice, something that is convenient but need not be taken too seriously.
I know many will be quick to argue that the Israelis have a close private security relationship with Abdullah and they have to keep him in power. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t; count me skeptical.
Honoring Abdullah only reinforces his perception that there will be no consequences for his anti-Israel actions – that Jews will keep praising him no matter what. He needs to hear the opposite – that friends of Israel will no longer pretend that he’s a moderate when his actions show that he is anything but.