by Khalid Amayreh
Thursday, June 7th, 2012
Originally posted to the Palestinian Information Center
1967 – Palestinians crossing into Jordan
When Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, I was ten years old. Then, I didn’t fully grasp what was happening to us. Arab radio stations transmitting from Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad had been galvanizing us into believing that Israel’s days were numbered and that Arab nationalism, which nearly replaced Islam as our de facto religion, would soon tear up the Zionist entity into smithereens. We virtually worshipped Gamal Abdul Nasser, the legendary Egyptian president, who became a God-like figure. It was far more abominable to curse the ultimate leader of Arab nationalism, than to curse the Almighty.
So you can imagine the gigantic shock and disappointment we suffered when all of our dreams were crushed, when all these charismatic leaders proved to be little men who excelled in rhetoric but failed utterly in the confrontation with Israel.
Four years before I was born, a great calamity had befallen my family. The Israeli army murdered three of my four paternal uncles, Hussein (28), Mahmoud (25), and Yousuf (23). The three, all simple and impoverished shepherds, were grazing their flock of sheep and goats near the village of Al-Burj along the so-called armistice line, 27 kilometres south-west of the West Bank town of Hebron. Together with my three uncles, a number of other relatives, including a woman, were also shot dead.
In fact, the Israelis not only nearly wiped out my entire family, but also seized our herd, upon which our total livelihood depended to a large extent. This calamity condemned us to a life of misery and abject poverty for many years to come. The Red Cross and the Red Crescent didn’t run active services in our region at that time, so we were left to endure our fate alone. I remember my late father telling me that the Jordanian government gave us two goats free of charge, as compensation for the tragedy. My family viewed this as a kind of insult added to injury.
Thus, my family had to live in a cave for 22 years. The misery, the suffering, the poverty and the harshness of daily living were conspicuous aspects of our life. Interestingly, to this day, the Israeli government has neither apologized for the crime, nor compensated us for our stolen property. Imagine how vociferously Jews would fulminate if they were in my shoes. None the less, these self-worshiping Zionists still have the Chutzpah to accuse their victims of being “anti-Semites.”
I don’t know when these Jews will say mea culpa to their Palestinian and other victims. Perhaps when kosher pigs fly!!
Well, I do realize that it is too premature, probably naïve, to even evoke such a question. After all, Israel is still murdering Palestinian children nearly on a daily basis.
Of course, our tragedy didn’t stop at losing three men and few other relatives killed and hundreds of sheep stolen by the Israeli government. Much more had been seized from us six years earlier, in 1948, including our farming land in al-Za’ak, in what is now Israel. We were not even allowed to retrieve our belongings, such as bed coverings, household utensils and probably some money that had been left prior to the expulsion at the hands of armed Jewish gangs.
Anybody who might have tried would have been shot on the spot. I know some people who had ventured to reach their former homes just across the border, only to be shot dead after having dug their graves.
The take-no-prisoners policy was consistent with the Israeli strategy of ‘cleansing the indigenous Palestinian inhabitants’ who constituted the vast majority of the population. To further effect this criminal policy, the various Israeli gangs, which came later to form the so-called Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), committed numerous wanton massacres against the Palestinians. Some of the most infamous massacres include Deir Yassin, Dawaymeh, Tantura, Lud and Qastal, but there were many others. The atrocities, carried out wilfully, knowingly and deliberately by the Jewish leadership, were aimed at terrorizing the Palestinians into leaving. The message was as clear as it was gruesome. “If you want to stay alive, you’ve got to leave.”
Israeli propaganda would tell the world later that the ‘Arab refugees’ left their homes willingly and were not forced into leaving by the Jews. Well, this is nothing short of fornication with truth, which reflects the brutal ugliness of the Zionist mentality.
Interestingly, the Zionists continue to shamelessly generate such big lies to deceive and mislead world public opinion. I strongly believe that Zionist Jews are God’s lying people, in addition to being the Nazis of our time. They lie as often as they breathe; they murder women, children and innocent men, and then concoct lies to justify or extenuate the horror of their crimes. Some Zionists would want us to believe that Jews don’t do any wrong. Even evil acts of murder, including mass murder, are kosher since non-Jews are not bona-fide human beings. Unfortunately, this diabolically racist view is not held merely by a small unrepresentative minority; it rather represents the norm than the exception, especially among Orthodox Jews, such as the national religious sector and the Haredeem. Some influential Jewish sects, such as Chabad, are even more nefarious in their perceptions of non-Jews than the Nazi perceptions of Jews.
Luckily, some Zionists have begun of late to recognize the ignominy of their actions, but without feeling shameful or remorseful about it in any genuine manner, or indeed, without giving the slightest indication that they would be willing to reverse or undo, as much as possible, the historical injustices they meted out to the Palestinian people.
Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami wrote in a book published in 2006 that:
“The reality on the ground was that of an Arab community in a state of terror, facing a ruthless Israeli army whose path to victory was paved not only by its exploits against the regular Arab armies, but also by the intimidation and at times atrocities and massacres it perpetrated against the civilian Arab community. A panic-stricken Arab community was uprooted under the impact of massacres that would be carved into the Arab’s monument of grief and hatred.”
Under the Jordanian rule, the most important concern for the Jordanian authorities was loyalty to the King and his family. The King was nearly ‘God on earth’ and the entire country, including the media, the security forces and the people rotated around his figure. Hence, the claim often made that Jordan was a king with a country, rather than a country with a king, had a substantial degree of veracity.
Connections to the King and his Mukhabarat (or intelligence apparatus) and immediate coterie would automatically put one in a preferential position. Shouting “Ya’ish Jalalat al Malik” (Long Live The King), would give one an automatic certificate of good conduct. No wonder, it was a despotic regime based on sycophancy, favouritism, nepotism and cronyism.
The Jordanian regime never really made genuine efforts to push back recurrent Israeli incursions, forays and raids on Palestinian population centres in the West Bank, let alone liberate occupied Palestine. Indeed, the Commander-in-Chief of the Jordanian army in the late 1940s, when Israel was created, and up until March 1, 1956, was a British officer by the name of John Baggot Glubb who came to be known among Palestinians and East Jordanian Bedouins as Glubb Pasha, an honorary title. So, who in his right mind would have expected a British officer to fight the Jews on behalf of the Arabs?
As far as Palestinians were concerned, the most immediate priority for the Jordanian regime was to make sure that they and other Jordanians didn’t pose a threat to the survival, security and stability of the Hashemite monarchy. A Palestinian would get a six-month prison term if a bullet cartridge were found in his possession.
And as the Israelis would do later, the Jordanians enlisted the ‘Makhatir’ (clan notables) to inform on every gesture of opposition to or dissatisfaction with the Hashemite rule within their respective clans and areas. This in turn created a kind of police-state atmosphere all over the country.
Those free-minded Palestinians who insisted on voicing their conscience were persecuted and dumped into the notorious El-Jafr prison in eastern Jordan where they were often tortured savagely, even to death. I know of a person from my town (Dura) who was tortured to death for his affiliation with the Communist Party.
Torture is still practiced in Jordan with the knowledge, blessing and encouragement of the United States and Britain . Some of the so-called ‘terror suspects’ held by the CIA were secretly flown to Jordan in order to be ‘softened up’ by Jordanian interrogators.
In the mid1950s, the Jordanian security forces on several occasions shot and killed demonstrators who were protesting the pro-Western policies of the government and the regime’s failure and inability to stop recurrent Israeli attacks. Some of these demonstrators were affiliated with or instigated by the Ba’ath party and the Communists who openly called for overthrowing the monarchy.
As a counterbalance to the leftists, who were quite active especially in the West Bank, King Hussein allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to operate relatively freely. So it was a kind of divide-and-rule policy. The leftists would accuse the Brotherhood of being British agents and the Brotherhood would retort by accentuating the atheism of the Communists and Ba’athists. Hussein’s relations with the Brotherhood remained relatively stable until the final years of his life when he introduced the one-man-one-vote law, aimed primarily at reducing to the minimum the number of parliament seats the well-organized Islamists could win. Notwithstanding, the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Islamic Action Front, remains Jordan’s largest opposition party, despite government harassment and persecution.
The Muslim Brothers were not British agents or agents of any power. They wanted to create an Islamic state in accordance with the Sharia, or Islamic Law. In other words, their strategy and goals were diametrically incompatible with those of the Communists and the Ba’athists. Hence, the mutual sullen hostility.
However, to be honest, the Jordanian regime, especially with regard to how the state treated its citizens, was not as bad as other Arab regimes, e. g., Syria , Iraq and Egypt. In non-political and non-security matters, the rule of law was generally observed and applied. In general, an individual’s dignity was upheld as long as he or she didn’t criticize the regime or undermine the ‘security of the kingdom.’
More to the point, King Hussein was truly an astute leader. Far from behaving with vindictiveness and vengefulness toward his political opponents, even those who sought to assassinate him and overthrow his regime, The King nearly always pardoned them, showing magnanimity and gallantry unmatched in modern Arab history.
Despite its authoritarianism and despotism, the Jordanian regime never persecuted us in any way even remotely comparable to what the Nazi-like Israelis have been doing to us since 1967. The Jordanians never demolished our homes or bulldozed our farms or arrested our people for years without charge or trial as Israel has been doing to us. Yes, ‘wrongdoers’ were arrested and tried and often tortured, but their families wouldn’t be detained, their homes wouldn’t be bulldozed and their farms, orchards and olive groves wouldn’t be decimated as the Israelis routinely do. Jordan actually granted us full citizenship until the late King Hussein severed legal and administrative ties with the West Bank in 1988.
An outstanding exception occurred in 1970, during the so-called Black September events, when the Jordanian army battled with PLO guerrillas who The King claimed were planning to take over Jordan and end the monarchy. Some atrocities were committed during these confrontations and many people, Palestinians and Jordanians, were killed. Nonetheless, the ‘September events’ should be considered as a kind of anomaly in The King’s relations with the Palestinians.
In general, one can safely contend that there is no comparison between the Nazi-like Israeli occupation rule and the Jordanian era. The Jordanians were not really occupiers, they never behaved as occupiers. In many ways, The King was our king and the Kingdom was our kingdom. Yes, the regime was authoritarian and generally repressive, but, in all honesty, it cannot be compared to the Israelis whose barbarianism and savagery transcend reality.
Nonetheless, Jordan was (and still is) a weak kingdom, economically, politically and especially militarily. The Israeli army routinely carried out cross-border forays into the West Bank prior to 1967, murdering innocent Palestinian villagers, and the Jordanian army was generally too weak and two unequipped to repulse the Israeli incursions.
King Hussein must have calculated that maintaining a peaceable or even friendly modus vivendi with Israel was the best insurance policy for retaining his kingdom and the rule of his Hashemite dynasty. I think he was wrong in thinking this way. His non-hostility towards Israel didn’t prevent the Jewish state from pursuing its aggressive policies, which culminated in the occupation of the West Bank in 1967.
King Hussein did make a lot of contacts with Israel even before 1967. For example, on September 24, 1963 the director-general of the Israeli prime minister’s office, Yaacov Herzog, met the King in the London clinic of the King’s Jewish physician, Dr. Emmanuel Herbert.
Another meeting took place in Paris in 1965 and Israel was represented by Golda Meir, who was accompanied by Herzog.
It is also believed that Hussein had lots of contacts with the Israeli state through the alumni offices of Boston University.