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8 August 2019

Do zealot Jews have aspirations in Jordan?

By: Daoud Kuttab
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The idea that after the signing of the Israel-Jordan peace agreement, Jewish zealots’ aspirations in Jordanian lands would surface would have been dismissed years ago. It should still be dismissed. But the reality is that the current leaders in Tel Aviv and Washington have done little to calm jittery Jordanians and Palestinians, who are concerned about the growth of messianic Jewish ideology that tries to connect biblical history with modern day politics.

In recent months alone, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon waved a copy of the Holy Bible and said that this is what justifies Israel’s right to “all” Palestinian land. Speaking at none other than the United Nations Security Council this past May, the representative of a secular Israeli party stated “this is the deed to our land”.

The words of the Israeli ambassador might have been forgotten had it stood at that, but then a number of US officials chimed in. US Vice President Mike Pence and fellow Christian Zionist Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, both regularly praise Israel and its divine right to Palestinian lands. "As a Christian, I certainly believe that's possible," the secretary of state said when asked whether the president had an explicitly divine mission to save Israel.

These statements were not restricted to religious settings or political conferences, but have been converted into real policies carried out zealously and brutally by Israel, which uses them to advance its warped vision of the historic rights of Jews. When Israeli archeologists found an old sewage tunnel under the Palestinian town of Silwan, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and President Donald Trump’s adviser Jared Kushner were called in and asked to bring their sledge hammers to help make the last push in the tunnel. The president’s advisor does not waste a single visit to Jerusalem without stopping by at the Western Wall and making a statement while there.

The right of people to have their own beliefs and faith is sacred, but the optics send a terribly worrying message.

The attempts by zealous religious Israeli Jews to sing and pray at a mosque dedicated to prophet Aaron, captured on video, infuriated Jordanians and led to the closure of the sight and the detention of the guard responsible for its management. No one knows if the brother of Moses is buried in that location, nor should it matter. Religious sites should be respected, and freedom of worship and visit should not be interfered in, but the problem that faces political leaders and government officials is how to deal with the genuine worry that what appears to be a crazy notion by a few zealous individuals could one day become a political reality.

When the Israeli ambassador to the UN waves the Bible, talking about God-given deed to the land, Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour warned the assembly: “Israel’s expansionist appetite is growing, and it is insatiable.”

These are not normal times. Within a short period of time, the US moved its embassy in violation of agreements, a senior US official has said at the UN that America does not accept international law and international consensus in regards to the Middle east, the Golan Heights annexation was recognised, hundreds of unarmed Palestinians are being killed on the borders of Gaza, tens of homes are being destroyed, five-year-old children are being summoned to Israeli police and not a word comes out of the White House or the State Department. One clearly gets the clear message that Israel can do what it wants and no one would protest.

No wonder Prime Minister Omar Razzaz asked for a review of the movie “Jaber” that some say includes hints of Jewish historical role in parts of south Jordan.

This situation will not last, but until this wave is over, it is incumbent on all to stay vigilant.

* A Palestinian columnist based in Amman, Jordan. - dkuttab@ammannet.net

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