When Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs Jumana Ghunaimat was photographed several days ago cheerfully stepping on an image of the Israeli flag at a trade union complex in Amman, she sent a clear and unmistakable message of hostility and contempt for the Jewish state.
In doing so, Ghunaimat was adding insole to injury, providing a stark glimpse of the rising tide of hatred and invective that has been swelling across the border in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Indeed, for far too long, the unelected Jordanian monarchy has been treated with kid gloves by Israel and much of the international community, which is fearful of what might replace it were the regime to collapse. But in light of Jordan’s increasing bellicosity, it is time to take a much tougher line with our neighbor to the east and demand an end to the enmity.
No less telling than Ghunaimat’s contemptible act of disrespect was the mealymouthed statement issued by Jordan’s Foreign Ministry after Israel submitted a formal protest regarding the incident.
Rather than offering an apology, the ministry spokesman issued a laconic statement merely saying that “Jordan respects the peace agreement with Israel.”
It is unclear whether he did so with a straight face. After all, if Jordanian government officials do not respect Israel or its national symbols, then to what extent can they be said to truly respect the peace agreement itself?
This episode is just the latest in a string of troubling Jordanian actions, all of which paint a sordid picture of just how far the Jordanian regime is sinking into anti-Israel extremism.
Just two weeks ago, when Palestinian terrorists carried out a series of attacks which included the murder of two Israeli soldiers and a newborn baby, Jordanian King Abdullah II inexplicably chose to blame Israel, castigating Jerusalem for undertaking efforts to hunt down the perpetrators.
“His majesty,” the Jordanian Petra news agency reported, “stressed the necessity that the international community bears its responsibilities regarding the Israeli escalation and exert all forms of pressure on Israel to halt these measures that will only lead to more violence.”
Needless to say, Abdullah neglected to offer any condemnation of Palestinian terrorism or the murder of Israeli innocents.
Incredibly, the Jordanian monarch’s tone-deaf response to anti-Israel violence came shortly after one of his own citizens carried out a terrorist attack in Eilat on November 30, when Taher Halef, brandishing a hammer, sought to bludgeon two Israeli divers to death. Halef was arrested after severely wounding the two men, and has been indicted on several counts of attempted murder along with participating in a terrorist conspiracy.
At the end of October, in yet another example of brazen rancor, Jordan stunned observers in the region when it declared that it had decided unilaterally to cancel certain clauses in the 1994 peace treaty with Israel that allowed Israeli farmers to lease land for agricultural use in two locations along the border. That is hardly the action of a neighbor that is striving to build bonds of peace.
The fact is that malice toward Israel and Jews is also something that appears regularly in Jordanian media and civil discourse. As the US State Department’s 2017 annual report on international religious freedom noted concerning Jordan, “Editorial cartoons, articles, and postings on social media continued to present negative images of Jews and to conflate anti-Israel sentiment with antisemitic sentiment. The government continued not to take action with regard to antisemitic material appearing in the media, despite laws that prohibit such material.”
HENCE, EVEN though Jordan has formally been at peace with the Jewish state for more than two decades, it appears that our neighbor to the east is shamelessly fomenting antisemitic and anti-Zionist sentiment with little regard for the potentially dire consequences.
This cannot be allowed to continue. With all due respect for Jordan’s so-called “moderating” role in the region, the regime’s actions appear to be anything from moderate and threaten to add fuel to an already combustible situation.
Fortunately, both Israel and the US have leverage with Amman. Washington provided Jordan with $1.3 billion in aid in 2017, and the Jewish state provides the parched kingdom with 50 million cubic meters of desperately needed water annually.
So both in terms of the pocketbook and the pipes, Jordan is reliant on American and Israeli largesse to keep its autocratic rulers afloat. Now more than ever would be a good time to employ these tools to pressure the Jordanian regime to start acting more like a friend, and less like a foe.
Otherwise, there is little reason to continue pouring liquids and liquidity into a country that tramples on its commitments, both literally and figuratively.
Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post