[Freemanlist] The case against Jordan Alan M. Dershowitz

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Wed, 8 Oct 2003 07:58:36 -0500

The case against Jordan
Alan M. Dershowitz
The Jerusalem Post Oct. 7, 2003

Jordan is the West's favorite Arab nation. And for good reason, since it is
the best of a generally bad lot. Most westerners admired King Hussein, adore
his best-selling widow Queen Noor, and respect his son, King Abdullah. US
President George W. Bush recently, and appropriately, praised King Abdullah
for his devotion to peace in the region. No one has to write "The Case for
Jordan," as I have had to write The Case for Israel.

But any fair comparison between the Middle East's most reviled and condemned
nation, Israel, and its most praised nation, Jordan, starkly reveals the
invidious double standard applied to Israel.

A few largely unknown facts about Jordan:

Jordan has a law on its books explicitly prohibiting any Jew from becoming a
citizen, or any Jordanian from selling land to a Jew. It has refused to
amend this law despite repeated demands.

Jordan has perfected the art of torture and uses it routinely against
dissidents, suspected terrorists and perceived opponents of the monarchy.
I'm talking about real torture here, not the kind of rough interrogation
occasionally employed by the US and Israel. Jordan even threatens to torture
and tortures the entirely innocent relatives of suspected terrorists, as it
did with Abu Nidal's mother.

The United States is fully aware of Jordan's proficiency in torture, having
"subcontracted" some of its own difficult cases to Jordanian "experts"
(along with Egyptian and Philippine torture experts). Yet the UN has never
condemned Jordan for its use of torture.

Jordan killed more Palestinians in one month September 1970, known as Black
September than Israel has killed during the three years of suicide bombings
that began in the fall of 2000. The brutality of the Jordanian Army toward
Palestinian dissidents and terrorists was far more egregious than anything
Israel has ever done.

The Jordanian Army has deliberately bombed civilian areas of Israeli cities
in clear violation of international law. In 1967, before Israel fired a
single shot at Jordan, the Jordanian Army fired 1,600 missiles into west
Jerusalem, targeting apartment buildings, shops and other non-military
targets. Israel did not respond by bombing Amman, which it easily could have
done. It responded by attacking Jordanian military targets and then offering
a cease-fire, which Jordan rejected.
JORDAN IS not a democracy. It is a hereditary monarchy which stifles
dissent, freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Its democratic facades
a legislature, cabinet, judiciary are all subject to control by the
Hashemite minority rulers who were placed in charge of the majority
Palestinian population by a colonial decision.

Why do Americans not know the case against Jordan? Because it is in no one's
interest to make it. Jordan is an ally of the United States (at least some
of the time). It is a peace partner with Israel (at least now). It is the
best of the Arab states in the Middle East, but "best" is a comparative term
with a relatively low basis for comparison.

Why then am I making the case against Jordan? Simply to demonstrate the
double standard so widely employed in judging Israel. Nothing justifies this
double standard. Yes, Israel receives American aid, but so does Jordan (as
well as Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and other Arab states). Indeed
Jordan receives, on a per capita basis, more actual aid than Israel, if aid
is defined as receiving assistance in return for nothing. Israel earns its
aid by giving back an enormous amount especially in the area of military
intelligence and technology. The aid given to Jordan is entirely a one-way
street that goes primarily into propping up its minority monarchy and
preventing its Palestinian majority from taking over. Israel, as a
democracy, needs no aid to prevent internal upheaval.

So this case against Jordan is really part of the case for Israel. It
invites fair-minded people to ask why Jordan which by any standard of fair
judgment is less democratic, more oppressive, and far more racist gets a
pass while Israel is subject to so much vilification.

Having made the case against Jordan, let me add that I, too, admired King
Hussein, whom I had the pleasure of meeting. I, too, respect his son King
Abdullah, who recently met with Bush and restated his commitment to a
peaceful two-state solution. But I must insist and the world must insist on
a single standard of judgment and criticism with regard to all nations. By
any such standard, Israel deserves less criticism and more praise than

The writer is a professor of law at Harvard. His latest book is The Case for
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