"Foreign Minister Bob Carr has stressed Australia's desire to see a negotiated, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Senator Carr said the need for the resumption of negotiations was 'urgent'." (Australia supports two-state solution: Carr, John Lyons, The Australian, 7/8/12)
That is, the need to resume the world's longest-running diplomatic charade. Meanwhile, outside in the shrinking scrap of land that is supposed to host the mythical Palestinian statelet, the bulldozers roar, the olive trees burn, the bullets whine, the kids are ripped out of their beds at 2 in the morning by uniformed thugs and taken away, and the desperation mounts. But Bob and Shimon are too busy indulging in a little mutual back-scratching to notice such things:
"Senator Carr and Mr Peres emphasised the warmth of relations between Australia and Israel. They deplored the ongoing violence of the Assad regime in Syria... and noted the stresses the Syrian crisis was placing on neighbouring Jordan, which has a growing refugee problem." (ibid)
Poor little Jordan, they tut. How can the little king there cope with all those refugees?
Jordan? Refugees? Sure, Bob may be a history buff but you can't expect him to remember the time when Israel was packing Palestinian refugees off to Jordan (not to mention Lebanon and Syria too). After all, when the Israelis were busy ethnically-cleansing Palestine in 1948, Bob was less than 2 years old. And anyway, his forte, American history, is so incredibly sexy it really doesn't leave much time for the rest of the planet, especially the bits inhabited by brown people. So when Bob talks about refugee camps in Jordan, he's not talking about those who ended up there from US-occupied Iraq (remember them?), and as for those who ended up there from Israeli-occupied Palestine 6 decades ago, well they aren't even on his radar:
"I have just spent 3 days in Jordan speaking to its leadership, visiting refugee camps..." (Jordan's tolerance shines a light on rest of the world, Bob Carr, The Australian, 10/8/12)
No, no brushing up on the history of modern Jordan for Bob. There are more important things on his mind:
"... and holding discussions on interfaith dialogue and the overlap of cultures." (ibid)
But all that's just by way of introducing today's gripe. This is what really got me going:
"It was hard not to be impressed by the worldliness of a leadership that has steered the country since it gained independence in 1946. Jordan lives in a tough neighbourhood. It lost the West Bank to Israel in 1967 and withstood an attempted Palestinian coup in Black September 1970."
Typical! Those bloody Palestinians again! Not content with remaining mere stateless refugees in Jordan (because Israel doesn't do interfaith dialogue or overlapping cultures), would you believe that these ingrates actually tried to stage a coup against King Hussein in 1970!
Except that they didn't.
I mean does this sound like the opening round of a Palestinian coup to you?:
"At five minutes to five on the morning of the 17th [September 1970], [King] Hussein's army launched a full scale military operation against [Palestinian] guerilla positions in Amman. The King confidently expected it to be complete within 48 hours. Patton tanks of the 60th Armoured Brigade, supported by armoured car units, moved into the city from all sides and concentrated heavy fire on guerilla strongholds, and in particular on their bases on Jebel Hussein, and in the Wahdat and Al-Husseini refugee camps. It was the first time Jordanian armour had invaded the country's capital, and the effect was devastating: any house from which fire was directed at the advancing armour was obliterated, and the commandos responded with anti-tank and sniper fire. The people of Amman, caught helplessly in the crossfire, sought refuge in their cellars, or tried to escape to parts of the city which they believed would be safe." (Hussein: A Biography, Peter Snow, 1972, p 223)
Remind you a bit of Syria today?
Tough neighbourhood indeed. (You really dig that cool Israeli talk, don't you Bob?) Here's how the neighbourhood toughs experienced the massacre that came to be known as Black September:
"Amman is burning and death roams in it... The criminal whom they call king used to boast about his love for his people and tribes. He kills the women in their homes and the children in their streets. His name used to be Hussein, but brothers, his name today is Nero - the hateful madman and murderer. Amman is burning at the hands of Nero." (Voice of Palestine Radio, Damascus, 17/9/70)
Here's how the international press saw it:
a) "In almost a quarter of a century of foreign reporting, I cannot recall anything remotely similar to what I have seen in Jordan. I have witnessed inter-tribal massacres in Africa and the slow blood-letting in Vietnam. But there has been nothing like the urban devastation - both in lives and property - that Amman has suffered. And that includes Budapest, when the Russians smashed the Hungarian revolt in 1956." Arnaud de Borchgrave, Senior Editor, Newsweek, 5/10/70)
b) "For ten days and nights during the civil war in Jordan, the [Palestinian] commandos were telling me about the massacre being perpetrated by the Royal Bedouin Army. I believed them - but proof was not available. Now I have found the evidence and I was able to photograph what the Jordan government is trying to hide by various means: The wholesale liquidation of the Palestinians. The king's soldiers (Bedouin) have cut the Palestinians to pieces and stabbed them to death - men, women and children - with hatchets and knives. In the mosque square, on the steps leading into the mosque, in the mosque itself and even on the steps of the minbar (mosque platform). And in their thirst for blood, the Bedouin moved from there to the Ashrafiyah Hospital, where they snatched the wounded Palestinians from their beds and stabbed them with knives in front of the doctors. Then they forced the nurses and doctors to leave the hospital. The decisive point in all that has happened is the following: Hussein cannot behave as if the massacres did not take place and he cannot undo what has been done. Regardless of whether the number of those killed and wounded in the refugee camps is 2,000 (as the Army Command says) or 20,000 (as Arafat says), this will not have a big effect on Jordan's future. The decisive fact is that conciliation between Hussein and the Palestinians has become impossible and that the Palestinians now demand what Hussein has made possible for his Bedouin: Revenge. I hadn't advanced a few steps inside the mosque on Jabal Ashrafiyah in Amman when I felt that my feet were wet. Blood had penetrated through my canvass shoes. I had to walk over torn bodies and through dismembered heads and limbs. The atmosphere was suffocating. I wanted to go out quickly into the open air. Then I saw the child, a girl about 8 years old, laid down in front of the mosque, that holy place. The head was bashed down to the nose, and the lips were parted with the last scream of terror."(Gerd Heidemann, Stern, No 42, October 1970)
King Hussein's shabiha!
And finally, here's the view from the palace:
"It is a sad time here. But we are putting our house in order and soon it will all be organized." (Leila's Hijack War, Peter Snow & David Phillips, 1970, p 102)
Some Palestinian coup that was!