A Separate Set of Principles for Jordan

Why does the Obama Administration treat one Middle Eastern despot differently?

One of the primary tenets of the Jewish dietary laws known as kashrut ("keeping kosher" to my beloved gentile readers) is the prohibition against the mixing of meat and dairy.  The lengths to which individual Jews go in the observance of these laws varies.  At one end, you have... well... me.  And waaaaaaay over on the other, are the very observant Jews, who observe the traditional Jewish stricture against the simultaneous consumption so scrupulously as actually to keep two sets of dishes, one for meat and one for dairy.

But I wonder how many gentiles - or for that matter, Jews - know that the U.S. government keeps kosher, too.  And, like observant Jews, our government keeps two sets, too, only not of dishes.  What America keeps is two sets of principles:  one set of principles for the world at large and a separate, completely opposite set of principles for the Middle East.

For more than a year, we have been reading news reports and commentary about the so-called Arab Spring.  Beginning on December 17, 2010, when a Tunisian vegetable vendor set himself afire to protest the confiscated by police of his vegetable cart, the Arab Spring phenomenon has spread across the Middle East, sparking revolutions in Egypt and Libya, and stirring hope in Arab hearts and whatever passes for hearts in the breasts of U.S. State Department hacks and EU bureaucrats for additional Arab Springs, in Syria and Iran.

One country, however, remains consistently absent from the list:  Jordan.

How does Jordan, a monarchy where a Hashemite minority rules over a country that to be as much as  75 percent Palestinian, differ from Syria, where another minority, the Alawites (12 percent of the population) rule over, and oppress a vast Sunni majority?  Granted, Abdullah is not mowing down civilians with gunfire or indiscriminately shelling villages.  But neither is Abdullah's regime threated as is Assad's.  When it was so threatened, in 1970, King Hussein, Abdullah's father, did not hesitate to mow down thousands of Palestinians in a brutal crackdown that would forever be known as Black September after the month in which they occurred.

Are we to assume that in the same circumstances, Abdullah would not emulate Hussein as closely as Bashar emulates Hafez?  The State Department's most recent (2010) report on Jordan's human rights record, certainly leaves room for doubt.  Nor is Jordan's record on freedom of religion any better.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but are not civil rights and religious freedom core American principles?  Yet we hear nothing from Hillary Clinton, the same Hillary Clinton who publicly supported the deposing of Hosni Mubarak, no more a respecter of civil rights and religious freedom -- and no less a reliable U.S. ally -- than Abdullah.

And what of the Palestinians, especially those who dwell in Jordan?  Surely, Jordanian Palestinians  realize that they are the overwhelming majority?  Surely, they know that they are underrepresented in government and that their civil rights are routinely violated?  Surely they are aware, and many have personal memories, of Black September?

And, most puzzling of all, is this:  Have the Palestinians and their supporters not been telling us for almost a half-century now, that the objective of the "two-state solution" is to create a "Palestinian state," where the "stateless" "Palestinian people" would be able to govern themselves?  And yet, here we have a state, literally next door, in precisely the same area (British Mandatory Palestine), which is 75 percent Palestinian, and where a Palestinian state could be established virtually overnight simply by deposing Abdullah and replacing his monarchy with a democracy.

Or to state the matter more bluntly, all that is needed is for the world, including the U.S., to apply the same principles to Jordan as it already has to Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iran.  And South Africa.  And Croatia.  And Kosovo.

Hell, the Palestinians, once in charge, could even change Jordan's name to Palestine, if they wanted to.  Why, then, do Palestinians not call for a democratic Jordan?  And just as puzzling, why don't we?

In the Palestinians' case, the answer is simple, obvious and irrefutable, as Martin Sherman, writing in the Jerusalem Post explains:

[T]o keep alive their claim for a Palestinian state west of the Jordan, [Palestinians] cannot permit the establishment of [a] manifestly "Palestinian" state east of the river - which would be the case if the Hashemite monarchy was deposed and the Palestinian majority populace took control of the country. If a new political entity emerged, geographically situated on almost 80% of what was the original Mandatory Palestine, that has a Palestinian majority as the source of popular sovereignty, it would be increasingly difficult deny that this was a "Palestinian state."

Such a development might severely undermine the claim that the Palestinians are "stateless." [emphasis added]

"Such a development" would also prove that the people claiming that "Jordan is Palestine" (and derided as extremist, right-wing, racist "Likudniks") do, in fact, have it exactly right.  Jordan is Palestine; the Palestinians simply are being prevented from governing by the Hashemite minority.  And if they are allowed to govern?  Then the entire Middle East "peace process" is, instantly, turned on its head for then we would no longer be talking about "creating a Palestinian state," but about creating a second Palestinian state.  Which characterization of the "peace process" Hamas, Fatah and the Palestinians manifestly do not want.  For now.  Allow a Palestinian state to be established in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and, this writer confidently predicts, the instant the "first" Palestinian state is declared, the plotting to turn Jordan into a second one will begin.

Which brings us to the United States and our "kosher" Middle East policy, whereby we keep one set of foreign policy "dishes" for the rest of the world, including (or should that be, "especially") for Israel, and a separate set of "dishes" for Jordan - and, by extension the Middle East "peace process."  Seemingly, the same reasoning that applies to the Palestinians applies to us, too, only more so.  The "Palestinian problem" has vexed - and consumed an inordinate amount of time of - eight presidents.  Establishing a democratic Jordan would circumvent the need to vex a ninth.  But most  important, it would be consistent with the principles on which our great country was founded.  So why are we not doing that?

We are not doing that because the U.S. government is as obsessed with the idea of creating a Palestinian out of Judea, Samaria and Gaza as the rest of the "international community."  Clearly, the Palestinians' goal is not to create a new state, but to eliminate an existing one - Israel.  But so obsessed is the political leadership of both parties with the fantasy that Palestinians are a "stateless people seeking only self-determination and peace,  that seemingly there is no human rights violation they will not tolerate, no American principle they will not abandon, no assault on civil rights, religious freedom human dignity or even life itself, that they will not abandon in order to keep the fantasy of a Palestinian "peace process" alive.

In 1952, Congressman Arthur Vandenburg said that "politics stops at the water's edge."  Sixty years later, it looks like America's principles stop at the water's edge, too.

At the edge of the Jordan River.

Gene Schwimmer is the pundit-proprietor of Schwimmerblog and the author of The Christian State.