This is something quite close to both my academic and – after spending six months in Jordan studying the case – personal heart.
Which is why the following announcement is disheartening, though not altogether unexpected:
Jordan has revoked citizenship from nearly 3,000 Jordanians of Palestinian origin in recent years and should put a stop to the practice, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released Monday.
HRW said 2,732 Palestinians were stripped of their Jordanian nationality between 2004 and 2008. [Source]
The slow discrimination enacted against Jordanians of Palestinian origin has continued unabated for years.
Yet while it is ‘bravo!’ to Human Rights Watch for highlighting this point in the mainstream news, the question remains: why not sooner?
More rhetorical is the quandary of what follows.
A pessimist, I suspect that the story will elicit a few tuts and gasps of sympathy, before giving way to a story about the world’s largest bowl of hummus.
Such is the fickleness of news.
The reality is that bigotry and discrimination in the name of security is endemic.
One of the points that struck significantly during my interviews with Jordanian nationalist figures was the similarity between the rationales of their organization and that of the far right in Britain.
While Nick Griffin of the British National Party rambles about immigration being the scourge of society because non-English individuals ‘take our jobs, sap the welfare, threaten the security of the isle’, so too are the same tired excuses for bigotry trotted out in the Kingdom.
To be fair, we must concede that Jordan hosts perhaps the largest number of Palestinian refugees in the diaspora.
Let us also note that has treated said refugees substantially better than those in neighbouring states.
Nevertheless, the slow shift towards stripping the Jordanian Palestinians of their citizenship is an abrogation of their human rights.
Another argument runs that the act is a contribution to the Palestinian cause; by rendering thousands of individuals stateless, it ensures that the issue of Palestine remains on the agenda.
I do not buy this.
And neither do the Palestinians denied health care while coughing up blood on the tarmac of Amman (as one elderly respondent related) and being deprived of school books at the age of 6 years.
It is one thing to deny citizenship.
It is a whole other to bestow it, before rescinding it.