Don’t blame Smotrich

Blame the Arab regimes that collude with his government

I was surprised by the campaign of condemnation by Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, and some Arab governments of Israel’s fascist finance minister Bezalel Smotrich after he described the Palestinians as a fictitious and non-existent people. This was at a commemoration in Paris for another terrorist called Jacques Kupfer who advocated genocide against Arabs and regretted that Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated before he could be tried for treason for signing the Oslo Accords.

The reason I was surprised by these condemnations and their strong words was that they were issued by three governments (Egypt, Jordan, and the PA) that had just taken part in a security summit at Sharm al-Sheikh which adopted a plan, entailing specific measures, to crush Palestinian resistance in the West Bank. Its aim was to safeguard the settlers and bolster the Israeli government to which Smotrich belongs and is a key figure, that came to power with a popular mandate in favour of its racist, terrorist, and exclusionary programme.

Smotrich spoke at a podium displaying maps that showed Jordan (and parts of Saudi Arabia and Syria) to be an integral part of the Land of Greater Israel. The Jordanian government demanded that the Netanyahu government please dissociate itself from his views. It summoned the Israeli ambassador and asked him to convey the message. The response came quickly, in a two-line tweet from the Israeli foreign ministry — not the government — saying they do not represent the ministry’s position. Those two lines were evidently more than good enough for the Jordanian government, which promptly closed the whole file.

The Jordanian government’s reaction to the negation of the Jordanian state, and its designation not as the ‘alternative’ Palestinian homeland but as part of Greater Israel, was astonishing. It merely called in the Israeli ambassador — rather than expelling him, closing his embassy, and suspending the Wadi Arba accords — and proceeded to reiterate its commitment to the decisions taken at the Aqaba and Sharm al-Sheikh to root out the West Bank resistance groups and increase cooperation with Israeli security agencies for the purpose. This appalled the vast majority of self-respecting Jordanians, who saw it — as do I and millions of people in the Arab and Islamic worlds –as pathetically weak and submissive.

I don’t blame Smotrich, Ben-Gvir, or their superior Netanyahu who tutored them in extremism, terrorism, contempt for Arabs and negating their existence. I blame our Jordanian, Palestinian, and Arab governments who engage with them and collaborate with them in crushing resistance. If these governments took a different stand and upheld the right to resist occupation, they wouldn’t dare voice such contemptuous and demeaning views of all Arabs.

The US and European countries, which established Israel and supported its usurpation of Arab land and rights, have been refusing to receive Netanyahu and members of his government. EU foreign policy chief Josef Borrell strongly condemned it. Yet some Arab governments roll out red carpets for the killers and even commit to protecting their security and rooting out resistance to their occupation.

It is all the more painful for all this to be happening on the 55th anniversary of the Battle of Karameh, when the Jordanian army defeated the Israeli army in support of the Palestinian resistance and defence of Jordanian territory. Its heroic stand was the first restitution of honour since the June 1967 disaster and caused a massive boost in morale. I was fortunate enough to bear witness to this historic victory. I climbed on the wreckage of an Israeli tank and celebrated this great achievement with the crowds in central Amman.

Curse Smotrich as much as you want. Your curses, however virulent, will be met by him and his like with mockery and derision They have heard many like them over the past 74 years, and that never prevented the building of a single structure in an Israeli settlement in occupied Palestine.

They tell themselves: ‘We were inundated with curses, and we gained Palestine. Soon it’ll be all of Jordan too, and part of Saudi Araba and Syria.’

Don’t blame Smotrich

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