Jordan: Bias at the Syrian Border
From Human Rights Watch: hrw.org
(Geneva) – The Jordanian authorities have forcibly returned some newly arriving Palestinians from Syria and threatened others with deportation, Human Rights Watch said today.Since April 2012, the authorities have also arbitrarily detained Palestinians fleeing Syria in a refugee holding center without any options for release other than return to Syria. The Jordanian authorities should treat all Palestinians from Syria seeking refuge in Jordan the same as Syrian asylum seekers, who are allowed to remain and can move freely in Jordan after passing security screening and finding a sponsor.
There’s a lot of ‘he-said, he-said’ going on in this story, but if HR Watch’s understanding is correct, it’s another chapter in Jordan’s ongoing complicated relationship with Palestinians within their borders. Jordan has stripped Jordanian citizenship from Palestinians, in an attempt to maintain their official refugee status. However, Jordan does provide healthcare and education to Palestinians resident in Jordan, unlike, say, Lebanon or Syria. As the other half of British Mandate Palestine, Jordan has been playing a complex game with Israel over the West Bank and the ultimate status of the Palestinian refugee population for a long time. (Ceding the land they lost in 67 to the PLO was a particularly clever move.)
Elder of Ziyon has a simple question about this story: will anyone (by which he means the usual suspects), identify this as apartheid? The answer is no, and we can move on. Yes, they’d yell their heads off if Israel did this. No, they won’t notice this. But we know that the usual suspects are not capable of looking beyond their own narrow understanding of the Middle East.
I don’t have a question, more of an observation: this is yet another incident that underscores the extent to which the creation and maintenance of the Palestinian refugee population is a region-wide issue. Unfortunately, it is never treated as region-wide issue: it is treated as Israel’s responsibility. A narrative has been carefully crafted, in which Israel is the sole actor at fault, and (it is strongly suggested), the region would suddenly erupt in peace and Bollywood dance routines if Israel would just for goodness sakes be reasonable.
And in the meantime, Palestinians continue to live on the edges of society in Lebanon, and be turned back from the Jordanian border as they flee Syria, and nothing much happens. Because while the world cares very much what Israel does, no one (Israel’s bordering states least of all), cares very much what happens to the Palestinians themselves.