A month or two ago, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threw out an idea that was quickly rejected by the Knesset: His plan was to require a loyalty oath as a condition of Israeli citizenship. Needless to say, the proposal engendered significant controversy, in Israel and around the world.
Also proposed – though not totally rejected by the Knesset – was a bill to prohibit Israeli Arabs from marking the Nakhba (or Catastrophe) on Israel Independence Day, treating it as a day of mourning. This week, a Knesset committee approved a watered-down version of that bill, prohibiting the use of state funds for such activities. Certainly that seems reasonable.
Now we learn that Jordan has revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians to keep them from remaining permanently in that country.
According to a JTA report, “the move was taken in order to prevent Palestinians from being ‘resettled’ in the Hashemite Kingdom.”
Imagine for one moment what would happen if Israel revoked the citizenship of Israeli Arabs for any reason. The world would be up in arms.
Indeed, when Lieberman first put forth his proposals, Ha’Aretz reported that 230 lecturers from Israeli universities and academic institutions signed a declaration to “publicly violate” the proposed laws, should they pass. Protesters called the measures “harshly anti-democratic,” holding that they “gravely violate basic rights essential to democracy and to freedom of expression.” And that’s only within Israel.
Whatever the reason for Jordan’s actions, it does not follow that revoking the citizenship of 70 percent of its population will accomplish its political goals.
According to Arutz Sheva, the new policy will effectively deprive thousands of residents of the kingdom of civil services such as state education and health insurance – and, we should add, they will be required to obtain special yellow ID cards.
Jordan says the move is intended to head off any Israeli plan to expel Arabs. “We should be thanked for taking this measure,” said a Jordanian spokesman.
What we have not yet heard – though this may change by publication day – is a public outcry. Where are the voices of those same moderate Arab leaders who condemn Israel time and again? Where are the cries of indignation? The threats of reprisal? Once again, people are being used as pawns in political games. It will be interesting to watch world reaction – or inaction.