Jordan and the age of topsy-turvy
October 29, 2012 | Erol A. Araf - Falafel Republic
After presenting his credentials H.E Walid Obeidad, Jordanian ambassador to Israel, raises a glass of wine with Israel President Shimon Peres. The ambassador has the chutzpah to ask that Israel “guarantee the protection of equal freedom of religious rites in the holy places in Jerusalem,” without batting an eyelid, Erol Araf says.
It takes an extraordinary temperament to say extremely silly things with a straight face on serious ceremonial occasions. John Clease is very good at this sort of stuff.
Take the case of the new Jordanian Ambassador to Israel, H.E Walid Obeidad. After presenting his credentials to Israel President Shimon Peres, the ambassador asked that Israel should “guarantee the protection of equal freedom of religious rites in the holy places in Jerusalem,” without batting an eyelid.
Did Peres crack up or did he maintain his presidential composure?
This comes on the heels of Jordanian efforts at UNESCO attempting to condemn Israel for allowing “Jews to go up to the Mount and pray there” and for alleged unilateral Israeli work at the Mograbi Bridge. Imagine the gall! Repairing bridges! What next, I wonder?
Creating such a fuss over repairing a wooden bridge to ensure the safety of Jews and visitors, the only ones using it, is an integral part of the machinations of a mindset that refuses to acknowledge the rooted existence of Jews and Christians in the Holy Land. The whole idea of facilitating access to any and all places of worship for all those who wish to visit and offer their devotions, irrespective of their religious professions, respectfully, cannot be construed as an act of denying “equal freedom of religion.” After all, Jews do not riot after Havdalah Prayers!
This is way too rich even for satire.
After the Jordanians captured the Jewish Quarter in a war of annihilation, the destruction, desecration and systematic looting of Jewish sites began. Fifty-seven ancient synagogues, the most ancient one dating to the 12th century were totally and deliberately destroyed. Libraries and centres of religious learning were burned to the ground as priceless manuscripts went up in flames. More than 38,000 Jewish tomb stones were moved from the Mount of Olives and used in construction and, offensively, in army latrines. Adding insult to injury, Jews were barred from the Jewish Quarter and the Jordanian authorities gradually transformed the Quarter into a slum and a dump site for garbage.
Is this the proper way, Your Excellency, of guaranteeing “the protection of equal freedom of religious rites in the holy places in Jerusalem?”
Or, isn’t ransacking Jewish cemeteries prima facie evidence relating to “changing the religious character of Jerusalem,” Your Excellency?
Using ancient tombstones from time immemorial as barrack urinals not only changes the religious character of Jerusalem but also speaks volumes about the character of those who engage in this sort behaviour.
Why did we not riot and attack Jordanian embassies worldwide? Where were our flag and effigy burners? Where were our Jewish pirates when we needed them most? Where was sacred Talmudic rage? Why were our Chassidic ‘bohers’ not rampaging in Finsbury Park, London, presently known as West Pakistan? Or, what are we to say about the absence of the ‘mazon’ sisterhood at the barricades on the brink of celestial rapture and consumed with incandescent spiritual frenzy.
His Excellency blurting out such an inane statement, given his government’s appalling record of systematic sacrilege, versus what prevails today in united Jerusalem, under Israeli rule, begs for satire.
His observation is tantamount to Attila the Hun saying to Pope Leo I: “Your Holiness, I am somewhat disappointed to see that so many churches are in a state of disrepair. One would have thought that the church would be a little more respectful towards its spiritual heritage. How can we help you rebuild?”
Your Excellency, we love Jordan and wish your country the best and hope the two nations would strive to realize Peres’s dream of a new Middle East, remote as it may look at the moment. But, please, do not presume to ask Israelis to respect the religious rights of others while the painful memory of your soldiers evacuating on the tombstones of our sages remains a spiritual wound that refuses to heal.
Visit Islam’s resplendent holy shires in Jerusalem and compare them with the memory of the fifty-seven synagogues your army razed to the ground without leaving a rack behind.
In Gilbert and Sullivan’s topsy- turvy operetta Iolanthe, the mortals are transformed into fairies, and they all fly away to Fairyland [ presumably already inhabited by Peace Now worthies] leaving the House of Lords to be filled according to merit and intelligence as opposed to birth.
Meritorious and intelligent diplomats: interesting idea!
Erol A. Araf is a Montreal-based strategic planning consultant.