Arutz Sheva Israel National Radio -- Feb. 7, 1999 / Sh'vat 21, 5759


By Elyakim Ha'etzni


There is an old saying that it is easier to take a Jew out of the Diaspora [Galut] than to take the Diaspora out of the Jew. The truth of this adage becomes abundantly clear when one witnesses the reactions of the Israeli media ever since the news broke this past Friday that King Hussein was dying. Voice of Israel radio decided to play sad, subdued, mourning music. Channel 2's Oshrat Kotler looked as if she'd lost a close relative. "Independence" is not only a political status ­ it is also a state of mind. The Jews of Israel still have a long way to go to attain inner "independence", inner balance and self­assurance. Lost 1929 years ago, these qualities cannot be retrieved in merely 50 years.


We all support the peace treaty with Jordan. There is also no doubt that, among Arab rulers, Hussein most closely fit the definition of a "good neighbor." And yet, we should never forget the facts: It was Hussein that desecrated the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, even using some of the tombstones for Arab Legion latrines. With his consent, the so­called "West Bank" served as a basis for terror attacks until 1967. One need only recall the massacre on the bus in Ma'aleh Akrabim in the Negev which claimed 11 victims; the 34 victims of Jordanian terrorist attacks in 1954; and the frequent shootings from the wall around the Old City of Jerusalem. In 1967, Hussein joined the Egyptian attack on Israel. After the retreat of the Jordanian army, Israeli soldiers found written orders from the King instructing his men to kill everybody ­ men, women and children ­ in Motza and Sha'alvim, two Jewish communities situated between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.


After '67, Jordan once again began to serve as the basis for terrorist infiltration, resulting in heavy Israeli casualties in Karame. During what became known as Black September 1970, the benevolent, smiling, well­educated King killed approximately 20,000 Palestinians. (Subsequently, Israel gave asylum to over 100 terrorists who sought refuge from the massacre.) Had a Jewish ruler done anything even remotely similar, the Israeli left would never have forgiven him. During the Gulf War of 1991, King Hussein conspired with Saddam Hussein to partition Saudi Arabia, and to crown Hussein as King of Hajaz. To this end, Hussein even began to grow a "fundamentalist beard" which he later ­ quietly and quickly ­ shaved off. All those years, behind the scenes, Hussein maintained good and sometimes intimate relations with all Israeli governments from both the left and right sides of the political spectrum. His explanation for this "two­faced" game: his precarious position in the Arab world. Hussein's Hashemite regime lacked legitimacy, given the fact that Jordan was the creation of British imperialism. Indeed, the King's grandfather, Abdullah, the founder of the Hashemite dynasty, was placed on his throne by Britain.


Israel and Jordan cooperated closely ­ economically, politically and militarily ­ long before the signing of the formal Israeli­Jordanian peace treaty. This relationship was not rooted in "love." There is no such thing between nations. It was a partnership based on mutual interests, clearly demonstrated in September 1970, when Israel moved its army to the Syrian border, forcing an armored Syrian column (which had already succeeded in penetrating Jordan) to withdraw.

It was Oslo that forced Jordan to sign a formal peace agreement with Israel, because, despite Jordan's pro­Palestinian rhetoric, the emerging "State of Palestine" is Jordan's real nightmare. Jordan knows for sure that after taking Jerusalem, Arafat's next move will be to get control of Amman. (Tel Aviv will come only later!) King Hussein was always painfully aware that 60 to 70% of his population was Palestinian; he was thus careful to keep his Palestinians away from real political power, especially in respect to Jordan's armed forces. "Greater Palestine" ­ extending from Gaza's Mediterranean shores up to the Iraqi border to Teheran, would constitute a contiguous sovereign, hostile Islamic land mass. This is the common nightmare of both Israel and Jordan.


Since the pernicious Oslo Accords, "Jordan is Palestine" is no longer a slogan of Israel's political right. On the contrary: Oslo made it a feasible goal for the Palestinians. Hence the caution and the fear in Israeli political circles for the future and stability of Jordan. Israel has two insurance policies in the face of this danger. First: Jordan's Hashemite regime. Second: territory ­ the terrain of Judea and Samaria. The Judean desert and its mountains are virtually unconquerable by an army attacking from the east. In Samaria, the few passes leading from the east into the country are controlled by a mountain range towering 800 meters above the Jordan Valley. In a joint announcement, 100 American generals and admirals described the region as "the only military margin" Israel possesses to safeguard its very existence. Only from there, say the experts, can an invading army be destroyed. Once up the mountain plateau, a hostile foreign army faces obstacles on the way to Tel Aviv.

From the Jordanian viewpoint, a Palestinian state sharing a common border with Jordan would be tempted to infiltrate and destabilize Jordan with the intention of annexing it to "Palestine." Thus, both Israel and Jordan have a common interest in keeping Israel on the mountain plateau of Samaria, in the Jordan Valley, and on the Jordan River. Is it exaggerated to state that the second insurance policy­­the territory, is the better one? After all, what country would make its very existence dependent on the well being of another state?


Hussein's death is a classic illustration of how fragile and dangerous is the total reliance on the stability of Jordan (a stability that we hope will prevail under King Abdullah II). But Providence has given Israel another leg to stand on: 200,000 Jewish settlers, sitting on this very mountain plateau. If the Yesha settlers were not there, they should have been invented. Providence also wanted it so that the spearhead and backbone of this Jewish population came there in search of tradition, religion and history, in the footsteps of the Patriarchs. A spiritual magnet turned out to serve as a material security belt for the Jewish coastal state. The Israeli establishment's jitters in the wake of Hussein's death should serve as the handwriting on the wall ­ warning right and left not to touch Israel's only true insurance policy: the territory and the settlements of Judea and Samaria.


Former Techiya MK Elyakim Haetzni is an attorney living in Kiryat Arba. Hehas a weekly spot on Arutz­7, and writes a column for Yediot Acharonot. Arutz­Sheva Educational Radio is a project of Bet­El Yeshiva Center Institutions.

 HOME  Maccabean  comments