THUMBS UP to the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Features Editor Max Boot for his astute December 14, 1998 column shedding light on the differences between the Israel-Jordan relationship and the Israel-Palestinian Authority one. With unusual directness Boot describes Arafat’s “thuggish” conduct toward Israel, the orchestrated rioting that erupts as a tool of PA policy and the refusal of the PA to root out the infrastructure of Hamas.
He also describes a telling meeting in which reporters queried Arafat about an official Palestinian document posted on the Internet that calls for the “eradication of Zionist … existence.” The PA leader denounced the document, saying it was written by an “idiot” aide to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. He then added, “menacingly, eyes bulging, finger wagging” that the reporters should “be careful, you are speaking to Arafat.”
Although Boot notes that Jordan’s record in combatting Hamas is not spotless, he reports that Israeli officials are far more positive about the kingdom’s efforts than the PA’s. On the Syrian front, the Jordanians claim to have intercepted more than 700 infiltration attempts since 1990 by weapons smugglers seeking to reach Israel and the West Bank.
Boot also points to a promising Jordan-Israel joint venture that receives virtually no media attention. At a “Qualifying Industrial Zone” near the Jordanian city of Irbid Jordanian and Israeli companies produce goods that are shipped duty-free to the United States.
The writer observes that “in the strategic calculus of the Middle East, Jordan is a small but valuable counterweight to missile-toting bullies like Syria, Iraq and Iran. Along with Israel and Turkey, Jordan is part of a de facto pro-Western alliance.”