Earlier this week, it was reported that Jordan had begun to turn away Palestinian refugees who are trapped in Syria and hope to flee to Jordan for safety. As a Jordan government spokesman told al-Jazeera:
“Jordan is not obligated to pay a political price for the Syrian crisis.”
This seemed like a simple enough (albeit very cold-blooded) government response. After all, there are now over 200,000 Syrian refugees taking shelter in surrounding countries and over 60,000 Syrians are said to have been killed in less than two years of the Syrian civil war.
Abdullah Ensour, the Jordanian Prime Minister, has since amended the reason why Jordan cannot take in their “Palestinian brothers”: Israel. And specifically that taking in Palestinian refugees would encourage Israel to deport the Palestinians from their own borders.
“There are those who want to absolve Israel once again of its responsibility for banishing Palestinians from their homes,” Ensour said in an extensive interview with the London-based Arab daily al-Hayat. “Jordan is not the place to solve Israel’s problems. Jordan has taken a sovereign and explicit decision not to allow Palestinians carrying Syrian [travel] documents to enter Jordan.”
This is, of course, total fucking poppycock. As Ensour went on to rail against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the plight of the Palestinians in Israel, he absolved Jordan of the blame, perhaps hoping that the reporter would not ask a follow up. Blaming Israel for broad domestic problems and specific acts of nature (like earthquakes or shark attacks) is a time-honored tradition in plenty of Middle Eastern countries, just as inciting hatred against Israel remains a diversionary tactic from addressing real reforms and change. This has been documented so many times, it hardly seems worth it to isolate one.
That said, this particular incident is so baldly and transparently ridiculous, it can’t be overlooked, especially given the grave conditions in Syria.
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.