Esor Ben-Sorek
Esor Ben-Sorek

When Right is Wrong

At his recent meeting in Lisbon, Portugal with the American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, prime minister Netanyahu discussed the question of annexing the Jordan Valley. I am not certain that Secretary Pompeo knows the exact location of the Jordan Valley nor its history in biblical and in modern times.

Netanyahu told Pompeo “it is our right if we decide to do it”. The uncertainty of a decision to annex it is a hopeful sign that Netanyahu will come to what is left of his sanity and to leave the Valley status quo.

It may be Bibi’s right but it is one hundred percent wrong. And we will suffer severe problems if he persists in annexation.

As important as that strip of land may be, annexation of it would be a declaration of war with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan who claim it as theirs. Jordanian borders would be closed to Israeli tourists. Recognition agreements may be abrogated by the Jordanian parliament upon request from the throne.

King Abdullah II has made it perfectly clear that annexation by Israel would end all diplomatic relations with the Jewish State (aka the Zionist entity).

Jordan, our closest neighbor, was the second Arab nation after Egypt to formally recognize Israel. And while Jordanian tourists rarely, if ever, visit in Israel, the tourist traffic from Israel to Jordan continues at a steady pace. Israelis long to visit the magnificence of Petra, a wonder of the world.

A few days ago a group of orthodox Israeli Jewish men crossed the border into Jordan to visit that historic marvel. Once on the Jordanian side they were forced by Jordanian border police to remove all signs of their Jewish religion. Headcovers (kippot) had to be removed. Tzitzit (prayer fringes) were forcibly removed and mens’ undergarments were searched for any further signs of Jewish religious objects.

The explanation put forth by the Jordanian authorities was that it was “to protect Jews from any attack or harassment by Muslims who resent Jews and despise the Jewish State”.

That explanation doesn’t fly. In spite of the fact the Arabs and Muslims are a semitic people, this unfortunate act was purely anti-semitic (anti-Jewish).

Annexation of the Jordan Valley will only aggravate the hostility which, when heated up, can lead to war.

We may want the Jordan Valley but sane people do not want war. We have enough problems on our northern and southern borders with Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas. We absolutely do not need nor want hostilities on our border with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan which consists of seventy-seven percent of historic Palestine.

It is a question of right versus wrong. In this case, annexation may be a right but doing so is totally wrong.

Bibi needs to do something reckless in order to boost his image and former popularity with a majority of Israelis, with the exception of the very right-wing and haredi (religious fanatics) who support him.

I have never stepped foot on Jordanian soil. My only visit to an Arab country was Egypt, a land of intense beauty and dynamic history. A land whose people offered great hospitality and gave me a warm welcome. Happy memories of my visit to Egypt forty-six years ago still remain of the beautiful land on the Nile.

When Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat met to discuss peace between the two countries, Israel was required to give up the entire Sinai region which it had conquered in the 1967 Yom Kippur war. It was not an easy thing for Israel to do because its presence in Sinai could prevent attacks from Egypt.

Nevertheless, for the sake of a peace which has lasted, Israel returned the land to Egypt. The price was much lower than the price which Egypt paid…. the cruel assassination of president Anwar Sadat by members of the Egyptian military who were opposed to any peace deal with Israel.
Without any doubt, I believe that the Jordanian monarch considers it a possible life or death situation. He recalls the assassination of his grandfather, Abdullah I, who came to Jerusalem to pray and whose life was cruelly taken by a Palestinian in 1951.

If he were to allow an Israeli annexation, surely he would be assassinated by his own people.

The right expressed by Netanyahu is a one hundred percent wrong. One more mistaken decision to add to his fallen “legacy”.

Doesn’t he know when to quit? He should take Israel’s past grievous wars to refresh his diminished memory.

Defying our past history and relations with Jordan since the 1948 war could possibly lead to the new war of 2029. God forbid! Bibi must be restrained.

V’im lo achshav… aimatai? And if not now…… when?

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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