Now that I’ve left Amman, a nice tidbit: a prominent journalist there told me that when journalists publish anything mildly critical of the government, they get death threats from anonymous callers (sometimes such attacks aren’t even that anonymous). Of course all of their phones are tapped, too — he indicated that he kept his phone in his rear pocket, where the sound pick-up would be muffled. He also suggested that Arab governments love unrest and resistance in Palestine, because it diverts their populace’s attention from domestic dictatorship to the far worse repression west of the Jordan, adding that their populations postpone domestic social struggle under the premise that the Palestinians have it far worse. So from his and others’ perspectives, the worst thing for the government would be a “permanent” settlement, because then problems that are postponed under politics-as-usual would finally have to be dealt with. Another friend added that a lot of the commerce in Jordan is owned by Palestinians. What would happen if there were to be a just settlement? Would the Palestinian population repatriate its resources to Palestine? The treadmill peace process suits the monarchy quite well. Also the Amman airport, whose replacement is incidentally being built by a French company, which will get to operate it for ten years, is also using retinal scanners for departees, which the US doesn’t do, at least for nationals or under normal circumstances. US tax dollars, only the best!
Max Ajl is an essayist, rabble-rouser, and PhD student in development sociology at Cornell. He is an editor at Jacobin.
Jacobin is a leading voice of the American left, offering socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture. The print magazine is released quarterly and reaches over 10,000 subscribers, in addition to a web audience of 600,000 a month.