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January 15th, 2009
Gaza E.R.
In Amman, All Eyes on Gaza

Rawan Jabaji

Missiles started falling on Gaza the day I arrived in Amman, Jordan, to attend my cousin’s wedding and visit with family members I hadn’t seen in eight years. Then a few days later, Israeli ground troops entered Northern Gaza. From that moment on Gaza was all people talked about. CNN International, BBC, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya–all the TV stations were reporting on Gaza around the clock. At family functions, my aunts, uncles, cousins and friends all engaged in heated discussions about the crisis. Every taxi driver had the radio tuned to the news. New Year’s Eve celebrations throughout the city were canceled in solidarity.

An estimated 60 percent of Jordanians are of Palestinian origin or descent—including my family. Palestinians were issued citizenship in Jordan following the wars of 1948 and 1967, when they fled to Amman as refugees. Historically, they’ve attempted to blend in, fearing that their Jordanian loyalty may be questioned. But now, almost 60 years later, the children and grandchildren of Palestinian refugees, who were born and raised in Jordan, are showing their Palestinian pride. Events in Gaza have mobilized the youth to express solidarity by participating in rallies throughout the city, and by wearing the keffiyeh, the traditional checkered scarf that you’ve seen worn by hipsters on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The black-and-white scarf is customarily worn by Palestinians, while the red-and-white version is worn in Jordan. Jordanians of Palestinian descent usually choose red, as part of their effort to assimilate. But at a hair salon I went to in Amman, the trendy hair dresser in Nike Dunks threading a woman’s eyebrows was wearing the black-and-white keffiyeh, and not around his neck, but around his head, in the traditional style usually only seen on older men. And in Amman’s most exclusive and chic mall, Al Baraka, young girls shopped for designer clutches sporting black-and-white keffiyehs togged around their necks.

During my stay in Amman, demonstrations and donation drives were taking place almost daily. Behind most mosques, tents were set up for people wishing to donate food, clothing, or blankets to Gazans.

On Friday, January 9th thousands in Jordan took to the streets in one of the strongest demonstrations since the Israeli military offensive began just over two weeks before. Approximately 10,000 people marched in downtown Amman, demanding the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and an end to peace with Israel. Security forces fired tear gas at more than 2,000 protesters to prevent them from approaching the Israeli embassy. Water cannons were used to disperse some of the protesters. Al Jazeera television correspondent Yaser Abu Hilala, head of the Amman bureau, was beaten up by anti-riot police while covering a demonstration, though he claims to have clearly identified himself as a journalist.

Back at home in New York, the situation in Gaza seems far away. And comparatively, all eyes are not on Gaza. The story has been reduced to a short segment with recycled stock footage from Ramattan TV.

  • gdunphy

    It is a shame that violence seems to be taken for granted as a means for settling disputes – Conflict Resolution is a far better way, eg if a person throws something at a person, do NOT immediatedly retaliate with force – why not ask that person why they are angry with them? Have the Israelis ever asked the Palestians why they are so angry?

  • Mike

    gdunphy coveniently disregards history. Very arrogant and selfish indeed. Only his opinion with total disregard of the facts count. Right? Well I happen to think wrong.
    Historical fact: Palestinians refused to establish a Palestinian nation together with Isreal in 1948 and have always claimed that they need to throw Jews out into the ocean.
    Historical fact: Yes, Israel has tried countless times to approach the Palestinian people with only one objective in mind, namely: PEACE
    In Amman also conveniently forgot that the Israeli UNILATERAL WITHDRAWAL from Gaza was yet another act of hope for: PEACE. Payback: Rockets.
    Historical fact the following quote from Golda Meir:
    HATE US. ”

    You still do not get it. Do you? Peace brings Peace. Rockets during eight years (not inmediate as you incorrectly state) bring presicely what is going on to day in Gaza. Have the Palestinians ever asked the Israelis why they are so angry? Golda Meir answered this very question several years ago. All you have to do is look at history.

  • Rex Reddy

    Hey gdunphy!
    Yes thats it!
    Why didnt I think of it!?
    Why they are so angry?
    I can answer that!
    The Extremist Muslims are angry at the Jews because they Breath.
    They want them all to stop breathing immediately!
    The Muslims think that Ishmael was the true heir to the throne and all that came after.
    So all who were descended of Isaac are unholy and should be put to death. (unless the become Muslim and even then the may be killed)

    Yes, by all means don’t take my word for it.
    Why don’t you go ask them yourself?

  • peter

    As in many other places, the land now called Israel was invaded by colonists from Europe who pushed the people already living there off of their land. In some cases, the native societies were completely destroyed (Tasmania) or nearly so (USA). Israel is essentially no different – the weapons of the original inhabitants are once again no match for those of the invaders, who appropriate more and more land and kill with seeming impunity. The only significant difference is that now we have video cameras to record the violence and television and the internet to broadcast this for the world to witness.

  • john kitson

    For the first time in years an objective discussion re. the Israel/Gaza conflict appeared on ‘thirteen’.
    Charlie Roses’s show two nights ago, featuring Roger Cohen as one of the participants, was a welcome change from the usual coverage. Is it possible to have more of the same?

  • Courtnee(:

    Uhm, why are they all fighting? Fighting is bad, we should love(:

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