The Jordanian public opinion is familiar with the horrific details of the massacre, yet Tamimi is an admired figure, a television star. According to the former head of the Jordanian Bar Association, for example, the murderer has “the right to resist the occupation and the right to self-determination.”
The public opinion in Israel ignored the report. The Right ignored it because it didn’t expect anything else, while the Left erased troubling facts that contradict its ideology.
Ahmad Daqamseh, who murdered seven Israeli girls by gunshots at the “Island of Peace” in Naharayim in 1997, was released from Jordanian prison recently after 20 years. He was a soldier who was put in charge of these girls’ security. The affair is remembered thanks to King Hussein’s heart-rending visit to the grieving families, but Israel ignored the fact that the king represented himself alone and not his people. The fact that the murderer only received a prison sentence says it all. Had he murdered seven European girls, he would have surely been sentenced to death. The king knew however, that if a person who had shed the blood of Jewish children were executed, his people would rebel and endanger his rule. The Israeli government knew that too, and moved on.
It’s unclear why Israel’s governments, along with the public opinion, are ignoring this reality, nurturing the Jordanians’ image as “charming Arabs” and spoiling them with different perks—from the water of the dried-up Sea of Galilee to industrial factories at our workers’ expense. Only a year ago, on the Jordanian Independence Day, our president said that “Jordan serves as a special example… Israel is proud to be its partner and stand by its side.”
Those of us who do not suffer from the psychological phenomenon known as “denial” should take note of the Jordanian people’s response to Daqamseh’s release: Signs posted in his hometown welcomed “the Lion of the Valley”; a senior commentator said, “We feel a sense of revenge, a sort of compensation”; and social media was filled with support for “the hero.” All this, after they watched him say upon his release: “The Israelis are human garbage that the nations of the world disgorged on our doorstep… It must be removed by burning or burying it.” King Abdullah, who is the first person to come out against Israel in international forums, kept quiet in light of the comments which encompass the Auschwitz program.
The conclusion is not to avoid upholding the formal peace with the Jordanians, but not to give them anything for free. Respect, sympathy and compassion cannot be bought, and the investment is in vain because under the calm and the cooperation with us, which they cannot do without, there will always be hate which has nothing to do with the “occupation,” the settlements or even Jerusalem. It was there before all that, and we don’t understand why. The Jews have always tried to understand and appease anti-Semites too, but to no avail.
So when will we stop asking, “Will we forever live by the sword?” After all, there is a peace agreement, the armies are cooperating, we opened the American market to them, Jordanians are employed in Eilat. Is there anything we have not thrown into the open mouth of false peace, in the face of insatiable hatred?