A feature of imperialist and colonialist thinking is the predisposition to move subject populations from place to place like rootless pawns on a chessboard. Commonly indigenous populations have been ignored as if they did not exist, their homelands treated as vacant or terra nullius.
Zionism, the ultra-nationalist ideology of European Jewry born in the high imperial age of the late nineteenth century expressed these tendencies and more.
The founding Zionist ideologue Theodore Herzl in his diaries was quite explicit about the need to expel the Palestinians from Palestine. The English Zionist sympathiser and journalist Herbert Sidebotham, publishing in 1918 the volume England & Palestine: Essays Towards the Restoration of the Jewish State, managed to discuss the future of Palestine without making any reference to the Palestinian people in particular, and hardly any reference even to the Arab peoples in general.
Israeli leaders as prominent as David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir have looked from time to time to divide Palestine with the Hashemite dynasty which rules Jordan, the dynasty towards which Lawrence of Arabia was loyal.
Thus the persistent contributions of Zionist activist David Singer to On Line Opinion advocating the view that Palestinians should again be satisfied with Jordanian rule are nothing new. They are however historically bankrupt.
Jordan is not Palestine any more than New Zealand is Australia. The sense of belonging to place, the idea of homeland is what is at issue here. Whatever the ethnic affinities between Palestinians and Jordanians and Australians and New Zealanders, the displacement of the population of the former into the territory of the latter states would occasion disruption and chaos.
In the case of the Palestinians this tragic displacement has already occurred and is precisely the issue which needs to be addressed before peace can come to the region. In effect, the so called Jordanian solution to the Palestinian refugee problem applied defacto from 1948, when Palestine was ethnically cleansed and the State of Israel unilaterally declared, to September 1970, when King Hussein drove the Palestinian Liberation Organization out of Jordan.
Jordan as a bi-national Bedouin-Palestinian state simply failed. It cannot be resurrected except at gun point, and even then it would fail again. It would not bring peace but rather inflame conflict. That is why Jordan has relinquished all claim over the West Bank for some time now. The West Bank is simply too Palestinian to be ruled from Amman, the Jordanian capital, no matter how many displaced Palestinians now reside east of the Jordan. The so called Jordanian option is simply a figment of the extreme Zionist imagination, with its settler colonies and expansionist dreams of a Greater Israel extending to the Jordan River in the East and the Litani River in Southern Lebanon.
It is this nightmare of chauvinistic violation of international law which is gutting the two state solution with `facts on the ground'. The best hope may yet be for an evolution of Israel into a democratic multicultural state. One thing is certain. We are still living with the effects of the failed partition at gunpoint of 1948. To attempt to `partition' Palestine again along the line of the Jordan Rift Valley would be a retrograde `back to the future' step towards a Greater Israel which the Palestinians, the Israeli's and the world can well do without.
Dr David Faber is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide. He acts as historian for the Australian Friends of Palestinian Association in South Australia. AFOPA can be reached at www.afopa.com.au.
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