Jordan, Israel’s neighbor, has a nuclear program. And, unlike Iran, Jordan and Israel actually have a history of military confrontation. So why isn’t Israel barking?
Yes, Israel has a peace treaty with Jordan, but if the Israeli and American hawks set their sights on Jordan’s nuclear ambitions, they would shriek that a peace treaty is not enough to secure Israel’s future. They would demand Jordan halt its uranium enrichment and dismantle its facilities.
If Jordan refused, and insisted that its nuclear program was for civilian purposes – as Iran has – Israeli leaders would threaten that Israel will do what she “has to do” to protect herself and the future of the Jewish people (more than half of which, mind you, do not live in Israel). I can just hear Netanyahu saying something like “Israel won’t hang its fate on a piece of paper.”
Then there are the Palestinians, a group that constitutes more than half of Jordan’s population. If the Palestinians and Palestinian refugees are really as fearsome and bloodthirsty as Israel makes them out to be – if the Palestinians are indeed terrorists bent on Israel’s destruction – wouldn’t a nuclear program in a country where they constitute more than half the population be of concern to Israel?
So why isn’t Israel barking about Jordan’s nuclear program? Because Jordan is a U.S. ally; because Jordan is open to Western influence.
Some would argue it’s also because Jordan’s program is for civilian purposes. But, the same could be said of Iran. In fact, American intelligence agencies believe that Iran stopped working towards a nuclear weapon in 2003.
As for Iran’s so-called intent to wipe Israel off the map, Jordan and Israel have actually had military confrontations, during the 1948 War and the Six Day War in 1967. If you had to pick who is a bigger threat, would you pick the kid you exchanged words with or the one who you actually had a fist fight with?
Regarding anti-Semitism, Iran has the largest Jewish community in the Middle East, outside of Israel. Ever heard of Jordanian Jews?
That’s not to say that Jordanians are anti-Semitic but, yes, like most places in the world, there is anti-Semitism in Jordan. When I was in Jordan recently on a reporting trip, I attended a pro-reform protest in Amman. At one point the crowd chanted “Jews are pigs” and many an interviewee told me that they want to see a Palestine free of Jews. Still, Israel and the United States aren’t up in arms about Jordan’s nuclear program.
One last point: according to a 2010 study, Jordan is the fifth most militarized country in the world, with Israel, Singapore, Syria, and Russia taking the top four spots, in that order.
According to the same research, Iran came in as the 32nd most militarized country in the world, lagging far behind Israel’s neighbors Jordan and Syria.
By Israeli political standards, it sounds like a real formula for disaster, right? Israel’s neighbor – a highly militarized country with a history of armed conflict with Israel, a country full of Palestinian refugees, a country in which the largest political opposition party is the Islamic Action Front, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood – has a nuclear program. Yet Israel and the United States are mum, suggesting that the Palestinians, Islamists, and nuclear programs aren’t the existential threat Israel pretends them to be.
Sort of makes you wonder what all the fuss about Iran is really about, doesn’t it?