How Denmark Became A Jordanian Distraction

This issue regarding the Danish cartoons is like a monkey on the nation’s back: it just won’t go away! The redundant quality to it has rendered it even more absurd than the first time around, which by now feels like ages ago! It’s like beating a dead dog with a stick.

On the front page of Al-Ghad the other day, right up there in big bold letters were the headlines: “MP’s call on the government to cancel peace agreement and all cooperation with Denmark”. The headline is actually a two-parter since the peace agreement they’re referring to is that with Israel. The only thing worse than this actually being a story that is worthy to be on the front page, above the fold, or even equivalent to the Kingdom’s strained relationship with Israel, is the fact that Members of Parliament actually took the time to discuss this issue during the session to the extent of which they did! In fact, 48 MP’s ended up calling on the expulsion of both the Israeli and Danish ambassadors during the same session, with neither motion being put to a vote.

…Not just supermarkets are involved in the boycott; a full fledged “Messenger of Allah Unites Us” campaign has the support of tens of parliamentarians, around 40 media outlets, thousands of volunteers and professional associations.

The media campaign has decided to institute legal action against media outlets that were involved in “demeaning Prophet Mohammad”, arguing that the actions violated the universal declaration of human rights and several articles of the Jordanian Penal Code.

But because of Jordan’s close ties with European countries and larger issues at stake, many have questioned the selective method of the consumer boycott and its adverse affect on local businessman. [source]

I find boycotts ironic sometimes, especially in Jordan. But forget about the shooting-yourself-in-the-foot quality that comes with hurting local businesses here in Jordan more than the Danish media in Denmark. Forget about the fact that people are boycotting Danish butter but are still taking their insulin shots (80% of which are imported from Denmark). Forget about the irony of the pirated DVD shop, Hammudeh, posting “Don’t buy Danish products” on its door. Instead, think about this:

Why is no one boycotting local goods by local producers whose prices have skyrocketed, some of which have gone unchecked by the consumer protection society (in my opinion)? Isn’t that the natural reaction? Why were no boycotts issued for Israeli products or more specifically American products, over the massacres happening in Palestine?

I ask these questions not to urge such boycotts but to point out the irony of Jordanian’s having chosen to boycott something utterly ridiculous in light of much more serious issues.

Produce prices have gone up.

Bread prices have gone up. We even have to pay for the plastic bags they put them in now.

Fuel prices have gone up.

Dairy prices have gone up.

Real wages have stayed the same.

Where is the outcry there? Where is the outrage over an issue that hits closest to home? Where is the mass mobilization and campaigns and vibrant speeches in the Parliament by our “representatives”?


So you’ve gotta ask yourself: what the hell is going on here? Is this a way for Jordanians to forget: by investing their anger in an issue of little or no significance? Or are “we” really being misled, with the national media helping to steer the boat through the waters of misconception, or rather, misdirection? I pray the latter assumption is false because it would mean we are generally too unintelligent to think for ourselves and prioritize, giving in to the whims of the media.

But then again, with prices being so high these days, maybe people just aren’t getting their vitamins.

Maybe they’re just not thinking straight.


  • “I pray the latter assumption is false because it would mean we are generally too unintelligent to think for ourselves and prioritize, giving in to the whims of the media.”..I’m afraid to tell you that the latter explanation is most likely true! Jordanians have no agency when deciding their priorities, and so it becomes easy for the government and media to distract them! As your title says it all: Denmark has become a Jordanian distraction!

  • I agree that Jordanians do exaggerate this issue. There are better things to worry about such as Gaza and the gap between poor and rich in Jordan.

  • Not only is the boycott a distraction, its impact has had the opposite effect than intended, or more likely is that the people calling for the boycott did not consider the consequences.

    When people reacted with a boycott, they fell into his trap, gave him fame, and made the Europeans consider him a champion of freedom of speech when in fact, he was simply being shallow, rude, and seeking attention. I’ll bet he’ll be writing a book soon, and making money of their reaction. On a grander scale, assassins have historically targeted famous people simply to seek their own fame.

    I agree we need to look closer to home. On the other hand you are suggesting that an outcry against price inflation would bring results. Has it ever in our past ?

  • Thank you Nas, Oh Voice of Reason. I think the major insult to Islam is the modern tradition of majoring in the minors. Did you see Mona Eltahawy’s post mentioning this?

    Makes me what what is being covered up, and if maybe you should watch your back!

  • Nas, reviving the whole Danish thing seems like a smokescreen that is intended to keep people from realizing the real issues here at home.

  • Hani: I think it has the potential to bring about the desired results if it is organized carefully and on a mass level. However my point was not about results but rather priorities.

    Hareega: don’t mention my name in the law suit.

    Farah: that’s one cartoon I sadly agree with.

    Dave: you summed up my entire post in a single sentence. good stuff.

  • I suggest we boycout Dhabi government since that when he started this new Government all we saw was the increase in prices of every single product, service and commudity, but how can we boycout the Government?

  • I can`t believe we are paying the salary of the MP from our taxes so they can go discussing issues like this, come on get over it, move to more important issues, like health care, education, and woman rights …

  • During my early years of graduate school–before I ever set foot in Jordan or Egypt– I used to be highly sympathetic to accusations against Israel, Europe, and the U.S. from developing countries. These explanations generally blame the economic failure of developing countries on natural resource exploitation from colonial and neo-colonial powers, durable authoritarianism on the political support of the U.S., and the homogenization of values on the globalization of Western popular culture. With regards to the Middle East, all three of these outcomes are often blamed on Israel and its American backers.

    But I have to say, the more time I spend in the Middle East, the more these types of explanations anger me. Even though these arguments come from developing countries, they absolve the latter (governments and civil society alike) of all responsibility for suboptimal economic outcomes, bad politics, and the degradation of traditional values. I can accept that the West is responsible for some of the developing world’s evils, but not all of them. More often, I think that these accusations are leveled to distract popular opinion from the weaknesses of LDC governments, which is what you are arguing here, and/or the laziness of civil society groups to demand more from their governments. If hatred of the West isn’t enough distraction for Middle Eastern audiences, it’s also useful to throw in the Israel card as well. Thus we get a headline from Al Ghad reporting that parliamentarians have called for the expulsion of not only the Danish Ambassador (for the cartoons) but also the Israeli ambassador (for no related reason, but it serves to get people all hot and bothered). After repeated use of these scapegoats, the Arab street seems almost conditioned to blame external forces for everything rather than looking towards their own governments– and themselves.

    I think it’s about time that people started demanding more. Why, when prices are so high, does he public continue to have its mind on cartoons? And why, Nas, would a boycott be the best response to the problem of high prices? The problem is much deeper. People need to demand a study of the forces driving inflation. Why are prices rising? Are greedy producers or sellers simply seeking greater profits? Has an injection of foreign money from the Gulf caused demand-driven inflation? Or has the government simply stopped subsidizing these goods (in which case little can be done, since the deficit is growing)? After the problem is identified, different groups can then develop *specific policy platforms* corresponding with their economic interests. Only then can the issue be addressed. A boycott is too crude of a tool, especially when people could not feasibly boycott the goods that have been subject to the greatest rise in prices–staples like produce, meat, cereals, and fuel. They would only be hurting themselves.

    People need to get smart and start informing themselves about the problems in society that affect them, not jut yelling in the street until the next handout comes along.

  • “over the massacres happening in Palestine?”

    Like when an Arab runs into a school and kills eight children for fun?

    Or when civilians in Gaza are hit by Israelis shooting back at terrorists hiding among those civilians?

    Just asking. Sometimes the word “massacre” is used to describe solely killings by Jews, regardless of how they happened.

    I am afraid that when the Israeli governments kills somebody who tries to murder me, I will be complicit in a “massacre”. Will I? How much is my life worth? Do the terrorists have a right to kill me or does the Israeli government have the right to stop them?

    Alternatively, we can say that the Arab murdering Jewish children in a school was “resisting” while Israel shooting at terrorists is “oppression”. I don’t care. I just want to know which is which.

    Have there been many cases of wars where one side hid among civilians and there were fewer civilian casualties still? How does Israel compare to other countries in the same situation?

    Arab terrorists are killing hundreds of people every week in Iraq, Arab militias are killing tens of thousands of people every year in Sudan, the Egyptian border police are murdering Sudanese refugees trying to get into Israel, but Israel killing a small number if Arab civilians because terrorists are shooting from civilian positions is a “massacre”. Don’t you think there is something wrong with your perception of the world when the word “massacre” is no longer related to numbers or incident but to who commits it?

    Why don’t you ask the terrorists to stop shooting rockets at Israel? Or at least ask them not to do so from residential areas. Are you afraid they are not willing to compromise on killing Jews or endangering civilians? Why do you think Israel should?

    Are many Arabs worried that a Jew might run into a school and kill a few children?

  • “Are many Arabs worried that a Jew might run into a school and kill a few children?”

    no not really. we know they prefer to use tanks, jets, rockets and missiles.

    i think the running hurts their feet.

  • “no not really. we know they prefer to use tanks, jets, rockets and missiles.”

    So when exactly has it happened that Israel, Israelis, or Jews have simply attacked an Arab school using “tanks, jets, rockets and missiles”?

    You are clinging to the principle that whatever inhumanity the Arab terrorists possess must obviously be matched by the Jews.

    There are many Arab schools in Israel. Have you ever heard that one of them was subject to a massacre because some Jew decided to throw a missile at it or try out his tank? (Although I assume the Arab terrorists might hit an Arab school with their rockets occasionally.)

    Or does the Israeli army fire at Arabs from Jewish schools and therefor draw fire unto those schools?

    No, my friend, the moral relativism doesn’t work. The truth is that an Arab can walk through a Jewish city without being harmed while a Jew cannot walk through an Arab city with the same peace of mind.

    Has it ever occurred to you that, maybe, the Israelis are not shooting Arabs for fun and wouldn’t ever harm any Arab civilians if the terrorists would either stop trying to murder Jews or at least not murder them from the “safety” of human shields? Why do the terrorists surround their position with children? Do they believe that Jews wouldn’t shoot at their human shields?

    When I studied in Israel I shared a university dorm with Arabs. Can you even imagine an Arab country where such integration was possible?

    And, incidentally, Arab terrorists fired rockets at those very university dorms (presumably “resisting” “oppression” by Jewish and Arab students).

    When you go to school or send your children to school, do you have ANY fear that a Jew might kill you or your children?

    If you do, I can assure you of two things: I would condemn the attack AND not condemn you for defending yourself against the attack, even and also if the attacking Jew was hiding among Jewish civilians, firing rockets into your village, and the Israeli government refused to punish him.

    Can you say the same to me about a Jewish school and an Arab attacker?

    But if the Israeli army shoots back at terrorists trying to murder me, my friend, I have absolutely no reason to assume, like you apparently do, that Arab civilian lives are more valuable than mine.

    The Arabs have the option to stop the violence, Israel does not.

    And if you don’t think that’s true, you might wonder just why it was the Arab countries who attacked Israel in 1948 and what exactly Israel has to gain from killing Arabs.

    Israel gains her survival, nothing else.

    I _know_ that some Arabs attack Jewish civilians. But I have _never_ heard of Jews attacking Arab civilians without being attacked by them first or without being condemned for it by Israeli society and her government.

    It seems like the only Arabs Israel kills are terrorists and those civilians they use as human shields.

    Arabs uninvolved do not usually fear Jewish attacks. Tell me if it ever happens to you.

  • “So when exactly has it happened that Israel, Israelis, or Jews have simply attacked an Arab school using “tanks, jets, rockets and missiles”?”

    is that supposed to be a joke? how many times are students on the beirzeit campus ALONE attacked? every few weeks. this is to say nothing of schools that have been demolished by the apartheid wall and the school children who get pelted with stones by settlers in hebron. the list is endless and is daily.

    “No, my friend, the moral relativism doesn’t work”

    you can’t call us friends and terrorists at the same time. moreover, absolutes don’t work in this conflict.

    “But if the Israeli army shoots back at terrorists trying to murder me, my friend, I have absolutely no reason to assume, like you apparently do, that Arab civilian lives are more valuable than mine.”

    how many israeli lives have been lost to ‘arab terrorist rocketfire’, in addition to suicide bombings, and how many Palestinians have died from Israeli attacks. i think the numbers alone have determined the market value for life in this conflict. moreover don’t assume anything and call it fact. i am personally against suicide bombings as a method of resistance, and i am against rockets launched from gaza, as i am against the killing of israeli students by that gunman, as i am against the loss of any civilian death, be they Palestinian or Israel. i am pro-peace and pro-two state solution, but every action Israel undertakes, whether it attacks refugee camps, kills kids, women, and anything that bloody moves or has a pulse, or building walls to cage people in, denying them movement, or building illegal settlements or annexing more and more and more and more and more and more and more of their land every single day…says to me and the rest of the arab world that the last thing Israel is interested in is peace.

    but if i, as an arab (“terrorist”) am willing to admit that some palestinians have blood on their hands, why are you so keen on believing Israel is completely innocent in everything it does?

    the israeli war machine is so huge that every action it takes is like the elephant in the room that zionists love to ignore. it doesn’t make the elephant or his atrocities disappear, it just speaks to a level of ignorance held on to with arrogant hands.

  • Nas-

    What an old, worn, propogandizied arguement. Dude, please come up with something new…

    But let’s go with the old tried mantra…

    Palestinian terrorism…from its inception…has always targeted civilians…going back at least 80 years…bombings in cafes, hijackings, attacks in schools, sucide bombings in places like teen clubs, public busses.

    Israeli responses have very rarely been directed at civilian populations. If these terrorists would put on a uniform and not purposely blend in with those they proport to protect, there would be even lower civilian casualities.

    Nas…really…people like you have no shame? You talk about Jewish massacre of Palestinians…what about;

    Lebanese massarcre of Palestinians
    Palestinian murder of Palestinians
    Sudenes slaughter of Darfurians
    Syrian bloodsucking of the Lebanese
    Iraqi slaughter of the Kurds
    How about Iranian and Iraqis killing about 1/2 million apiece?

    That is just a start…and hardly a word from folks like you Nas…and that is becasue you hate Jews far more than you love your own people…and it blinds you.

    The Palestinian/Israeli issue is painful…and both sides have a share…But your hyperbole is just absurd.

  • Mo…

    I will remind you…

    About 5,000 years ago…God told your forefather and mine, Abraham to leave Iraq and travel to what is today Israel…He had two boys…one became the nation of the Arabs, the other the nation of the Jews…

    The Arabs got a piece of land that spans from Lebanon to the border of Iraq…the Jews got a piece of land the size of New jersey.

    The Jews went through slavery, exile, civil war and invasions. Finally, around the year 70…almost all Jews were kicked out of their country by the Romans. After the Romans, the country was invaded and ruled by any number of people, Egyptians, Syrians, Europeans, and most recently, Turks and the English.

    Then…in the 1900’s…when all kinds of countries where being realigned and even INVENTED (like Jordan and Iraq)…we got a chance to get our little piece back.

    There were definitely people there…who had lived under Turkish rule for the past 400 years who later began to call themselves Palestinians. They people of the area were offered a deal of sharing that property with the jews getting a tiny little sliver. Those people and their neighbors rejected the UN acceptance of that division and tried to kill all of us and they lost. And then they tried to kill us again…and they lost…then they tried to kill us again…and they lost.

    They rejected every offer of peace and keep on trying to kill us and then when we fight back..they say we are trying to massarce them.

    And that…in short…is how Israel was founded…and then re-founded.

  • On a lighter note:

    Peace was achieved with Egypt with the entire Sinai being returned.

    There is a peace agreement for what…10 years with Jordan…and hardly a problem on the border with both sides pretty solidly respecting that agreeement.

    This is certainly a cold peace since so many of you still hate us…but a peace both sides have respected.

    Is there hope for something with the Palestinians? Right now I don’t see it…too many of them still want to go the macho route…at least those who have usurped power.


  • hmm, is your name andrew .. no it isnt .. so why did you answer hmmm o_0

    anyway since you took the trouble to write that crap i guess i owe you some kind of comment ..
    first of all, hahahaha do you honestly think that kind of bs flies around here .. talking about romans and abraham having two sons 5000 years ago .. how is any of that even relevant ..
    it would have been more appropriate if you had mentioned words like “zionism” and “balfour” and “irgun” and “haganah” .. these are much much more relevant in my opinion ..

  • Mo…

    Of course that works for you…because it supports your argument 😉

    You see…your points ARE important and they ARE factors and bad things DID happen to Palestinians…oh…and not just at the hands of Jews…why didn’t people get excited at the Brits and Turks? Hmmm

    But anyhow…yes we have issues…why did I chime in? Because I get the sense most of us here may not much agree with each other…but I would bet MOST of us do not, because we see things different, want to KILL each other.

    So I choose to talk to you and those like you because folks like us need to talk and start to understand each other because that is a source of hope…

    I choose the route of hope

  • “anyway you said that “folks like us need to talk” .. no thanks dude”

    Dude makes our point far better than we could make it ourselves…

    Go get ’em Mo…fire a Kassam or something…be a big man.

Your Two Piasters: