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Post Palestinians and Citizenship; A Visit to a Refugee Camp in Jordan
Created by John Eipper on 11/07/18 3:33 AM

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Palestinians and Citizenship; A Visit to a Refugee Camp in Jordan (Paul Pitlick, USA, 11/07/18 3:33 am)

In this discussion, perhaps one should clarify what "citizenship" means for Palestinian refugees.

About 15 years ago I visited a refugee camp in Jordan. While "refugee camp" brings to mind tents, etc., the Palestinian families in this camp lived in houses many years old, often with tanks for water storage on the roofs. The buildings were fairly substantial. Jordan does not have "birthright citizenship," which is Mr. Trump's latest distraction to stimulate his base (an appropriate term). Thus a baby born in Jordan does not automatically become a citizen of Jordan.

Most of the refugees are not citizens, going back several generations, and they are denied the benefits of citizenship. For example, when the babies grow up, they cannot join the military. This is significant because active duty and many retired military families receive their medical care through the military. As I recall, of the children born with heart defects in Jordan, about 1/3 of them receive their care, including surgery if necessary, through military hospitals. This is a resource not available to Palestinian babies, because they are not citizens.

I don't know about other Arab countries, but I suspect this is true of most, perhaps all.

JE comments:  Very important points, Paul.  I am still unclear on whether the Palestinians in Jordan are barred from citizenship, or whether it is a choice of the Palestinians themselves.  If the former, wouldn't it be in Jordan's interest to assimilate these often restive populations?

Our late colleague Miles Seeley visited the Jordanian camps in the 1960s, during his tenure with the CIA.  Half a century later, it seems little has changed:


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  • Palestinians with Jordanian Passports (Carmen Negrin, France 11/07/18 12:34 PM)

    Adding to Paul Pitlick's information (November 7th), when the Palestinians do get the passport, it will show that they are of Palestinian origin and they will not have access to the same jobs.

    JE comments:  Presumably this means Jordan?  I don't want to sound like too much of an apologist for any side, but why isn't there an outcry about "Jordanian Apartheid"?

    Carmen, could you share more of your experiences of working with the Palestinian refugees?

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    • My UNESCO Experiences with the Palestinians (Carmen Negrin, France 11/08/18 3:25 PM)

      John E asked me to elaborate on my experience working with Palestinian refugees.  I was not involved in work with the camps, just assisting in building ministries related to UNESCO's fields of competence.

      But the Palestinians didn't necessarily follow our recommendations. For instance the pyramidal structure and organization was always broken: if a staff member was friends with the Minister (Secretary), he/she would skip the hierarchy, creating a mess of disinformation within the Ministry. A long tradition to go against!

      We also suggested for example the separation of Culture and Tourism for the obvious reasons of the exploitation of a site versus its protection; this was not followed. We suggested certain limits for a protected historical zone in Bethlehem.  The next day we found out that in spite of Arafat's personal signed agreement, the Mayor made his own deal with a Japanese hotel chain in exchange for a road leading to his own home (I left before finding out if it was actually carried out).

      And so on. Agreements were broken by the Israeli government, as it was the case with the television station, which was bombed, as well as with Palestinians. But we did manage to help carry out some long-lasting positive changes, if anything an increase in awareness. Always frustrating to see how difficult it is to build and how easy it is to destroy!

      JE comments:  Alas, Carmen, your last sentence is wisdom for the ages.  Thank you for this frank appraisal.  There's something surreal about the Japanese running the inns of Bethlehem.  (No room at the inn, the manger option, etc.)

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