Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-Dec-12: You were thinking of a vacation in Jordan? Perhaps think again.

Skullcaps: "Provoked the sensibilities of Jordanians" [Image Source]
A handy reminder of the not-inconsiderable distance that exists between Western notions of fairness and civil conduct, and the standards of the Arab world, when it comes to Jews and Israelis.

Times of Israel reports on the news of a decision of the Kingdom of Jordan today to warn tourists that they should not perform "Jewish rituals" or wear "Jewish garb" when visiting the Hashemite Kingdom.

A report of the decision made by Jordan's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities appears in Arabic on the website of the Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents (here). It does not throw any light on the meaning of "Jewish rituals" or wear "Jewish garb", but we assume the Jordanians mean to give those terms their widest possible meaning: if you look like a Jew, then stop it or else don't come to our place.

If you go to the English pages of the Ministry's website now, you will see no mention of today's ruling. The site does however give prominence to a three month old report about Jordan and Australia seeking to improve mutual trade ties.

In June 2012 [report here], six Israeli tourists were assaulted in a market in southern Jordan earlier this year. Seems local vendors in the town of Rabba became angered by the kippot (skullcaps) on the heads of the men in the group:
The vendor proceeded to assault the men with shoes, a symbol of disdain in Arab culture. The Israeli tourists fled the area in their cars as buyers joined the attack... No information was reported on their condition or if they remained in Jordan. “Israelis are not wanted in the market,” a shopper told Al-Arab Al-Yawm. “Those who talk about peace between Israelis and Jordanians are delusional. The signed agreements are nothing but ink on paper. They are meaningless.” [More]
There's no mention of any measures taken by Jordanian authorities - then or since - to educate their citizens in the basics of how to show hospitality to tourists - yes, even Jewish tourists - or on the need for tolerance and understanding for the ethnic customs and religious practices of people professing a lifestyle different to the one prevailing in Jordan.

Tourism is one of the most important sectors of Jordan's economy [Wikipedia]. In 2010, the kingdom attracted more than 4 million tourists, with tourist receipts amounting to about US3.5 Billion. Jordan's 2011 gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $29.2 Billion.

A pity you have to read about this in insignificant places like this blog. Imagine the uproar if Israel imposed something like this on non-Jewish visitors. And where, by the way, is the outrage of the global tourism industry at this scandalous announcement by one of the Arab world's most liberal regimes?

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