April 8, 2001
Jordan: Revisionist Historians Panel Postponed by Government Decree
As you probably know, there was supposed to be a Forum on Revisionist Historians in Amman at 6:30 this evening. However, on the night of Friday two days ago, the three speakers and the moderator of the proposed Forum received phone calls, some at one or two in the morning. Hayat Atiyah, Arafat Hijjazi, Ibrahim Alloush, and Hisham Ghassib were instructed to make themselves available at nine o'clock the following morning in the office of the Chief of Police in downtown Amman.
On Saturday morning, everybody went to the office of the Chief of Police with the exception of Dr. Hisham Ghassib who thought the phone call at two in the morning was some kind of practical joke. He was later tracked down in the University where he is dean, and summoned to the office of Talat Nawayseh, the Governer of Amman, along with the other three participants in the Forum. The head of Preventive Security, the Chief of Police, and another high-ranking officer in civilian clothes were all present at the meeting as well. After inquiring about the Forum on Revisionist Historians, the Governer said: "This Forum will have to be postponed, as it is affecting His Majesty's visit to the United States rather negatively!"
The four participants in the Forum objected to the postponement and argued against it. Dr. Hisham Ghassib objected to the principle of being summoned by officials of the Ministry of the Interior without having committed any violation of the law. Dr. Ibrahim Alloush objected to the principle of executive branch interference in the functioning of the institutions of civil society and in intellectual activities [that do not even pertain to the Jordanian regime or normalization with "Israel"]. Hayat Atiyah and Arafat Hijjazi argued that they are not even members of the Jordanian Writers Association and thus should not be the ones with whom the postponement is discussed, as the Forum is an activity sponsored by the Jordanian Writers Association. The pressure to postpone the Forum lasted all before noon. Eventually, the heads of security and the Governer made clear that the Forum would be postponed regardless. They went out of the room, called Fakhri Qawar, the President of the Jordanian Writers Association, then came back and called the meeting to an end [but not before pointing out to Ibrahim Alloush that he keeps on writing as if there is no government in town!].
In the meantime, and before the Governer's call, it seems that the Minister of Culture, Mahmoud Al Kayed, had called the President of the Jordanian Writers Association as well. The Minister of Culture told Fakhri Qawar that he was informing him on orders from Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb, who was acting on orders from King Abdallah himself, that the Forum on Revisionist Historians in Amman must be postponed because it was affecting their visit to the United States negatively. But could that be due to Zionist pressure, or else, could it be due to Zionist pressure?! It must be one of the two of course.. And the question always remains: to succumb or not to succumb.
Part II: A Discussion on Revisionist Historians in the Evening
On the eve of the same day, Saturday, April 7, 2001, Palestinian grass-roots leader Bahjat Abu Gharbiyah was speaking at the Association against Zionism and Racism to commemorate Land Day, the Deir Yassin Massacre, and the Right of Return. The hall was packed. There was standing room only. Ali Hattar, a member of the board of the Association against Zionism and Racism who was just released from jail three days earlier, walked in to a cheering crowd. After Bahjat Abu Gharbiyah finished his outstanding presentation, Ali Hattar gave a moving speech in which he vowed to continue his work against normalization with "Israel", for which he was jailed, and for which he is due to go on trial soon. Then, the whole event turned into an open discussion on the events of the day and the government's order to postpone the Forum on Historical Revisionism. Speaker after speaker rose up spontaneously to declare their support for revisionist historians and to condemn the betrayal of the "Arab" intellectuals who called on the Lebanese government to ban the Conference on Zionism and Historical Revisionism in Beirut, Lebanon. It was a fabulous gathering.
Part III: The Event at the Jordanian Writers Association
The Jordanian Writers Association did not issue a statement postponing the Forum on Revisionist Historians. News of the postponement spread, however. Still, dozens of people showed up for the event. Among those who were supposed to speak, only Hisham Ghassib and Ibrahim Alloush were there. Fakhri Qawar, the president of the Jordanian Writers Association, opened with a declaration of postponement which included a vehement objection to the precedent of meddling in the affairs of Jordanian intellectuals by the Ministry of the Interior. Drs. Hisham Ghassib and Ibrahim Alloush then spoke briefly to explain what had transpired and why historical revisionism is such a serious threat to Zionism that merits official interference at the highest levels.
Fakhri Qawar then made the following declarations on the behalf of the Jordanian Writers Association:
Part IV: Forthcoming
Zionists on the left and the right and Zionified "Arabs" have not heard the last of this yet. This is only the beginning ..