Sunday, November 14, 2004

<<=========== Take a gander over yonder. See that? that's what it's come down to. Well, actually, it's just another part of the grand plan to get to Washington D.C. and London to get research done for my M.A. thesis. So I thought i'd give a little insight into what this thesis business is all about. Well, it's on Black September: the 1970 Jordanian Civil War. Like i've said before, no one has ever throughly researched the topic. There are good reasons for this. One is that the archive material in D.C. and London has only recently been released (this is the stuff i need), beyond that there is the fact that the Jordanians don't talk about it for good reason, and the Palestinians don't talk about it for very good reason. After all, creating a violent state-within-a-state the way they did does not exactly come off as very endearing. So to this day no one knows for sure how many Palestinians were killed in the fighting (Arafat was screaming 30,000 dead when he met with Nasser a week into the war, but Red Crescent figures put it at 3,000). Most of the information out there has to do with the US, Israel, Britain, the USSR and the UN. Still, even lots of information on what these outside players were doing has only recently been released from the archives. What i can tell you is that the entire story is incredibly fascinating. It explains what happened in the formative years of the PLO after Arafat took power, the origination of airline hijacking for "political gain", the secret Israel-Jordanian relations, how the Arab states manipulated the Palestinian issue after '67, and how the middle east played into the cold war (more than one washington insider saw this as a possible lead into all out war between the superpowers). Perhaps most fascinating, it tells the story of the early attempts at making peace agreements between Israel and the Arab states. It shows how the patterns of what is attempted and what fails repeats itself in ways that are remarkably similar. Envoys and accords, inqueries and submissions. The events showed how treacherous Arafat could be, and the precarious position of King Hussein. The war solidified the Jordanian identity and served as a strong lesson to be learned by both the PLO and the Arab states in dealing with the organization.

The birth of modern terrorism, a cold war hotspot, famous players, a conflict that changed everything below the'd think someone would have tackled this issue. But alas, it has been swallowed between the events of 1967 and 1973.

Here are a couple of fun tidbits:

Two years after the war ended there were still mild pockets of fedayeen around Irbid, Jordan. The King had the army make one final sweep to fully rid the country of the problem. Some of the fedayeen chose to kill themselves and their families rather than surrender to the army, and about 200 fled across the Jordan towards Israel.

During the crisis Israeli Defense Minister Rabin called Secretary of State Kissinger to discuss Israel's calling up of its Air Force. Kissinger, desperatly seeking Nixon, finally found him...bowling in the basement of the Executive Office Building.


As for the grant hunt, it's still going on. Nothing new yet, but keep your fingers crossed. It's a bit of an odd topic, and the main actors in the story just wont fund it, especially when it's an Israeli-American writing it. Still, here's hoping...


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