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May 31, 2013

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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 31, 2013 Dilema From page 1A -new pressure to advance the i sue. But ratcheting up the pressure on Poland poses an acute dilemma for U.S. policymakers. The country's outlier status--it is the sole Eu- ropean country that does not offer private property restitution to survivors of the Holocaust or their heirs makes it an obvious target for Jewish activists. But Poland is also among the most reliable U.S. al- lies and has close relations with Israel and American Jewish groups. Poland's foreign minister. Radoslaw Sikorski, will be featured next month as a guest at the American Jewish Com- mittee's annual conclave. Perhaps as a result, few Jewish officials ,)r mem- bers of Congress were willing to discuss the issue on the record. Requests for comment from the Polish Foreign Ministry and the Polish Embassy in Wash- ington were not answered. Efforts to pressure the Poles have remained large- ly in the realm of the rhe- torical, with no legislation proposed to address the problem as was done in the past on other thorny issues of Holocaust restitution, like unpaid Holocaust-era insurance policies. In January, during con- firmation hearings for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the co-chair of the congressional Com- mittee on Security and Cooperation in Europe, sought reassurances that Kerry would continue to press Poland on the issue. Cardin noted that Poland tells heirs seeking compen- sation to turn to the coun- try's courts, an arduous and expensive process. It's also a process likely to fail because the government refuses to advance legisla- tion that could underPin such litigation. Recourse to the courts, "a process that presents insurmountable obstacles for most victims of prop- erty theft and especially victims of the Holocaust, will ultimately be futile for most claimants, and even for a tiny fraction of suc- cessful claimants would be drawn out and needlessly burdensome." Cardin said. Kerry replied that he would "continue to encour- age Poland to address prop- erty claimants' concerns quickly and fairly." More recently, Wendy Sherman, the undersec- retary of state for political affairs, brought up restitu- tion in a March 17 security ~meeting with Polish of- ficials. Douglas Davidson. the State Department's special envoy on the Holocaust. also is deeply involved in advancing the restitution issue, Jewish organiza- tional leaders said. David- son, who was t`raveling, could not be reached for comment. Jewish officials also said that the Obama adminis- tration has been engaged on the issue, with the president himself bringing it up in his meetings with Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister. Such entreaties, how- ever. have largely failed to move the Polish govern- m nt. In November, Poland sent only a low-le el dip lomat to .a conference in Prague on restituting private property. The con- ference featured the pre- sentation of a paper by the Claims Conference and the World Jewish Restitution Organization" describing the treatme nt of the resti- tution issue by successive Polish governments as a backward trajectory. "While the government has issued numerous draft laws with respect to regu- lating private property restitution, Poland 'has never enacted a single law pertaining to immovable properties seized from pri- vate owners in the country during the Holocaust era and its aftermath," the paper said. In part, the pri blem is a result of vastly decreased U.S. leverage over Poland, where the restitution of private property "remains deeply unpopular because of the potential for up- heaval among the current residents of the properties. Restituting communal property such as syna- gogues and graveyards is more straightforward. Moreover, nations that once cultivated U.S. Jews in their quest for member- ship in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are now members of the alli- ance. And they have thriv- ing economies, to boot. "It's a different world than it was 10 years ago for these countries," one Jew- ish official said. "Poland is becoming a wealthier country than it was 10 years ago. An official of another Jewish group, speal ing on background, said one avenue of pressure could be to withhold Jewish sup- port for Poland achieving visa waiver status, a mea- sure that would allow its citizens to enter the United States for 90 days without a prearranged visa. But Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Com- mittee's international Jew- ish affairs director, said such a move would be counterproductive. "These issk es are not popular with the domestic constituencies in any of the Eastern Europeans coun- tries where we've pressed it," Baker said. "The last' thing we want is to make it more unpopular." Jordan From page 1A its neighbors like Syria, who have been ravaged by the Arab Spring. "First of all the country in religion terms has a relative- ly homogenous population. unlike other neighboring countries like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon that are deeply divided on a sectarian basis," Susser told The Jordanian monarchy "has a certain level of legiti- macy as descendants from the Pr()phet Mohammed," Susser explained. "Also, the idea of heredi- tary rule is something that is quite customary in the Middle East. These people have more legitimacy than military or republican re- gimes [like Syria and Egypt]. These factors, combined with the fact that Jordan is geopolitically central and close to a lot'of big powers. [mean] there is a lot who want to not see Jordan fail," Susser said. Jordan's Hashemite mon- archy has been able to maintain power for nearly a century, while other gov- ernments in Egypt, Iraq and Syria have fallen numerous times. The stability has per- sisted despite the large influx of Palestinian refugees from various Arab-Israeli wars. including Jordan's illegal occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem from 1948-1967. Since then. the Palestin- ian situation has been a per- plexing problem for Jordan's monarchy. Unlike many oth- er neighboring Arab coun- tries. Jordan has granted citizenship and rights to its Palestinian community. But the Palestinian community hasalso long been treated as second-class citizens and viewed with suspicion by Jordan's tribal community, who control many important state institutions, including the military and domestic security forces. "From a long-term per- spective, the Palestinians were the unsettled element in Jordan. and the tribes of the East Bank were the stal- wart support forlhe monar- chy..This was most evident in 1970. in Black September. when the Palestinians got close to overthrowing the monarchy," Pipes told INS. org. Today, as in the past, tensions between Jordan's native East Bank tribal com- munity and the urban Pales- tinian community form the basis of Jordan's problems. This has all been exacerbated by economic and political reforms undertaken by King Abdullah over the past de- cade. as well as the instability of the Arab Spring, which has plunged neighboring Syria into chaos, thereby flood- ing Jordan with nearly half a million Syrian refugees. "[The] East Bank elite relied on the government for jobs and wealth, while the Palestinians have long been disenfranchised from this system. However, ironically, the Palestinians' wealth is growing from private sector and the economic reforms. This has caused great resentment from East Bankers. many of whom feel King Abdullah lacks the legitimacy of his [late] father King Hussein. He is less trusted amongst East Bankers," Susser said. Rather than the Palestin- ian problem. Pipes cited a deterioration of support for the monarchy among the traditionally stalwart East Bank tribal community as one of the biggest challenges King Abdullah is facing. "The problem, from the Call us Today 40 Caring for you in j/our home or facility part-time or 24 hours 7 days a week. We always provide a C.N.A. Laundry Range of Motion Exercises Light housekeeping Errands & Transportation Alzheimer's & Dementia Care Bath ing/Transferring/Toileting ;I Call us TODAY for details... .... . atatec~fgkAHCkki:~r~#NR~,02{~4,$, Stat~fFLA~,.ICAkice~se# 23"10121nsumdandbol'~dr~d point of view of the monar- chy, is now more the tribes than the Palestinians, who simply are not disruptive in the way they were in the past," Pipes said. The growing distrust of the loyal East Bank tribes, coupled with an emboldened lslamist Muslim Brother- hood opposition (which draws considerable support from the Palestinian com- munity) that has played a major role in the revolutions in Tunisia. Egypt and Syria, presents one of the most difficult challenges the mon- archy has ever faced. When the "Arab Spring began, instead of seeing it negatively, Jordan seized it "as an opportunity to insti- tute reforms," according to Fawaz Bilbeisi, director of the Jordan Economic and Commerce Bureau at the Jordanian Embassy to the United States. "We established a commis- sion to look at our situation and to discuss what are the value propositions of the country. Where do we want to see ourselves in 10 or 20 years?" Bilbeisi told Nevertheless, Jordan faced widespread protests in No- vember 2012 over cuts to fuel subsidies as part of a loan program from the In- ternational Monetary Fund (IMF). Many analysts at the time speculated that this would lead to popular revolt. But after a relatively benign government crackdown, by Middle East standards, the protests quickly dissipated. "In the spirit of the Arab Spring, a lot of people took to the street and expressed their dismay. One of them is the economic reform, Jordan always been a country with an open economy and asso- ciated itself with the liberal camp, not the socialist camp. As part of this in the early 1990s we started to liberal- ize the country... We are steady on this track and are fully convinced that this the right way for the country," Bilbeisi said. Bilbeisi. however, noted that King Abdullah has established a commission to address the people's con- cerns and make improve- ments. "His Majesty has formed a commission to review the privatization process," Bilbeisi said. "I think it is a process that is worth reviewing and looking back into. It doesn't mean we are backtracking, just some cor- rection and improvement for the future." The Muslim Brotherhood, meanwhilel boycotted Jor- dan's most recent elections and continues to trouble the regime.. "They choose not to be part of our political process. At the end of the day, the government and His Majesty the king, has been part of an advanced political reform. We reformed over one-third of our constitution. He [King Abdullah] has reached out to them [the Muslim Brgther- hood] many times to encour- age them to be part of the political process, but they choose to go to the streets instead. Today they only get a few hundred people at their rallies," Bilbeisi said. Susser echoed a similar as- sessment, saying the initial appeal of the Muslim Broth- erhood, which followed the first Arab Spring protests, has declined in Jordan due to the current chaos in Egypt and Syria. "The Arab Spring has gone very sour'and the appeal of the Muslim Brotherhood is not very high today. The situation in Egypt is hurt- ing their image in Jordan and the bloodbath in Syria is not very appealing either for Jordanians," Susser said. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Jordan's King Ab 'allah have long had a tenuous relationship. Abdul- lah, allied closely with the West and Sunni Gulf States, has been wary of Assad's close relationship with Iran. But despite their personal disdain, tiny Jordan has accepted more than half a million Syrian refugees,who now equal nearly 10 percent of Jordan's population. "Jordan should be recog- nized by the fact that it has allowed in the Syrian refu- gees. It is a huge resource drain for the state and is an enormous undertaking," Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch who is based in Am- man, told Jordan, in fact, is barely managing the refugee situ- ation, )hich Bilbeisi said has exacerbated the state's budget deficit and driven up poverty and unemployment among Jordanians, who now must compete with Syrians for low-wage jobs. "For now Jordanians are accepting the refugee situ- ation because they are feel solidarity with their Syrian brothers. But we never know after a few months how Jor- danians will deal with it as their numbers continue to increase," Bilbeisi said. Jordan has appealed to the United Nations to help assist the country in dealing with the Syrian humanitarian disaster. "I don't think people re- ally know where things are headed at this point. There is a general idea that the se- curity situation is declining, as well as the major Syrian refugee situation. There is also simmering popular discontent with the pace of reforms and whether or not there have been true reforms at all. In our assessment it is a mixed bag; some reforms have been good and some have not been good. Whether or not this Would lead to popular revolt against the monarchy is still an open question,, Coogle said. Jordan's situation re- mains tenuous, but the ambitious reforms under- taken by King Abdullah to stay ahead of the Arab Spring have so far yielded positive results. Yet Jordan's large Palestinian population and strained relations with the tribal base remain a continuous threat to the monarchy. While Israel, the U.S., and the rest of the world witness the situ- ation in Syria with horror, Jordan is comparatively overlooked--but that might not be the case for long. "Jordan suffers from the fact that it was created by Winston Churchill almost a century ago. It's still not .quite fully a country. Its neighbors, and indeed some of its residents, see it as not a country, and so there's an element~)f insecurity that is always present there, and could be absorbed by some- one else," Pipes said.