Home inContext A Tale of Two Protests

A Tale of Two Protests

Erin Dwyer

The Israeli ambassador and his staff left their embassy in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Wednesday night one day ahead of a planned anti-Israel “million-man march.” While some news reports said the staff were evacuated, an Israeli foreign ministry official denied that claim, stating that the embassy routinely shuts down on Thursday and the staff’s departure was only expedited by a few hours.

Either way, the measure was seemingly taken as a precaution after last weekend’s protest against the Israeli embassy in Cairo. During the 13-hour rampage of Israel’s embassy, which forced the ambassador and his family to leave the country, hundreds of demonstrators tore down a security wall as Egyptian police looked on. After breaking into the building, protesters dumped documents out of the windows. Egyptian commandos, at the urging of the United States, eventually rescued six Israeli security men trapped inside.

A protester holds the Egyptian flag as a fire rages outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

But in Jordan the call for the “million-man march” — largely fueled by the Palestinian Authority’s statehood bid at the UN, and whose followers were demonstrating in support of closing the Israeli embassy, expelling the ambassador, and annulling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel — came and went without much steam. According to a New York Times report out Thursday evening, only about 200 protesters showed up, and Jordan was prepared with plenty of security officers on hand.

That the Jordanian authorities were willing to prepare themselves for a larger crowd and protect the Israeli building is welcoming news. Israel only has diplomatic relations with two Arab countries — Jordan and Egypt. Moreover, in the span of just ten days, Israeli ambassadors have been forced out of Turkey and Egypt, and essentially Jordan. Prior to the Arab uprisings, Israel’s diplomatic relations with these three countries provided a crutch of stability in an unpredictable region. The “Arab Spring,” it seems, will not be a spring-board for warm Arab-Israeli relations.