The untold story of the Jewish-American aid workers living, studying and traveling in the Hashemite Kingdom
BY AVI LEWIS
AMMAN – Skilfully dodging mid-afternoon traffic, Tariq, my Palestinian taxi driver raced past a blur of mosques and hotels, blackened by the exhaust of the endless flow of trucks, cars and buses squeezing through the narrow streets of downtown Amman. Two rusty keys dangled from the rear-view mirror – not a decoration, but real keys that belonged to his grandfather and once opened a door somewhere in Jaffa, beside modern-day Tel Aviv.
I turned silently back to the view, soaking in the smell of incense and fuel exhaust, my Jewish identity and Israeli passport neatly hidden in my pocket. Keeping one hand on the wheel, he turned to me almost accusingly: “The Israelis, you know – the Jews – the Yahud, kicked us out. They kicked us out of Palestine.” Without another word we continued our journey in silence, the jingle of keys a wry smile, a little “welcome to Jordan” drowning out the honking cars outside.
Little has been written about Jews in Jordan. For starters, open academic discourse on Jews residing in an Arab state has been a virtual taboo in the Middle East outside of Israel since the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948. Jews are almost always synonymous with Israelis or Zionists, and therefore the subject has largely been overlooked or approached with hostility or suspicion.
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