Like Israel, Jordan lives in a tough neighbourhood. It’s a neighbourhood marked by conflict, chaos and raw hate.
These two countries are neighbours. The leadership of both countries deal with similar problems: enemies who want to destroy, local Arabs who are so hostile to the ruling power they seem but one incident away from open revolt, and a struggle to establish stability. But they handle these issues very differently.
Israel is a democracy. Its leaders can be turned out of office—and regularly are. Israel’s got a free press that is often anti-Israel, anti-religion and anti-government. It tries to maintain stability in the face of microscopic oversight from hostile observers like the UN, the EU and the US. Every move Israel makes to protect itself is either criticized or condemned.
Jordan seems lucky by comparison. It’s got no hostile ‘observers’ demonizing its every move. It receives little, if any, negative international attention. Its leadership has remained in the same family since the country became an independent sovereign state in 1946. Its press isn’t free, so no one criticizes, scorns or ridicules the nation’s leader.
Because Jordan’s press isn’t truly open, there’s much about Jordan we don’t see. It’s as if there’s a ‘curtain of privacy’ in Jordan that hides much of what happens there.
But then, every once in a while, that curtain of ‘privacy’ gets pulled back. For example, on May 15, 2015, Jordan’s government-ruled newspaper revealed that Jordan’s unemployment rate has skyrocketed (Khetam Malkawi, “Int’l survey highlights strong impact of refugee influx on employment among Jordanians”, Jordan Times, May 16, 2015). Since March 2011, unemployment has increased from 14.5 per cent to 22.1 per cent, an increase of more than 50 per cent (ibid).
By contrast, Israel’s unemployment rate in 2011 was 5.60 % (Israel Figures for 2012 (reporting on 2011), “Labour and Wages”, ‘Key figures, 2011’, p. 7).
For 2015, Israel’s unemployment rate has dropped (slightly) to 5.30% (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, May 17, 2015).
Israel’s unemployment picture is the result of active government policy-making aimed at a relatively stable, predictable population. Jordan’s current unemployment rate, however, has little-or-nothing to do with government policy or its population. It’s the result of refugees flooding into Jordan.
A civil war in Syria—which we often forget about—has created almost four million refugees who have officially ‘registered’ with the UN (“Syrian Regional Refugee Response”, UNHCR, May 2015). Of this 4 million total, 1.4 million have entered Jordan (Jordan Times, above).
Only app 125,000 of the total 1.4 million Syrian refugees live in Jordanian-built refugee camps. The remainder--some 1.25 million--have moved out of (or never entered) the refugee camps. They live in ‘host communities’ (Ibid). In those communities, Syrian refugees who work do so primarily in the informal economy (ibid). They work outside the boundaries of Jordanian Labour Law (ibid).
In practical terms, that means that 51 per cent of Syrian men who live outside refugee camps participate in Jordan’s labor market (ibid). But only 10 per cent of Syrian workers have obtained formal work permits (ibid).
The result is, Jordanians lose their jobs—and job opportunities--to thousands of under-the-table, illegal Syrian workers. The availability of such cheap and plentiful labor has caused the Jordanian unemployment rate to soar.
In the short term, there’s almost nothing the government can do. The human tide of people who need money to survive is greater than any existing policy for coping with unexpected waves of war refugees.
Jordanian officials don’t know what to do (ibid). But like all true bureaucrats, those same officials know what to call this phenomenon of Syrian refugee workers crowding Jordanian workers out of jobs. They call it, “out-crowding” (ibid).
Israeli Leftists should take note. Those in Israel who push Israel to sign a ‘peace’ treaty with Mahmoud Abbas should memorize the word-phrase, ‘out-crowding’.
If Israel’s Leftists get their way, Israel will sign a treaty with Abbas. At first, Leftists will be very happy.
But then the out-crowding (and other negative refugee-related consequences) will begin. Leftists, along with everyone else, will watch Israel’s quality of life plummet.
The Left forgets that Mahmoud Abbas has a non-negotiable requirement for peace with Israel: Israel must allow millions of Arabs (many of whom have been kept by the UN in squalid ‘refugee camps’) to ‘return’ to Israel. Do Israeli Leftists have a plan for these ‘refugees’?
They don’t. They have no solution for the troubles those ‘refugees’ will cause to Israel’s welfare, health and education systems. They have no plan to deal with the economic impact of such a flood of refugees.
They have no plans whatsoever. They haven’t even thought about one.
Do you really want to put your future into the hands of people who can’t think or plan?