A Royal Jordanian pilot who became a viral hit across the Arab world when a recording of him emerged telling passengers Jerusalem was “the capital of Palestine” is now directly criticizing Donald Trump for his recognition of the Israeli capital, castigating the US president while in New York, and professing willingness to die in order to destroy Israel.
As his plane flew over Israeli airspace last week, Yousef Dajah informed passengers of an imminent flyover of “Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine”; a YouTube recording of his comments is still being shared widely. The geography lesson — given both in Arabic and English — on flight RJ216 from Amman to New York came a week after Trump announced he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Since then, Dajah has given a number of interviews to Jordanian and other Arab-language news outlets criticizing Trump and calling for mass protests against the Jerusalem announcement.
“I’d like to say something to the president of the United States, Mr. Trump,” Dajah said in one interview recorded this week, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute. “My name is Yousef Al-Hamlan Dajeh. I’m from Jordan. I belong to Jordan, to Palestine, and to all the Arab countries. I am right here in New York beside your tower. What you have said is arrogant. What you gave to Israel – you said ‘Israel,’ but I don’t believe in Israel myself… It’s not right. It’s not yours to give.”
Dajah continued: “If you want to give something to them, give it from your country, give it from America. This belongs to the Palestinians, it belongs to the Arabs, belongs to the Hashemites, it belongs to King Abdullah, it belongs to us. It is not yours to give. Hands off please from our territory.”
In another interview, Dajah called for people to oppose Trump’s decision and “fight for the sake of Jerusalem.”
“We should sacrifice all that is dear to us for the sake of Palestine. We are [willing to be] martyred for the sake of Palestine,” he said, according to MEMRI.
“Every mother, father, and teacher should raise a new generation that will liberate Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea. We will not forget Acre or Jaffa,” he said, referring to Israeli cities whose Arab populations dwindled during the 1948 War of Independence.
In a December 6 address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.
The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum and angered Palestinian and Arab leaders. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.