With Egypt and Syria in turmoil, Jordan needs to step up to the plate for peace
By Ray Hanania
In my Creators Syndicate column this week, I write about the role that Jordan and King Abdullah must play if we are to ever see peace in the Middle East. (Click here to read the column.)
The problem in the Middle East is Israel. Israel refuses to recognize the rights of the Palestinians, but does a great job of spinning the media to spotlight its spin while pretty much ignoring the spin of the Arabs — oh that’s right the Arabs don’t have spin because when it comes to communications, they are not very good at it. All of the frontline countries, except Jordan, are embroiled in conflict. Egypt. Syria. And Lebanon.
Egypt is consumed with turmoil caused by its push for Democracy. I hope it works but they are still a ways away, unfortunately. I don’t think Arabs, culturally, have enough experience in Democracy to make it work without major flaps and problems. For example, although Egyptians elected a new president, Mohammad Morsi, in Democratic elections, his foes continue to oppose his rule resulting in more street protests against him,a s if he could be compared to the former dictator, Hosni Mubarak. We’ll see where that goes, but it makes it hard for Egypt to do much to pressure Israel.
Syria is in the center of the now Arab Winter, murdering civilians left and right while the rebels remain consumed by infighting and challenges from extremists among the Al-Qaeda terrorists who seek out and exploit any region of turmoil. Syria is a mess and will remain a mess as long as Bashar al-Assad remain in power. That should be too much longer, but surprisingly, many Arabs who champion Palestinian rights against the Israeli oppressor, support the dictatorship fo Bashar al-Assad. (That’s a good topic for a future blog post, I think.)
So who is left? Well, Jordan. The country whose monarchy was created by the Western Powers after World War I. It’s not an easy thing to talk about in the Arab community. Jordan is well-liked by many for a lot of varying and conflicted reasons. Many of the activists who champion Palestinian rights are related to big-shots in the Jordanian government who represent the Hashemite Kingdom. They can’t and don’t dare to criticize or even question the King. And I am not saying to denounce the King. I’m saying the Jordanian mukhabarat doesn’t even like it when you question the King’s policies and sometimes thin-broth speeches.
Yet, that is who is left. Jordan and Western educated King Abdullah. King Abdullah is a nice guy. He comes across very reasoned. He makes a good argument in asking why his Monarchy is any less credible than the Monarchy in England. Well, there is a difference. A Big Difference. Queen Elizabeth is the Queen but she does not control the country. The Parliament controls England and the English Parliament is far more independent and has far more powers than the Jordanian Parliament.
When it comes to Foreign policy, the English Parliament and government run the country in England. In Jordan, King Abdullah sets policy, period. The parliament and “government” have very specifically defined areas where their powers are limited.
It’s King Abdullah who needs to stand up to Israel, in part because the West Bank is in Israeli hands in a large part to the failings of Jordan. Sorry. But Jordan is as much to blame for the problems as are Israelis and Palestinians. No one is without blame here. But Jordan signed a peace accord with Israel and what do Jordanians get from that deal? Nothing. Israel gets everything. Israel can turn its back on Jordan and brutalize Palestinians and even Jordanians who seek to visit Jerusalem, which is a closed and occupied City.
The Holy City of Jerusalem is imprisoned by Israel’s military and King Abdullah doesn’t seem to care.
But he should care. He has a responsibility to do something. As much as I love Jordan and admire King Abdullah, he needs to stand up to Israel and replace his apathetic policies with policies that can make change. Israel needs to be reminded that it cannot steal lands from Arabs to expand its racist settlements without consequences. One of those consequences must be the revocation of the peace accord Jordan signed with Israel.
When there was hope for peace in the 1990s, a peace accord made sense back then. But Israel has lied about peace. Israel has chosen settlements and land theft over peace. Until Jordan finds the courage to standup to Israel’s immoral conduct, peace with Israel needs to be shelved.
That’s if King Abdullah really does care about the Palestinians, or even more importantly, about the freedom of the Holy City of Jerusalem.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. He co-hosts Radio Baladi every Friday 8 am EST with columnist Ali Younes. Listen live at www.RadioBaladi.com. Contact Ray Hanania at www.TheMediaOasis.com.)
About R. Hanania
Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian journalist, columnist, author and standup comedian. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by the Chicago Sun-Times for his groundbreaking series on the Palestinian Intifada in 1990, he has won Four (4) Society of Professional Journalism Lisagor Awards and was named Best Ethnic American Columnist by the New America Media in November 2006. In 2010, he won the SPJ Sigma Delta Chi National Award for writing.
Hanania’s journalism and communications career is extensive. A former Chicago City Hall political reporter for 17 years, Hanania is the president of Urban Strategies Group media and consulting. He is a syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate and writes every Sunday for the Saudi Gazette Newspaper and Al Arabiya. In Broadcast media, Hanania co-hosts the live radio talk show “Radio Baladi” with columnist Ali Younes every Friday morning at 8 AM EST on WNZK AM 690 radio in Detroit.
Hanania has authored eight books including the humor book “I’m Glad I look Like a Terrorist: Growing up Arab in America” (1996), and he is the contributor in seven books including “Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History” which features his Palestinian food recipes as well as experiences growing up Arab in America. He also authored “Arabs of Chicagoland” (2005).
In addition to journalism, Hanania is also the Palestinian standup comedian who has performed around the world including in Beirut, Dubai, London, Dublin, Palestine, Israel, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, and for universities across the United States and Canada.
He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com and at www.Hanania.com/ Reach him by email at email@example.com.