Jordan’s King Abdullah: “Israel is at a critical juncture…”

Jordan’s King Abdullah was optimistic as usual about the possibilities of peace in the Middle East when he talked to NPR’s Michele Kelemen yesterday.  The transcript and a link to the audio are here.  Some notable sound bites:

The core problem in the Middle East is the Israeli- Palestinian one. From that resonates all the other problems that we have and most people in the Middle East understand that this is the core issue. And so we’ve got to be very careful that if economic outreach is going to be a substitute for a two-state solution, then it’s not going to work.

On the Palestinian side, more than 85 percent want their Palestinian leaders to have a negotiation of peace with the Israelis. Even in Israel the overwhelming majority of the population still wants a negotiated settlement. And so it’s really empowering the people to convince their politicians that peace is the only way out as opposed to the other way around at this stage.

…Israel, I think, is at a critical juncture: whether it wants to be …integrated into the neighborhood or whether it wants to continue to be Fortress Israel. And what Fortress Israel means is no two-state solution; therefore, tension and violence between Israelis and Arabs/Israelis and Muslims, which nobody can afford. This is a small world and we’re all affected by it

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“How can I find out about what Palestinians think”, I was asked on another thread. Well, there’s the Jordan Times. And I forgot to mention all of King Abdullah’s speeches. What an intellect.

And what about this issue and that issue that people keep bringing up? You can’t really talk about it in a short quip on a thread. Sometimes it’s more complicated and takes time to explain. So here is a list of sources I recommend as well as what is on this blog about Palestinians so far. Sort of an index.


News sources

The Jordan Times-Jordanian online newspaper in English (the King reads this paper)

The Maan News Agency– Palestinian news service, because you know it’s not going to be on the evening news. East round table–op ed’s reprinted from various international publications.

The Christian Science Monitor-always in depth and reflective when they write about the Middle East

The Israel Lobby

Chomsky Ditches Rockefeller Chapel, Politics is Still Local-Chomsky, the Israel lobby, and professors Norman Finkelstein and Mehrene Larudee

J Street–a new American Jewish lobby for a two state solution– not all American Jews are neocons who oppose the formation of a Palestinian state

Chomsky, Israel Lobby co-author Mearsheimer to speak at Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel in October 2007-book: Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer’s The Israel Lobby and U.S. Policy. Is the Israel lobby the only thing preventing the formation of a Palestinian state?

A Moslem Conspiracy: Brigitte Gabriel’s frightened war-zone vision of population politics-Gabriel is a Lebanese Christian who grew up in a war zone in Lebanon and was helped to asylum by Israeli sources.

Arab Extremists

Jordan stops flirting with Hamas…for now-sequel to “American loses it last Arab friend” about the unfortunate “Jordan as Palestinian homeland” provocation

America loses its last Arab friend-Jordan talks to (gasp!) Hamas. Yup, it’s about that “Jordan as Palestinian homeland” business again

Hamas takeover of Gaza– “Follow the money–another proxy war between Iran and the U.S.”

Vintage 1969 Middle East Fanaticism Quotation-the secretive Miles Copland

Palestine just a pawn in Copeland’s 1952 Game of Nations-Promoting stability in the Middle East. “After Nasser’s successful Egyptian coup, his people were again in touch with American diplomats and eventually they came around to the American view of the necessity of using Israel as the scapegoat to unite the country…”

Speeches by Abdullah II, King of Jordan.

amman-messageThis guy is my hero. Seriously. His photo is above my computer, and I have archived a lot of his old speeches from back when the Jordan Times articles were only online for a week.  When I take a notion to monitor the use of this website, I can see people from university IP’s looking at these speeches for long periods of time, so I know I’m not the only one who appreciates both his scholarship and his street wisdom. The King has some of the speeches (like the Amman Statement about moderate Islam–oh wait that has its own website) on his official website as well, also some op-ed pieces he has written for major western publications. He believes in Palestinian statehood, and his confidence makes me sure it can happen now, in this election cycle.

The Amman Message: how Jordan understands Islam–text of remarks by King Abdullah II, November 2004

Text of King Abdullah’s message to U.S. congress March 7, 20007

Transcript of Interview, Jordan’s King Abdullah 4-10-07

Transcript of interview with Jordan’s King Abdullah May 9, 2007 with Egyptian Al Ahram daily

Prosperity, stability, a crucial model for other countries: Text of King Abdullah II remarks at opening of Dead Sea G-11 Economic Summit 5-19-07

Remarks by King Abdullah 5-21-07 to Nik Gowing, BBC World, at the side of G11 Economic Forum

Text of Jordan’s King Abdullah’s remarks to Al Ghad daily July 1, 2007

Text of Jordan King Abdullah’s remarks at Canadian Foreign Ministry 7-13-07

Text of Jordan King Abdullah II interview with JTV 8-31-07

Text of remarks by King Abdullah II to the World Economic Forum at Sharm al-Sheikh 5-19-08

Palestinian Statehood

U.S. pledges $900 million at Gaza conference-Hillary says money will not go to Hamas

Palestinian Scuttlebutt: “Mish Harb”-sniffing the Arab Street in Chicago after the Gaza military action

If Mahmoud Darwish wrote the Palestinian Declaration of Independence–where is it?– by the end of the rant I have found the link–yes, it’s real.

Remembering Mahmoud Darwish-the Palestinian poet who wrote the Palestinian Declaration of independence–links to poems that are incredible even in translation.

Palestine screws up again, rejects statehood– a rant against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for rejecting an offer of statehood as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert leaves office–because of Jerusalem.

Palestine Independence: Who would provide security?

Obama weasels on Palestine-parsing Obama’s campaign speech in Amman and his answers to questions that seem evasive on second glance, and I’m afraid another rant.

Obama: remaking the world is not for Woman-Obama campaigning in Israel and writing an inscription–but not with gender neutral language

Does John McCain want to destroy Jordan?-A report that an aide to presidential candidate John McCain wants to “turn Jordan into a Palestinian state” is apparently a hoax on the part of a website dedicated to “Destroying the kingdom of Jordan peacefully”.  I like Jordan.

The Palestinian State: Parsing King Abdullah-still trying to figure out the mystery of what exactly is holding up statehood for Palestine–it sure isn’t the King.

Palestinian Independence: Waiting for the Pole to Turn Green-a meaningless rant expressing impatience with the Palestinians for not unilaterally declaring independence.

Is a Palestinian State Offensive?– a rant against Palestinian apathy about statehood

Posted in King Abdullah II, Middle East, Palestine, peace, الأردن. Comments Off on Palestinians

Pronouncing “King Abdullah” in Arabic

This is way cool.  I just checked back with Forvo, a website for listening to words pronounced in their own languages. Last week I posted the name of Jordan’s King Abdullah II ( الملك عبد الله الثاني بن الحسين) to be pronounced by a native speaker.  Already someone from Jordan has made a recording of the pronunciation. Thanks, lkurdi!

Here’s a breakdown of the Arabic, in case you don’t want to go to the effort with google translate:

الملك king (malik, actually al-malik if you include the definite article)

عبد الله Abdullah (two separate words عبد adb slave or servant and الله Allah,  God–it is forbidden to name anyone “slave” without adding “God” or a name of God). It looks like separate word here, but is actually one word, because the letter dahl د does not connect to any letter that follows it.

الثاني  the second (ithani, actually al-ithani with the definite article)

بن son of (bin, technially ibin ابن is son )

الحسين Hussein (al-Hussein or  “the Hussein”– of course this would be the late King Hussein, Abdullah’s father)

Right now I feel like I could just reach out and touch Jordan.

America loses its last Arab friend

In the excitement over the two political parties’ nominating conventions in the last couple weeks, a small news item has slipped through the cracks.

Jordan, our only Arab ally, has quietly started courting Hamas.

In case you don’t remember, Hamas is on the State Department’s terrorist list.

Hamas members are sent from Iran to teach Islamic extremism to Lebanese school children.  Hamas members garner great appreciation in the Arab world by supplying a few blankets and supplies to disaster areas while workers from other relief groups are mysteriously killed. Hamas is the organization that won an election in Palestine and, instead of sharing power with the PLO as they were elected to do, quickly subverted the democratic process and executed a complete military takeover in Gaza.

What does Hamas mean in Jordan? Hamas is the organization that tried repeatedly to assassinate Jordan’s King Hussein, the father of the present King, among other things, by putting poison in his eye drops. Hamas is the organization that successfully embarrassed the royal family for years by waging a terrorist war against Israel by crossing the border at night, then retreating across the safety of the Jordanian border whenever pursued. Hamas was the entity that tried to take over the Jordanian government in 1969, while Syria backed them by crossing Jordan’s northern border with tanks.

There are still bullet holes in the buildings in downtown Amman from that civil war. There are still land mines under the streets of Ramtha near the old Syrian border.

And now Jordan’s King Abdullah II wants to make nice with Hamas.  His Royal Highness is far from stupid. King Abdullah took his military training in England and his academic training in the U.S. He has written numerous op-ed pages for U.S. periodicals that are scholarly and also make quite a bit of sense.  More importantly, the King has an instinctive street wisdom that I would compare with his namesake, King Abdullah I who singlehandedly founded Jordan as an emirate and then a country.

Abdullah has gone farther than his father ever did in backing the U.S. King Adbullah’s father, King Hussein, was the first Jordanian ruler to establish ties with the U.S. during the era of declining British world influence.  King Hussein did NOT back the U.S. during Desert Storm, although he later pretended he had.  During that conflict between the U.S. and Iraq, he sided with his old hunting buddy, Saddam Hussein, and when the Desert Storm was over, Jordan continued to enjoy low gas prices and deeply discounted oil from Iraq’s oil wells. King Abdullah did support the U.S. in its latest Iraqi adventure, and Jordan has become home to countless Iraqi refugees. Who knows the price the King has paid for his loyalty to American interests.

If King Abdullah now wants to strengthen ties with Jordan’s oldest hereditary enemy Hamas, you had better believe it’s in the best interests of Jordan and the Royal Family. You can be equally certain it’s not in America’s best interest.

Is George Bush listening? Or are we about to slide into a McCain presidency where once again the Palestinians are ignored as world opinion condemns the only country–us–capable of putting pressure on Israel to accept Palestinian statehood.  Will McCain’s good buddy and world adviser Joe Leiberman, who is Jewish, be put in charge of our relations with the Arab world? The pundits are now saying McCain confidante Leiberman would be offered a cabinet post in a possible McCain presidency.

I say we should accept Palestinian independence quickly.  Now, while the PLO is still running the show. And prop them up with as much foreign aid as necessary.

Former President Nixon is remembered for the worst ethical scandal in American history.  He is also remembered for recognizing China.

President Bush will long be remembered for his war in Iraq.  It’s not too late for him to also be remembered for recognizing Palestine.


[Another copy of Saad Hattar’s piece Jordan-Hamas: the untold story is at |here|.]

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Jordan’s King Abdullah II on YouTube

If you have never seen King Abdullah the Second of Jordan speak, you can now see him on YouTube, thanks to Charlie Rose.

The videos are: |here| from the Royal Palace in Jordan (date unknown, but after the Palestinian election and before the Iraqi one), |here| from Washington after a meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell, |March 19, 2002 here|, and |September 16, 2003 here|with the sound quality so poor and out of sync you can hardly hear the video, also King Abdullah is shown |here| in the first two minutes of something called the YPO Leadership conference, date unknown.

Who can forget the King’s entrance into the public spotlight with the Middle Eastern soccer championship, less than a year after the death of his father, the late King Hussein. At every game the king was front and center wearing a sport jersey and jumping up from his seat with both arms straight up in the air whenever there was a goal. No wonder the Jordan team was so inspired to win.

And that poor player from Iraq who made a goal in the wrong direction, inadvertently scoring for Jordan. Things will not go well for him, my Palestinian friends told me. Uday, the son of Saddam Hussein, was in charge of the team and on his return for sure the player would be tortured or killed for that blunder.

On the night that Jordan won the championship, all over the country there was celebratory gunfire. I was watching with some Americans near Madaba and at the end of the game decided not to return to my lodging until all the gunfire was over.

I kept a photo of the King in my digs while I was in Jordan and still have one over my desk. The King’s speeches were available to read in the Jordan Times, somewhat buried in the back pages, but they always published the whole thing verbatim in an “unofficial transcript”. I remember reading Fidel Castro’s speeches back in college. Our university paper used to receive a copy of the Havana propaganda publication with Fidel’s speeches printed in the front. I never did get entirely through one speech. They were just the same thing over and over again. Viva the homeland, venceremos, we will win, etc, etc.

Abdullah’s speeches aren’t at all like that. They are incredibly well thought out. You have to wonder if Abdullah even has a speechwriter–where would he find someone who could express those ideas so well? Apparently he thinks on his feet a lot better than the American presidential candidates too, as I was always amazed by the way he was able to answer reporters’ questions off the cuff.

When I returned to the U.S. I found out that King Abdullah had been interviewed by Charlie Rose several times. Unfortunately you had to have a credit card and order the video which they would mail to you for a nominal fee. So if your old Jordanian roommate is in town overnight and you are in the mood to watch it NOW, too bad. Later the videos got put together into an archive, so you had to order several hours worth of shows to just see one of the king.

The king continued to make riveting speeches, at least from the standpoint of someone like me who was looking for enlightenment about the unfathomable Arab culture, politics, and current events. The Jordan Times continued to print his speeches in their internet edition. Unfortunately they were only online for a week, until their latest Sunday through Thursday issue replaced the previous weeks’ issue. I started cutting and pasting the entire speeches into my January 2004 archives. The Jordan Times now keeps more extensive archives, and the King’s own website has his written pieces that have been published in the west, but this is probably one of the few places you can still find online transcripts of some of the King’s previous speeches.

So now my favorite interviewer, Charlie Rose, and my favorite world leader, King Abdullah, are together on video and available for the world to see. Hopefully Charlies’ s archivists will get around to putting the dates on the videos (and fixing the sound) sometime soon.

The King’s vision: “We can begin a different future, right now.”

While America’s top political brains–Bush, Obama, Clinton, and McCain–spent the week trying to score petty points on each other, Jordan’s King Abdullah reminded us all of what statecraft is all about. Here are some sound bites from his speech at the World Economic Forum in Egypt.

We need to ask ourselves, how much further ahead would we be today, if these last eight years had been years of peace and stability? If, all this time, a sovereign Palestine had been building and thriving? If extremists and external forces had not had this issue to manipulate? If global investors and customers had been able to approach our region with even greater business confidence? If the Middle East were, already, the united economic powerhouse it can and should be – a regional community, speeding growth, ending poverty, creating jobs and securing the future, the future for which our young people are preparing so hard?

Let us not stand here in eight years, or even one year, thinking, ‘if only’. We can begin a different future, right now.

After sixty years of wars, exhaustion, wars, intifadas, economic collapse, and more wars, here is a voice that says confidently, yes, we can have peace in the Middle East, and we can have it now, this year.

We cannot overestimate the cost of regional conflict even as we move forward. This room is full of success stories that give evidence of our people’s tremendous capability. Many of you have played leading roles, in a challenging environment, to help our region and economies advance. But a universal truth applies: To make gains against the hurdles, the citizens of conflict areas must work far harder, risk far more, than those who live in regions of stability and peace.

We must not accept such a disadvantage. And this year, God willing, we will change our place in the equation.

The full text of this speech is |here|. The Jordan Times prints official or unofficial transcripts of the King’s speeches as they have them, but their archives are unpredictable. The King’s own website is another good resource.

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President Bush and Jordan King Abdullah meet on sideline of World Economic Forum: can Palestinian statehood be far behind?

According to the Bahrain News Agency, President Bush and King Abdullah, both attending a forum in Eghypt, discussed Palestinian independence.


Palestine the Nation. Just do It.

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