OpinionMiddle East

The queen’s speech

Her Majesty Rania Al Abdullah misses an opportunity.

Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan the 2010 World Economic Forum, Jan. 30, 2010. Credit: World Economic Forum via Wikimedia Commons.
Date	30 January 2010
Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan the 2010 World Economic Forum, Jan. 30, 2010. Credit: World Economic Forum via Wikimedia Commons. Date 30 January 2010
Clifford D. May
Clifford D. May is the founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), as well as a columnist for “The Washington Times.”

For a quarter of a century, Rania Al Abdullah has been the queen of Jordan, and, in many ways, a model royal she has been.

She’s advocated “for tolerance, compassion, and promoting empathy between people of all cultures and backgrounds” (according to her website).

Beautiful and elegant, she’s won more awards than you can shake a scepter at, including Glamour’s Woman of the Year and the Foreign Press Association’s Humanitarian Award.

She’s written children’s books, including “The Sandwich Swap,” in which best friends Lily and Salma argue over peanut butter and hummus. In the end, they “come together in the true spirit of tolerance and acceptance.”

Queen Rania cares deeply about Palestinians, not least because she’s the daughter of a prominent physician from what is now called the West Bank. He studied in Cairo and Northern Ireland, then moved to Kuwait, where she was born.

She met Abdullah bin Al-Hussein at a dinner party in 1993. She was 22. He was a Jordanian prince. They married six months later.

When he ascended the throne in 1999, she was proclaimed queen.

She thus became the first Palestinian queen in history. One might even say she became the queen of Palestine, since the country known as Jordan was founded on the three-fourths of Mandatory Palestine—formerly a backwater of the Ottoman Empire—lying east of the Jordan River.

This was thanks to the British, who defeated the German-allied Ottomans in World War I.

The British had been assisted by the Hashemites, the clan that for centuries ruled the Holy City of Mecca, though often as vassals of foreign empires.

To reward the Hashemites—and save them from the Saudi clan that was conquering Arabia—the British in 1921 established a protectorate, the Emirate of Transjordan. Abdullah I was installed as emir.

When the British granted Transjordan independence in 1946, Abdullah renamed his realm the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

In 1947, the United Nations recommended that the remainder of Palestine be partitioned into two states: one for the territory’s Jews, one for its Arabs. The Jewish Agency for Palestine accepted the plan. The Arab League rejected it.

In 1948, the Israelis declared their independence, and King Abdullah’s army joined those of other Arab states in a war to exterminate the fledgling the Jewish state.

Israel survived but the king’s men conquered eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. He renamed those territories the West Bank, expelled the Jews and desecrated Jewish religious sites.

The Six-Day War of 1967 was a second attempt by Arab states to annihilate the Jewish state. It was unsuccessful and Israel took control of the West Bank.

As a gesture of good will, the Jewish state gave custodianship of the Al-Aqsa Mosque to a Jordanian waqf, an Islamic foundation.

The 1967 war ended with Israelis also in possession of Gaza, which had been conquered by Egypt in 1948.

Neither Jordan nor Egypt ever attempted to establish a Palestinian state in those territories.

Queen Rania’s familiarity with this history was not apparent from the speech she delivered last week at the Web Summit Qatar, a gathering of Middle East startups (those of Israel not included) in Doha, the Qatari capital.

She asserted that “for decades” Palestinians “have been pushed to the periphery, just out of sight—and out of mind.”

That’s a curious observation considering that the number of journalists covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has always far exceeded the number of journalists covering China, India and Africa combined.

Certainly, the Palestinians receive far more attention than do Uyghurs, Rohingyas, Sudanese, Syria’s Sunni Arabs, Middle Eastern Christians, Tibetans and Kurds.

Queen Rania acknowledged that there was a “brutal Oct. 7 attack” but didn’t say who perpetrated it, nor who its victims were.

Indeed, she never mentioned Hamas, some of whose top leaders live in luxury in Doha, honored guests of Qatar’s rulers.

Instead, she placed Oct. 7 in the context of “the endless indignities of life under occupation” and “a crippling 17-year blockade” of Gaza.

Which ignores the fact that the Israelis withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

Which also ignores the fact that after Hamas took full control of the territory in 2007, Israelis continued to facilitate cross-border assistance, supply electricity and permit thousands of Gazans to enter Israel to earn their livings.

The “blockade” was an attempt to prevent Hamas from receiving large quantities of weapons and ammunition. We now know it failed.

Hamas spent its energies and billions in foreign aid constructing an elaborate subterranean fortress for the war it was planning.

Hamas is at this moment holding—and torturing—civilian hostages abducted from Israel while using Gazan civilians as human shields to protect its top terrorists. 

Queen Rania mentioned none of this in her remarks.

Instead, she demanded that “the hostages and detainees on both sides must go home.” The distinction between innocent hostages and detained terrorists eluded her.

“Ultimately,” she concluded, “Palestinians want what most of us take for granted: The right to self-determination” and “the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state, living side by side in peace with Israel.”

Some Palestinians undoubtedly do want that. But Hamas rejects a “two-state solution” with as much vehemence and violence as did Arab leaders in 1947.

Hamas’ proclaimed goal is the extermination of the Jewish state, to be replaced—“from the river to the sea”—by a restored and growing Islamic empire.

Hamas shares this goal with Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, the Houthis and—patron of them all—the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It seems a pity that Queen Rania, while in Doha, didn’t hand-deliver to Hamas leaders copies of “The Sandwich Swap.” Perhaps they might have learned something about the “true spirit of tolerance and acceptance.”

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war.

JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you.

The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support?

Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates