Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, has just completed a trip to the Middle East. He first spent a day and a half in Jordan, visiting the Roman city of Jerash, where his wife had had her picture taken when she was four years old. It turns out that the Middleton family had lived for several years in Jordan, where Kate’s father had worked for British Airways. Prince William had his photograph taken as he stood in the exact same spot as his wife, aged 4, had done. That was made much of in the reporting, but nothing was reported — and certainly Prince William would not have been told by his Jordanian guide Samia Kouri — about the 25 churches in the city that had all been destroyed by Muslims, nor about the circumstances of that destruction. He also watched the England-Panama match on television with Crown Prince Hussein. Bonding, presumably. He met with “refugees” in Jordan. Were they Syrians? Or did he meet, rather, with “Palestinian” refugees? And if the latter, would he have learned that they are by Jordanian law prevented from being full citizens, prevented from practicing many of the professions, or otherwise improving their lot, for the Arab states long ago decided that the more limited the life prospects for these “refugees,” the stronger their propaganda value. Prince William also met with “political figures” (unidentified) and “young scientists” whose names and achievements remain unknown.
Prince William described Jordan’s relationship with the United Kingdom as one of “historic ties and friendship.” That’s true, in a way: Jordan exists as a country only because the British decided back in the early 1920s, when they held the Mandate for Palestine, to ignore the stated purpose of the Mandate, and to prevent, rather than facilitate, any Jewish immigration to that part of the Mandate’s original territory that lay to the east of the Jordan river. Instead, all the land east of the Jordan, out to the desert, first became the Emirate of Transjordan, then the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, and finally, in 1949, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. That’s one part of the “historic ties and friendship” between the United Kingdom and Jordan. Another part is represented by the role played by English military men, headed by Glubb Pasha, who both trained and led the Jordanian soldiers in the Arab Legion, helping them to take part in the war against the nascent Jewish state in 1948. Historic ties. Friendship.
The royal visitor also described Jordan as a “beacon of hope” — which I suppose it is, if it is being compared with Syria, or Iraq, or Libya, or Lebanon, or Yemen. But that dreamy description would certainly raise some eyebrows among the Jordanian masses, who just a few weeks ago rioted against the economic policies of the government so violently that the prime minister had to resign; his departure may have temporarily assuaged the protesters, but did nothing to ameliorate problems, which are not of one man’s making, but systemic. Jordan is a poor country, being propped up by a few billion dollars from Gulf Arabs, as well as by UNRWA aid for the local “Palestinian” population; it can hardly afford to feed itself, and its burgeoning population of Syrian refugees only makes matters much worse. It is no one’s idea of a “beacon of hope.”