Our group has been in Jordan for about 25 hours at this point, having spent a fascinating day doing mainly touristic things in Syria, yesterday.
We had discussions with three very interesting people here:
Adnan Abu-Odeh, a former Minister of Culture, Jordanian ambassador to the UN, member of the Senate, and head of the Royal Diwan;
Mouin Rabbani, a brilliant analyst of Palestinian politics; and
Abdulilah al-Khateeb, who was Jordan’s former foreign minister.
Abu-Odeh and Khateeb both expressed their horror at the degree to which the Obama administration’s recent (mis-)steps on Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking have undercut all the pro-American “moderates” in the region.
Now, we are in a period of disillusionment. Back in spring, I was speaking in Louisville, Kentucky, and I said we have to wait and see about Obama, to see if he can face up to the Israeli lobby. And he hasn’t.
He also warned that,
the continuation of settling means there will be no Palestinian state. If the American administration talks about a two-state solution and tolerates settlements, then it is lying.
He also gave a potent critique of the strategies adopted by Egypt and Jordan when they decided to make peace with Israel, believing that they could thereby help the Palestinians, “because Israel wouldn’t want to jeopardize its relations with us by continuing to oppress the Palestinians. But it didn’t happen!”
Khatib argued strongly against the wisdom of any US or Israeli attack on Iran. “If you look at the effects of the US attack on Iraq, you can see why we don’t want anything at all like that,” he said. “For a Jordanian citizen, we find ourselves trapped between two nuclear powers. Iran is a major power in the region. We welcome seeing it play that role through inclusion and discussion rather than coercion.”
On the peace process, he said the big contest now is “between those who want a process and those who want real peacemaking.”
For his part, Rabbani said he had never had any illusions that Obama would be very different than Pres. Bush in his policy on the Palestine Question, so he hadn’t had to deal with much disillusionment.
He and the others all said a lot more really interesting things but I don’t have time to blog about them all here.
Another big day tomorrow!