From the Vantage of Young Jordanians, Israel and Palestine doomed

A testament of how excellent the leadership from King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan has been, and of how deficient the leadership has been from Israeli and Palestinian leaders in contrast, is contained in the views of young people here in Jordan.

At the World Economic Forum/Young Global Leaders conference, I’ve had a few interesting conversations with young Jordanians – not the high-level participants, but ordinary day-to-day people.  Here is what is interesting:

  • most of them are proud of their Palestinian heritage;
  • When I ask them if they see their identity more as Palestinian or Jordanian, most of them say it’s the same thing – 70% of Jordan is Palestinian;
  • But when I ask them (and press them) on their future fate – would they want Israel, Palestine (West Bank and Gaza) and Jordan to be part of a confederacy; would they want Jordan to absorb any of the Palestinian land; other options – they all uniformly confess that they rather leave things alone and let Jordan be Jordan, and let the Israelis and Palestinians continue to kill each other if they so desire.

It is striking how uniform these perspectives are.  "Israelis don’t really want peace.  And frankly Palestinians don’t want peace either," they tend to say. 

So let us stay out of it, they think, and let Jordan grow and thrive, and not be stuck by recriminations of the past.

So the Jordanian Royal couple didn’t just do something very bright by marrying – the inheritor of the Hashemite Kingdom with an attractive Palestinian woman – but also by the vision and policies they have created.

Now, if young people across the border of Israel and Palestine, with family and heritage there, want nothing to do with all the conflict, imagine how does the rest of the world relate?  More and more people I talk to feel the same way: if the Israelis and Palestinians are not prepared to compromise, let them keep fighting.  The more cruel comments, broadly felt but not broadly acknowledged, tend to end with "let them kill each other."

Can this be a wake up call to Israelis and Palestinians to realize they need to recognize that freedom and security for them will not come if the other side doesn’t get the same?

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