Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Why Jordan’s Stability Is So Important

Remembering King Hussein, who died on this day in 1999

Print Email
King Hussein With Yitzhak Rabin.(Wikipedia)

In the aftermath of the first Gulf War, historical circumstances–namely Jordan’s isolation following its vocal support for Iraq–caused its king to remake himself and his country in the image of a (relatively) modern, (more) progressive state.

King Hussein, who died on this date in 1999, had a history of saying and doing some terrible things, but when he decided–in a fit of desperation–to normalize relations with Israel, he buoyed his pragmatic decision with a convert’s fanaticism.

The transformation was astonishing. Not since Anwar Sadat had an Arab leader thrown himself with such fervor into the cause of peace — real peace, not merely a frigid absence of hostilities. “I am determined,” the king said of the 1994 treaty normalizing relations between Israel and Jordan, “not to have … a peace between governments, but a peace between people.” It was a promise he kept.

An extraordinary moment occurred in March 1997, when Hussein visited the grieving families of seven Israeli girls shot dead by a deranged Jordanian soldier. He knelt before the mourners, tears in his eyes, words of comfort on his lips. It was an act of humanity and poignancy unprecedented in modern Middle East history.

The greatness of King Hussein was not that he devoted his life to peace. It was that he was able to rise above himself, to break through a mindset of violence and become an apostle of reconciliation. That is what the world has lost, and why Israelis lowered their flags to half-mast when their former enemy died last Sunday.

As fragile as Jordan seems today, it’s worth mentioning how important its stability is for the long-term health of Israel and the region.

A convert to peacemaking [Boston Globe]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

    Go away. Nobody clicks on your links and you’re only making us less interested in your stances because they’re being equated with your annoyingness.

    Cynthia Morris says:

    Linking to rabid, irrational anti-Israel websites and $2.50 will get you a ride on the NYC subway.

Poupic says:

If Chandler did not exist someone should invent “it.” Yes! Hussein was great! He gave what wasn’t his to give, Judea and Samaria aka “The West Bank” while he had already lost this land grab given to him by British operative Glubb Pasha aka John Glubb after his nasty siege of Jerusalem in 1948. What else did Hussein do beside his one time gesture? Answer nothing worth mentioning. Jordan and peace is like Egypt and peace, just a prolonged no war situation. Chandler get a day job! As a comedian you stink!


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Why Jordan’s Stability Is So Important

Remembering King Hussein, who died on this day in 1999

More on Tablet:

Kerry Links Rise of ISIS With Failed Peace Talks

By Lee Smith — Secretary of State: ‘I see a lot of heads nodding’