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Alice in ‘Wanderland’

Dec 14,2015 - Last updated at Dec 14,2015

We, in the Arab world, get indignant when American presidents or secretaries of state wear a yarmulke at a Jewish organisation, in a synagogue or at concentration camp memorial. We think that these American officials have stepped out of their way to please the Jewish audience at the Arab’s expense.

When some Israeli media get upset over former president Jimmy Carter’s criticism of Israel, they put his picture on the front pages of newspapers or the cover of a magazine wearing the kufiya in Arafat’s style, or accuse him of anti-Semitism.

When a foreign dignitary is honoured in another country, he or she is usually attired with a symbolic national uniform to show respect and appreciation.

A few days ago, a photo of American Ambassador to Jordan Alice G. Wells went viral on Jordan’s social media. She was wearing a Jordanian thob (a national embroidered dress) in the presence of Hazem Qashou who hosted her with other Jordanian dignitaries at his home.

I read some of the comments made on that photo. Mostly, they were aggressive and unfriendly. Some comments were even insolent.

Why?

According to these comments on the social media, some were upset that MP Qashou was kissing the female American ambassador in the presence of his wife who was ululating.

Other commentators were utterly unhappy with the idea of inviting the ambassador to the house of a people’s representative in the Parliament. Parliamentarians are against US policies in the region, and to honour the diplomat of that country is an act of defiance. 

Some were unhappy with the ambassador due to certain previous stances, and found in these photos the opportunity to leash against her.

Let me just present some facts.

The American ambassador, the honourable Wells, is not a Jordanian ambassador, but an American ambassador.

When she attended an anti-homophobia rally, she was voicing her country’s constitutional position on the matter.

Of course, we did not like that, and she knew it and heard it loud and clear.

Some commentators believe that she is interfering in Jordan’s domestic affairs. Yes, but to the extent that her country is contributing to our economy and budget.

The studies made on Jordan produce results that should be shown to government officials and sometimes brought to the attention of the Jordanian public.

Unfortunately, some target her because she is a woman and thus a gender segregation is exercised against her.

If Qashou had kissed a male American ambassador, probably the issue would have been taken much less intensely.

Let me offer this idea: I would love to see presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wearing a Jordanian or a Palestinian thob, even if she were kissing President Mahmoud Abbas.

Can you imagine the reaction of Israeli and pro-Zionist media against her?

Many Jordanians kiss each other, but without pictures taken. People are free to express their opinions. But to overdo things and ignore our manners and our country’s strategic interests is not a reflection of our patriotism.

We do not like Donald Trump’s supporters because they defend his xenophobia and Islamophobic policies. We do not want to give those fodder to qualify their hateful positions.

Wells is not “the Ugly American” ambassador. I hope the Israeli public does not attack her too for smiling in that embroidered dress.

 

The writer, a former Royal Court chief and deputy prime minister, is a member of Senate. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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