Proposed: The West Berlinization of Jordan

05Jun08

At the end of World War II, western troops faced off against Soviet troops across central Europe.  The result was an Iron Curtain that partitioned the Continent.

I visited Berlin in 1988.  West Berlin was a rich city, surrounded by East Berlin and East Germany.  It was an island of prosperity and freedom within a sea of repression and backwardness.  The U.S. and its allies made sure of it.  West Berlin was a beacon of what the whole of Germany could be, and of what it would become.

Israel and the Palestinians look likely to continue beating the hell out of each other until further notice.  While that trench warfare continues, the more strategic emphasis is upon the cultural bridge to the Middle East that exists and/or can exist in Amman and, conceivably, in a future, liberated Egypt and a future, demilitarized Beirut.

Unlike Berlin, however, that “best of the West” image should be predominantly freedom- rather than wealth-oriented.  Money is not going to impress Middle Easterners who already look askance at the rich emirates to their south.  What is more likely to impress them is religious and cultural freedom and tolerance, nurtured over a period of several decades.  As the saying goes, that which is important is seldom urgent, and (as we may belatedly learn, in our perennial efforts to achieve a frontal solution in Palestine) that which is urgent is seldom important.

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