Meet the Press: Jordan King Abdullah Echoes John Connally on Middle East

April 27, 2009

Jordan King Abdullah II appeared on Meet the Press yesterday (Sunday, April  26), and was questioned by moderator David Gregory regarding his views on prospects for peace in the Middle East.  One of the U.S.’s closest allies in that region, the King said “we’re here relaunching an initiative that allows Arabs to reach out to Israel if we can move on the two-state solution, which is critical for stability and peace for our region.”  Pushed by Gregory to talk about other problems in the region, especially al-Qaeda, Abdullah returned to a central point: that all of those problems tie back to the endless conficts between  Israelis and Arabs.  “…the challenge we have in front of American public is connecting the dots.  Any crisis you want to talk about, whether it’s al-Qaeda, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, all comes back to the sore,  the emotional issue that is Palestine and Jerusalem. Any conflict that you pick in the Middle East today, all roads lead back to Jerusalem…,” he said. “So until you deal with the Palestinian issue, it is more difficult to deal with al-Qaeda…Pakistan…all these other problems that you’re facing.”

By now, you may be asking: “What does this have to do with Texas politics?” Texans who supported former Governor and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury John B. Connally for the Republican nomination for President in 1980 may have found the King’s views a bit familiar. In a bold move early in the campaign to demonstrate his grasp of international affairs, Connally made a major foreign policy address in 1979 in which he advocated establishment of a Palestinian state and shared sovereignty over Jerusalem as keys  to peace in the region.  His speech was met by a firestorm of criticism, the departure of Jewish supporters and media response that included an editorial attack by the Wall Street Journal.  Incensed by what he thought was an unenlightened evaluation of his ideas, to put it mildly,  Connally forcefully dispatched his campaign Director of Communications –who happened to be me–to express  his displeasure to then WSJ editor Robert Bartley. Predictably, Mr.  Bartley, now deceased, dismissed my protests as summarily as he did Connally’s peace plan.

Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal did no better by the King’s views than it did Connally’s almost 30 years ago.  A search of today’s edition (Monday, April 27), reveals no WSJ coverage of  his remarks on Meet the Press Sunday morning. Ditto the New York Times.

–Julian Read

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