King Abdullah II of Jordan writes a supplication for peace in his captivating book, Our Last Best Chance: The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril. It is his personal story which traces the history of his family: on one side the Hashemites descended from the Prophet Mohammad, and on the other a long line of upper-class Brits. The story is told with love of country, devotion to family, extraordinary knowledge of history and a passionate commitment to peace - particularly in the Middle East. Published in 2010, the window that he speaks of is still open, albeit only just.
The King’s memoir reads like an adventure story as well as a history book. He depicts such exploits as a childhood visit in the early 1980s by his family to Saddam Hussein’s ostentatious palace in Iraq – a very testy visit! King Abdullah also describes the many raging, back-door battles and assassination attempts made on his father’s life, including within the walls of their own home.
Abdullah’s father, King Hussein of Jordan, a warm-hearted and audacious diplomat, becomes the real hero of the book. Like his father, Abdullah is something of a valiant thrill-seeker himself and he relates some of his own fearless adventures, including a fun-loving yet petrifying helicopter ride in which Abdullah flies Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford near the Jordanian/Israeli border. In later years Harrison Ford was reported as saying that Abdullah’s helicopter ride “scared the crap out of us!”
As another Hollywood footnote, Prince Faisal, one of Abdullah’s uncles, was portrayed by Alec Guinness in the epic film, “Lawrence of Arabia”. Also, Abdullah’s mother, a British secretarial assistant, worked on the set of that film.
In his book, King Abdullah interweaves an impassioned plea for peace between Israel and the Arabs, especially the Palestinians, stressing that a peace is most important for the people of all Arab nations and the world. He strongly believes, like his forefathers, that the continued violence and unresolved issues in the area work to fuel the machinations of terrorists. These extremist groups, most notably Al Qaeda, are more than happy to have the world believing the entire Muslim community is the enemy.
King Abdullah II of Jordan is first and foremost a diplomat! He has a thorough understanding of the three religions of Jerusalem: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The King’s duty as a member of the Hashemite tribe and as a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad is to guard and protect the holy city of Jerusalem and its religious sites, specifically the Al Aqsa Mosque, to which the prophet Mohammad was taken by the angel Gabriel to embark upon the ascension and thereby establish the religion of Islam. Protecting the site has always been a tough job. King Abdullah’s own great-grandfather was assassinated at the Al Aqsa Mosque during holy prayers. Abdullah’s father was there to witness it.
These events have made King Abdullah II the significant man that he is, and he writes with the circumspect candor of a liaison of history sharing his dossier with the world.
Recently, amidst lots of saber-rattling between Israel and Iran, President Obama, whom the King clearly admires greatly, reflected King Abdullah’s words by saying, “There is a window of opportunity where this can still be resolved diplomatically.”
These two leaders are my top male heroes at this point in time! I recommend King Abdullah’s book as a fascinating memoir, a history lesson and a lesson in current events.
King Abdullah II of Jordan