So this evening, for my IR class, we went to the World Affairs Council (not really sure what it is but it sounds impressive) for a lecture by this guy, Dr. Jawad Anani, who is the former chief of the Royal Court for King Hussein and is/was the Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and on and on with a very impressive resume, but was really just a funny old man who reminded me of my dad in 20 years. Anyway he gave this 20 minute lecture on Jordanian foreign policy and then opened it up to questions. His lecture was interesting – not so much for what he said but more so for what he didn’t say. He told us lots of nice stuff about Jordan but skimmed over anything that might be interesting or controversial, and painted everything in a favorable light (I think that is a combination of expressions). This was especially true in answering questions. For example I asked him how Jordan defines terrorism (he had mentioned in the lecture that they define it differently than the US/Bush), and to reply he basically said it’s a fluid definition and it depends on the situation but the most important thing is security. And then he started talking about Israel and Gaza, so of course I agreed with his point, but he didn’t answer my question. What is that? That’s not a definition. That’s just secrecy. There were other questions, too, that he didn’t answer and just danced around…
It was just interesting to see how governments, and I don’t really have enough experience with American politicians to make similar judgments, will go to great lengths to protect themselves and not incite opposition. Like why is a state definition of terrorism such a secret? Or does it purposely not exist because it gives the state the power to judge on a case by case basis and prosecute for “terrorism” perhaps in a situation where it might not ‘really’ be present? Or like targeted arrests, like in Egypt under Nasser? Ah, strong police states. Love it.
Anyway so then after the lecture was over, a few of us (all girls, because girls are smarter than boys) stuck around for the weekly World Affairs Council meeting, which was literally a group of like 15 old Arab men and one woman sitting around in arm chairs drinking coffee and discussing world issues, like the economics in Dubai and the issues in Gaza (in Arabic, which is what made it cool). So we hung out and felt smart for a while, nodding along with everyone else and looking offended when Israel’s wrongdoings were mentioned, feeling wise in the ways of the world and erudite in the company of Jordan’s political and academic elite.
The other cool thing (this is it, I promise) was that I guess some guy from their Dead Poet’s Society died the other day so at the beginning of the meeting they did this thing, like held their hands up with the fingers curled facing them (like in Havdallah when the candle is supposed to reflect off your fingernails) and then like washed their faces kind of? I don’t know, it looked pretty cool because they basically did it in unison and it seemed like a nice kind of memorial ritual. I’ll have to figure more out about it. Or I’ll have to wait for someone else to die, God forbid.