Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Our Last Best Chance by King Abdullah II

I first became interested in the man who would become King Abdullah II of Jordan when he made a cameo appearance on an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. At the time, he was still a prince. Apparently he is a huge fan of Star Trek. When I heard about his book, published in 2011, I knew I had to read it. The world needs more leaders who believe in the philosophy of Star Trek (all peoples, educated and living in peace, with good work to do and sufficient food, water, and shelter).

I am not a student of the affairs in the Middle East, and I’m sure there are people who will disagree with some of what is written in Our Last Best Chance: The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril. However, I found the narrative accessible and the narrator compelling. In the book, the author tries to shed light on the Middle East for American readers. King Abdullah II was educated in the United States and England, and Jordan is a friend to the United States. He says, “I have been highly critical at times of Israel’s behavior and intransigence, but it goes without saying that there is plenty of blame to go around on both sides for the failure of the peace process.” He also writes, “One of the more frustrating misconceptions in the West is that all Arab women are oppressed, illiterate, kept at home to look after children, and forced to wear the veil when they venture out of the house. Many women across Jordan and the Arab world…go to university and then achieve great things in their professional careers.” He tackles other misconceptions about the Middle East as well.

One of the things King Abdullah II has accomplished is the creation of a co-educational academy in Jordan offering scholarships to those unable to afford the fees. All students are treated equally; even his own son has do his chores and take his turn waiting on tables for other students. One goal is to help Jordanian students compete in the modern global economy. The proceeds from the sales of this book support the school’s scholarship fund.

King Abdullah II is an unusual world leader. If you would be interested in reading about the Middle East, Arabs, and Muslims from a point of view other than what we usually hear on American television, from someone who lives in the Middle East and deals with the issues every day, I recommend Our Last Best Chance.

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