Queen Rania to Fareed Zakaria – International community is failing the Palestinian people

October 19, 2008

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department – Amman) In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, which airs on his new show GPS this Sunday at 12:00 and again at 17:00 GMT, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah focused on the humanitarian crisis in Palestine and said the international community is failing the Palestinians.

During the interview, which was taped when Queen Rania was in New York last month, the Queen warned that these failures are linked to all the grievances and tragedies in the Arab world.

Calling the situation in Gaza “intolerable”, the Queen recounted some rather grim statistics. “Unemployment is now at over 50 percent. Over 80 percent of the people living there rely on government organizations for food,” she said, “They don’t have access to basic health services or schools. Road blocks are all over the place. They can’t even move.” Saying “the onus is on the international community to try to embolden and strengthen the moderate hand”, Queen Rania emphasized the need for more involvement from the international community to “apply the right kind of pressure”. “I don’t think people by nature are extremists,” she said, “You will never find a population of extremists… Extremists start to have more leverage when the situation is bad.” Asked about the relationship between East and West and the general impression between the two global communities, Queen Rania said “I really think there’s a crisis of trust between the West and the East. We both look at each other through a veil of suspicion…. Dialogue has lost out to violence and compassion has lost out to recrimination and suspicion, and it’s very important to start mending those bridges because we all stand to lose if we don’t do that.” The Queen, who earlier this year launched a YouTube channel (www.YouTube.com/QueenRania) aimed at establishing dialogue between East and West and breaking down pre-existing stereotypes, continued to say “as soon as moderates on all sides realize that we have to stand together, the sooner the extremists will stop having the upper hand. We need to build channels of communication.” Talking about the channel, the Queen said “the idea was to get people to question their assumptions and ask questions of views they held to be true, and that was a very enlightening experience because there was a lot of anger out there, there was a lot of misunderstanding, there was a lot if ignorance. But that is just a drop in the ocean of what needs to be done. I think we need to take these initiatives at all levels.” When discussing the situation of women in the Arab world, the Queen said, “Women are beating new paths, they are breaking glass ceilings every day… if you look at Forbes’ Most Powerful Women [list], you’ll find some Muslim women in there and I find that encouraging.” Noting that there still are many challenges women face in the Arab world including battling literacy rates, cultural constrains and personal liberties, the Queen also pointed to a recent Gallup poll that “showed that the majority of Muslim and Arab men believe that women should have equal legal rights, that they should be able to vote without influence, that they should be able to apply for jobs that they are qualified for.”