Queen Rania Fellowship for Middle Eastern Studies Announced

September 23, 2009

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department- New York) In an address at Yale University in Connecticut, on Tuesday, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah called for greater political courage in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Following remarks from Yale President Richard Levin, Her Majesty reflected on the desperate plight of the Palestinian people, underlining the deprivation and despair brought about by years of instability and stalled hopes.

“Their pain is about more than the loss of their land, their olive trees, their livelihoods.  Their grief is about more than being kicked out of the homes in which their families have lived for generations,” Her Majesty said. 

Describing the “identity theft” that Palestinians have endured for over 60 years, Her Majesty added: “Each new claim on their ever-shrinking space feels like a blow to their very existence. Having no place to call their own is like having no identity at all,” added Her Majesty.

In contrast to the many historical changes that have occurred in the past few decades, bringing positive developments and progress across globe, Her Majesty expressed regret that the Palestinian cause still remains unresolved.

“When it comes to Palestine, time has not been a friend. To the contrary, sometimes Palestine seems like the land that time forgot,” Queen Rania reflected.

“In Palestine, walls are going up, not coming down, four hundred kilometers to be precise.  The decades have brought what feels like an endless parade of starts and stalemates, missed opportunities, shattered hopes and diminishing returns,” she added.

Addressing 1500 Yale students in the auditorium and through a live feed, Queen Rania also took the opportunity to highlight the desperate humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where 1.1 million people, almost 70% of Gaza’s population, live as refugees with their homes lying in rubble.

On the political front, said the Queen, the path to peaceful coexistence requires courage, accountability and action, including a sustained commitment from the international community and the Arab world.

“We decry the actions of Israeli extremists, but must work harder to rein in our own.  We look to the West to do more in support of Palestinian needs, but must do our part – and must press the Palestinians toward unity among themselves,” said Queen Rania.

Citing His Majesty King Abdullah, Queen Rania also emphasized it is time for Israel to choose: “To integrate into the region, accepted and accepting, with normal relations with its neighbors.  Or to remain fortress Israel, isolated, and holding itself and the entire region a hostage to continuing confrontation.”

In her remarks, Queen Rania also expressed appreciation of the diplomatic efforts led by the US, and President Barack Obama’s assertions to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution. 

Fulfilling the Palestinians' hopes to establish their state, Her Majesty emphasized, would also strengthen security and stability in the entire region as “the crisis in Palestine does not exist in a vacuum.”

“True peace depends not just on new lines on a map.  It is not just the walls on the land that must go.  We must take down the walls in our hearts.  There has been so much pain, so much loss, so much fear, so much hatred and mistrust.  True peace depends on reconnecting the bonds of our common humanity,” noted Queen Rania.     

To the cynicism that threatens the hope of achieving peace and to those who believe the problematic remains intractable, Her Majesty repeated: “If we throw up our hands and say, “This problem is too hard,” we’re not just writing off a “process” or writing off a “road map.”  We’re writing off people’s lives.”

To truly make peace in the Middle East, or anywhere in the world, Her Majesty continued, “We all have to learn to think into other people’s places. To put ourselves in other people’s shoes.  To make room for other people’s hopes and fears.  For the more we can appreciate one another’s perspective, the more dimension and depth we add to our own,” she concluded.

Following the remarks, Her Majesty participated in a Q&A session with the students led by President Levin.  And in honor of Her Majesty's visit to Yale University, President Levin announced the establishment of a Queen Rania Fellowship for Middle Eastern Studies.  The Fellowship will be awarded in 2010 to an incoming student from the Middle East region.  Later, Her Majesty met with representatives from the Yale World Fellow program, the Council for Middle Eastern studies and the Arab Student Association.