Antoinette (“Toni”) Avril Gardiner, BBC1 Question Time, Bernard Goldberg, Chris Wallace Fox News Sunday, David Dimbleby, Elizabeth Najeeb Halaby, Greek debt crisis, King Abdullah II of Jordan, King Hussein of Jordan, Najeeb Hallaby, NBC David Gregory Meet the Press, politicians fight in Jordan tv studio, politicians fight in Lebanese tv studio television, Queen Noor of Jordan, Rafic Hariri, Rania Queen of Jordan, Saad al-Hariri, St. Edmund’s School Hindhead Surrey. Oxshott Surrey
Do you share the complaint that television news programming is often just, well, plain boring?
I’ve often been asked why I enjoy watching those televised efforts which, although they may indeed elevate the mind, or perhaps, seldom send the old blood pressure skywards.
In that latter category, it is often amusing to see how Mr. David (Yet-Another-) Dimbleby steps forth on such as the BBC’s “Question Time”, or how Mr. Chris Wallace (son of Mike, the recently deceased fixture on CBS for decades), and Mr. David Gregory, respectively, handle “Fox News Sunday” and NBC’s “Meet the Press”.
Mind you, Mr. Gregory’s tenure is looking decidedly uneasy. Remember the caption of the old wall poster featuring a soulful, distressed cat handing on by his claws, Hang in there, Baby!?
Think of a very grey-haired, sad-faced cat. There’s Mr. Gregory.
Why? Last month, the weekly rating for Meet the Press hit a 20-year low among viewers between the ages of 25 and 54.
“On the first Sunday of June, the public-affairs show averaged 2.46 million total viewers of all ages — but just 687,000 viewers in that key age bracket — which was its smallest 25-to-54 demographic performance for a regular broadcast since July of ’92.
Of course, in the Middle East, as any Israeli can confirm, things are rarely ever boring, even when they’re supposed to be.
Having been to Jordan, spoken with the locals, engaged in some mind-bending sightseeing, etc., I’d never thought of Jordan as quite the tinder box it is turning out to be.
With the Syrian-Neighbors-From-Hell sharing what, for Jordan, is a long 375km (say, 233mi.) common border, the Jordanians are naturally worried about a spill-over effect.
The young-ish King Abdullah II is a bit curious even by Jordanian standards, but most certainly by the standards of the other leaders of the Arab world.
His mother is English, the former Antoinette (“Toni”) Avril Gardiner, the second of four wives of the late King Hussein, who divorced her. She took Jordanian nationality, still lives in Jordan and is active in medical charities.
King Hussein’s last wife in the queue was perhaps the most famous, HM Queen Noor, nee Elizabeth Najeeb Halaby. She’s the American-born, Princeton University graduate daughter of Najeeb Hallaby.
Papa Hallaby served in the Cabinets of both Presidents Truman and Kennedy. He went on become CEO of Pan American Airways.
Like his late Dad, the current King Abdullah II (b. 1962) is a well-educated, Western-trained and -oriented man.
Mind you, he should be. Nowadays, he’s an ‘Old Boy’ of the well-reputed St. Edmund’s School, which is just off the A3 on the A287 in Hindhead, Surrey, England, down the road from Oxshott where my family and I used to live.
From there, this young Prince went to the Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts just south of the New Hampshire state line.
Also like his late father, in 1980 he too graduated from Britain’s version of the Military Academy at West Point, The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
Precisely as is the case with West Point, upon graduation, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.
His first active duty experience was in the British Army, commanding troops in “Queen Mary’s Own Regiment” The 13th/18th Royal Hussars.
On the other hand, his university days were spent in Oxford (Pembroke College) where he completed a one-year Special Studies course in Middle Eastern Affairs.
Latterly, he attended the Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C.
Not unsurprisingly, or not for the Middle East, His Majesty married Rania, a younger (b.1980) very attractive lady. She’s a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian who’s also very Westernized (American University of Cairo, ex-marketer for both Citibank and Apple, Inc., in that order).
Via good friends who are fellow Board Members with her for the Foundation for International Community Assistance (‘FINCA’), I’m aware that she is also keenly interested in microfinance.
[Their Majesties The King and Queen of Jordan]
As is clearly evident from this text, The Royal Family are neither in any way ‘typical’ nor are they ‘ordinary’ in terms of their subjects.
The 6-million Jordanians’ per capita GDP equals US$5,900 (£3,808, €4,801) per annum. That ranks 140th in the world, bracketed by Samoa (139th) and Angola (141st).
Not that any of this seems to affect the Jordanian Parliament, which oftentimes makes late Saturday night discussions in an Irish bar look positively demure, even after the disputatious chaps ‘take it outside’.
Indeed, for one television news anchor in Jordan’s capital, Amman, however, some discussions become rather less than sedate. Some get positively, well, peevish.
After trading insults with activist, parliamentarian first throws a shoe and then points a gun at adversary. Host tries to break up brawl. No shots fired
A Jordanian member of parliament pulled a gun on a political activist during a furious debate live on Jordanian TV on Friday.
[If this clip does not open, my apologies. Kindly copy and paste this into your browser or click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlanr438vI8]
The MP, named in a YouTube clip of the confrontation as Mohammed Shawabka, was debating a political activist named in the clip as Mansour Sayf al-Din Murad, discussing aspects of Jordanian politics, including attitudes surrounding the uprising in Syria.
As the discussion became more heated, each of the men accused the other of various crimes and deviancies, including working for the Israeli Mossad intelligence agency. “You’re a Mossad agent,” said one. “You’re a big crook,” said the other.
The MP stood up and began screaming and pointing at the activist, who was sitting opposite him, while the host of the program, Mohammed Habashneh, seated in the center, desperately urged his guests to “calm down.”
Instead, the MP sat back down, bent over and took off his right shoe, and threw it at the activist, who ducked behind his desk, knocking it over.
Then the MP pulled a gun — a silver pistol — out of his waistband and briefly brandished it toward the activist, who walked toward him. The MP kept holding the gun, but was no longer pointing it at his critic.
The two men struggled, with the parliamentarian again careful now not to point the gun at his adversary, while the panicked host circumnavigated the strewn furniture to try to break up the fight.
But the two men would not be easily separated, and the brawl continued for some time before the program cut to the credits.
Is that news, entertainment, or what?
Then again, if you live any country neighboring Syria, what’s what in Syria raises politicians’ passions.
Have another look at the map and see where Lebanon sits just north of Syria. Lebanese politicians also seem to robustly display their strong views as well.
[If this clip does not open, my apologies. Kindly copy and paste this into your browser or click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UMHzNQIF20]
The two politicians were Mustafa Alloush, seen with a blue tie, a bald former MP and who is aligned with the anti-Syrian movement led by former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. [NB: It was his father, Rafic, who died instantaneously when his car was blown to smithereens by a bomb in the road.]
The moustached Fayez Shukor, who was wearing a red tie, is the leader of the Lebanon branch of the ruling Ba’ath party in Syria.
The tension between Alloush and Shukor turned physical when Alloush described Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a ”liar”.
Shukor shot back telling him: ”Your boss is a liar” referring to Hariri, who was forced out of government in January.
The two men then proceeded to hurl insults at each other. A glass of water was thrown and a chair was held up in the air while the presenter tried to intervene to stop the two from fist fighting – all broadcast live on the show entitled… With Objectivity.
Yet another, “only the Middle East” moment!
Syria is historically influential in Lebanese politics, and many fear the unfolding crisis there will have a direct effect on Lebanon with the country divided sharply among those who support Assad’s regime and those who are against it.
Perhaps there’s just something about being in or near The Levant, part of the “Cradle of Civilisation” that causes hot-blood to run, or?
Maybe it’s simply because one is smack dab in the Middle East that the well-advertised brotherly love amongst all the members of the Arab bloc….. What?! Er, uhm, maybe not so much.
After all, what we call “civilization” is surely the total sum of the material and cultural achievements of any group of people.
Art and culture are two concepts closely interwoven, since art is the characteristic expression of the culture of a given period. Arts such as architecture, sculpture, pottery, weaving, music, jewelry-making and painting have a long-term tradition in Greece, where civilizations developed as long ago as the Prehistoric Era.
Civilizations with very impressive achievements developed in Greece during the Bronze Age (approx. 3,000 B.C. – 1,150 B.C.) and in a land which has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Age (say, 120,000 B.C. – 10,000 B.C.).
However, even in Enlightened Greece, the wretched state of the economy is stirring up the political scene, as this report from Al-Jazeera indicates:
[If this clip does not open, my apologies. Kindly copy and paste this into your browser or click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzwuXBeSxus
Maybe the BBC has it right after all. Perhaps all the rest of the world’s television news presenters should be like Question Time’s 74-year old Mr. David Dimbleby.
After all, from a very good public school (US readers: think ‘private’) at Charterhouse, then Christ Church Oxford, studying Italian in Perugia, French in Paris, this Mr. Dimbleby has both the intellectual depth and equilibrium to operate an inherently confrontational show.
But, whatever would they make of him in the Middle East?!
Or, if he’s not keen, how about a seasoned, highly-intelligent veteran newsman like ex-CBS correspondent, Bernard Goldberg, who’s nowadays an author, a columnist, and television news analyst-contributor?
Ah yes, there’s that wee issue of his being Jewish and thus considered, by the Holy Qu’ran “a descendent of apes and pigs”. (Verse 5:60, as well as 2:65 and 7.166 both re apes, only).
Perhaps “Cradle of Civilization” needs a re-think. “Cradle”? Maybe. The rest?
Perhaps that was meant to be the ‘aspirational’ bit? With such extremists-at-large, what today passes for civilization in this region is currently far more ‘crippled’ than ‘cradled’.
Nonetheless, none can say the area around the Mediterranean offers boring news programming.
Perhaps a nice digestif might make all this settle a bit better. Care to join me in a large snifter of brandy?
Kayla J. Adams, The Times of Israel, Jordanian MP pulls a gun…
Al-Jazeera’s Mr. Bhanu Bhatnagar
BBC1′s “Question Time” and Mr. David Dimbleby BBC1 Question Time
Mr. Bernard Goldberg, www.bernardgoldberg.com