On April 24, 1998, His Majesty was awarded the German Media Prize. The prize is given annually to a public figure voted on by members of the German media. The ceremony was attended by Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, as well as former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
In his acceptance speech, King Hussein focuses primarily on the need to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and defend it from dangers. He calls for the United States and Europe to assume the role of active, objective partners to reestablish the peace process on the bases on which it was founded, and reiterates Jordans support for the Palestinians and their leader, President Arafat.
Address to Representatives of the German Media
April 24, 1998
President Herzog, President Arafat, my old friend Shimon Peres, Mr. Kogel,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In all the years that pass in ones life, from the very early to the more advanced, there are moments that are extremely touching. There are expressions that touch the heart and soul and live with one for as long as life. I thank you Mr. President, for such were your words and your feelings. I am truly overwhelmed.
I thank you my friend for your kind welcome and I thank you all for the honor bestowed upon me todaythe German Media Awardthe jury who chose me to be the recipient of this honor this year, and the many friends whom I see around here this evening. I thank Queen Noor for her help and support through difficult times and not so difficult times. I thank her as a partner in the struggle of life. A struggle dedicated to serve ideas, lofty principles, dear objectives, and what could be more precious than life itself, Gods gift to us all. Life in peace, life with mutual respect, life with confidence, life with a feeling of security. Life that is worthwhile. And what greater task would there be than to try to contribute for future generations the kind of life that we have missed, or been denied?
Friends in Germany, friends in Europe, your accomplishments are truly great and are inspiring to all of us in our part of the world, and we watch you and we share with you the pride in your great accomplishments of coming together in harmony, in mutual respect, in cooperation, in all fields, in all areas.
We in our part of the world have all the more reason to learn from you and to learn from the facts that brought us to this earth. To recognize ourselvesArabs, Jews, Christians, Muslims, the descendants of the Children of Abraham that in itself should be our greatest challenge. To come together, to work together, to revive the reality of our common struggle way in the past that helped contribute to the world of today its culture, its civilization, its progress.
Sir, it takes so many in this world, each with an individual view and thought and background, and you quoted an important quote and an apt one, and I can only say: God help us from those who believe that they are the sole possessors of truth. How we manage at times to agree willingly to become prisoners within our own minds and souls of beliefs and ideas on which we can never be flexible.
How can we resolve problems if we do not place ourselves in the position of others with whom we have problems? How can we move ahead if we do not have mutual respect for each other, and stemming from it, trust? How can we move ahead if we do not have a common objective that we are committed to reach? These are questions that are in the minds of many in our part of the world at this time.
Palestinians, Jordanians, Israelis, Arabswe are indeed at a critical moment. A moment that can see us move forward, to continue to build the essential building blocks of peace, particularly on the Palestinian-Israeli dimension, the essence of the problem, and then Syria and Lebanon. And then to transform the whole region into a region of peace. Violence there has been. Tragic, painful, hurtful, condemned by so many, abhorred by so many. But it is the work of a minority. A minority here and a minority there, who cannot move, who cannot think, who cannot break away from their prejudices and shortsightedness.
Some even claim this is the way to God. In my belief, from the innermost of my heart, I believe this is the way which is exactly the opposite, and those are the enemies of life, the enemies of humanity, the enemies of peace and stability, the enemies of security. They are there, they will continue to be there, and they may be quieter at times, if we are more aware and able to cope with them and what they represent in the way of a threat. Or if they feel that things are going badly for the cause of peace, then they are satisfied that they have contributed towards that end, and therefore they are relatively quiet.
We cannot afford to lose time. We cannot afford to lose the opportunity to move forward. Throughout the journey of life and for many many years Ive known my brother President Arafat. Im very touched by the fact that he honors me this evening for being with us and by being here. He had his aims, he had his objectives, and so did I. We lacked the ability to communicate and understand each other many a time, and there were many times that we didnt see eye to eye. But this man has learned, as great people learn, through experience. He has fought, he has struggled, he has come to the conclusion, which I share with him, that it is futile to do anything except to commit to peacepeace and a better future for peoples.
He has done everything he could without a long-established state to back him, with territories under occupation, with difficulties with every day, with nothing to show--certainly not very much at recent times--for all the troubles, for all the work, for all the commitment. Particularly in the area where it affects people, where it affects people in terms of the quality of life and its improvement. Where it indicates to people, the overwhelming majority of people who belong to the peace camp, that peace, although slow in coming, brings with it benefits. Brings with it a difference between a dark yesterday and a bright tomorrow. I can assure him that hes not alone. He will have my fullest support as long as I live, and that of my country.
Shimon Peres, I thank you for joining in honoring me this evening. A foe of a very very long time ago, and a friend of a certainly important part of life and years that have passed. A visionary, a dreamer, a man committed to the cause of peace, and a man who doesnt give up. A man with a mission. We have shared many dreams, many hopes. We are still not there. We havent seen them realized. But that does not alter the fact that we will do whatever we can to ensure that we make our fullest contribution towards an attainment.
In the way of give and take at this stage of negotiations, of progress, of charting the path towards peace, I believe all of us agree that we must insist and accept no less than to have agreements reached as sacrosanct. We cannot change our minds time and again. We cannot alter facts because we havent thought enough during a process leading to a certain decision and conclusion. And as to the facts and the foundations, let me recite them briefly. Peace will be based on Security Council Resolution 242, i.e. land for peace; the Madrid Conference; the Oslo Agreement; negotiations leading to the Hebron Agreement, with the United States commitment to ensuring implementation, of which Jordan is a witness; the continued acceptance of the United States in particular as a partner, and I repeat partner, in bringing about comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. An objective, active partner is, in our firm view, neither a perpetual messenger between the parties, nor a silent, immaterial observer.
I say this, and there are examples in history that support what I say. The first move between Egypt and Israel led to Camp David, and led to a crisis which was only resolved with the personal interference and active participation of the President of the United States of America. Whether we liked it at the time or we didnt, whether we sought a comprehensive peace at the time or we didnt, this is a fact. So when we hear some say "we do not accept diktat," as I heard recently from a colleague in the area, it is not a question of diktat. Nobody accepts diktat. But when things go wrong, friends, the United States, our friends in Europe, are duty bound, in my view, to come to help with suggestions that are objective, that are balanced with ideas, because it is in the interest of all of us and the generations that are to come to achieve comprehensive peace.
And when we talk of partners, what is the meaning of partners if this does not manifest itself in good times and bad times, in difficult times and otherwise, in our working together, to resolve all problems and to bring about progress. Progress that means a better life for all. There is nothing worse than fear, and there is nothing more criminal than trying to instill fear in the minds and in the hearts of people, or revive old fears. We will continue to do our utmost to fight terrorism wherever and whenever we can and wherever it rears its head, its ugly head. We have paid with Jordanian lives in the past. Palestinians have paid, Israelis have paid. It is a common enemy. The struggle is between the overwhelming majority of people that belong to the camp of peace and the minority who oppose it.
But I have hope, great hope, and I have said it before and Ill repeat it before you. Sir, I wear a tie which may not go with what Im wearing this evening, but it is a tie of what its called the "Seeds of Peace." These are a group of brilliant children, boys and girls alike, that have come together from Israel, from Palestine, from Jordan, from the Arab World, over the last several years to meet in the United States and later in the area itself. It has been traumatic for them, as I understand in the first few days, against what they heard and what they learned, and what they felt. But gradually they were able to overcome that, and some of the best friendships and the strongest ties have come to exist between these children. Ive always felt amongst them that I could not differentiate between one and the other. The same young, hopeful, determined, courageous, beautiful people, and I often wonder whether we, the elder generations, could not learn from them.
The challenge, I believe, before us is: have we spent too much of life to be able to change, to be able to learn? Or is the challenge to do so even if it meant doing so from our children. It is for them that well work. It is for their better future that we struggle. It is for peace. It is for the Holy Land to once again inspire the world with the message of God, our one God. And it is for peace to come between the descendants of the Children of Abraham that we will do our utmost for as long as life.
On behalf of Noor and for myself and for all those who accompany me from Jordan, I thank you, Mr. President, for your great kindness. I thank you my brother, President Arafat. I thank you my brother, Shimon Peres. I thank you all.
The crossroad is there. Let us hope that God will give us additional courage and determination to take the right course. I look at the Israeli scene. A prime minister, democratically elected, leading that country at this moment. I hope and pray that he will come to share, having promised that hes committed to the course of peace, the thoughts and feelings that all of us have. And we call on our friends to help and support. We do not reject it. We insist on it. You are our partners, and a partner is not anything but involved, and anything but concerned, for something that is as great as peace in our part of the world.
Wa Salaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu.