JERUSALEM — If one asks an average Israeli to list the subjects on which all Israelis agree, he or she will have quite a problem doing so.
When one examines the general Israeli view toward the late King Hussein of Jordan, one shall be surprised to see a consensus.
Hussein was highly appreciated and even admired here in Israel. Right-wing supporters, left-wing supporters, secular Jews, orthodox Jews, Muslims and Christians respected and admired the man.
He truly seemed to be a person who sought true and lasting peace in the region, without denying the right of the Jewish country to exist.
Two things are especially remembered here in Israel regarding Hussein:
First, he showed great courage when he decided to sign a peace contract with the state of Israel in 1994 with then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. This contract, by the way, was also supported by a vast majority of the Israeli public (about 90 percent).
Second, after a Jordanian soldier viciously attacked a group of Israeli female students, killing seven of them and wounding others, Hussein chose to pay a personal visit to the victims’ families and offer his deepest condolences.
This act was very much appreciated by Israeli citizens, and showed incredible nobility. He didn’t have to come to the families but he chose to do so, and this spoke much more than condemning the attack with words.
Many Israelis feel now, after Hussein’s death, that the Middle East lost a courageous leader, who had helped a great deal with the peace process. Some people have even said they are as saddened by his death as they were when Rabin was assassinated in 1995.
However, I strongly recall one reaction to his death made by an Israeli woman, who was interviewed on Israeli television.
She said she was truly sorry for Hussein’s death and then told the television reporter that her attitude surprises even herself.
I am a right-wing supporter, I don’t trust the Arab leaders and I don’t believe any of their promises. But Hussein was different. I think he truly was. And perhaps this opinion says it all.
Arik Sadan studies computer science in Jerusalem and is a native of Rehovot, Israel.