We had some very interesting conversations with Syrians about their perceptions of Jordanians, and they were not very flattering. In fact, the Syrians we spoke to were downright disdainful of the Jordanians. Frequently we heard “They have no culture” or “They left their tents and forgot their culture.”
It’s not hard to see where this attitude comes from. Here they are, living in the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, with the citadel and a 9th century mosque that was a cathedral before that, in the seat of dynasties and kingdoms. Just two hours away, we’re living in a city that was a village of 5,000 people just 50 years ago.
But in Jordan’s defense, and it’s been my home long enough that I feel obliged to defend it, I said a number of times that Amman is a totally different country from the rest of the country, and in the villages like al-Mshairfeh where I lived, that history is not so far behind them as the Syrians suggest.