A New Kind of War Coming to the Middle East


The world is a serious place, too serious most of the time and the Middle East is one of least funny places. War and violent political turmoil are hardly proper subjects for a good joke. However, there was news in February perfectly suited to caricature and late night standup. In what may or may not have been coincidental news items, both Jordan and Israel are considering casinos.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday announced the formation of a steering committee headed by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin to explore the possibility of allowing casinos in the southern resort city of Eilat. Joshua Davidovich, Times of Israel, 2-17-16

Casinos in Aqaba, the Jordanian port on the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba, as well as other areas of development are being considered to be licensed by Jordan’s Vice Prime Minister Ali Abu al-Ragheb. The casinos would be located in a special area. Yogonet, 2-17-16

The details vary, Israel is thinking of only one location and Jordan is considering four locations. Most of the time, Israel and Jordan agree on nothing, but in this they agree on one thing; the Red Sea is a perfect place for a casino. If you saw Peter O’Toole leading the Arab Legion through the desert to capture the Port of Aqaba in Lawrence of Arabia, you know the place. Aqaba and Eilat are both on the Red Sea, just down the beach from each other. Both cities are natural tourist sites with hotels, restaurants and beachfront activities. Tourists cannot walk between the resorts, but they can see one from the other and if they wanted they could wave.

Of course, casino resorts are in the distant future, subject to much debate. The announcements produced immediate political backlash. The opposition in Israel is ethical, social and religious. In Jordan the dissent is primarily religious. The proposed legislation addresses these concerns, although not enough to end the opposition. In Jordan, the casinos would not permit Jordanians to gamble, but probably permit Muslims from other countries to take a flutter. The Israeli proposal would protect its citizens by putting the casinos on the other side of an inhospitable desert. Remember how difficult it was for Lawrence and his army to cross that desert?

The argument for casinos in Israel is one heard often in this country; people gamble anyway, but in other countries. A casino in Israel would keep Israelis and their money at home. Currently, they are going to Egypt, Greece or Europe to gamble; no state or country wants its citizens spending their dollars abroad if they can prevent it. This is not the first time Israel and Jordan have discussed permitting casinos and neither may allow one this time. But the world is changing and casinos are more acceptable everywhere now than they once were, so it might happen.

I like to imagine it will because it would add some fun and non-violent, non-lethal competition to a land filled with violent confrontation. With casinos instead of battles of armies, there would be battles of promotions. “Come to Aqaba, we have triple odds on craps!” “No, come to Eilat, we will match their odds and give you better ones!” “Aqaba has $10 all you can eat buffets!” Eilat has the best buffets on the Red Sea, just $8!” “If they have rooms for $50, we will offer rooms for $40!” “Anything they can do, we can do better!” It could be like the marketing wars of the 1990’s in Laughlin – great fun and nobody gets hurt. It would be a new way to make war in the Middle East, something we all desperately need.

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1 Response to “A New Kind of War Coming to the Middle East”


  1. 1 Duncan Winn February 24, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    I love it! Peace through gaming! There are a lot of barbarians living there though. Security would have to be a bit tighter then Laughlin.


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