Thankfully, the assassination had no obvious Middle Eastern links. Even the crazier conspiracy theories blamed the CIA, FBI, Soviet Union, Cuba, the Mafia, Fidel Castro, Lyndon Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, or some combination of the above. (How many people were on that Grassy Knoll, anyway?) Jim Garrison charged an unknown New Orleans businessman named Clay Shaw, and pretty much ruined his life, though a jury acquitted him easily. Oh, yes, and Lee Harvey Oswald. (On reflection, I suspect somebody, somewhere, has blamed "Zionists," but not among mainstream conspiracy theorists.)
So for a Middle Eastern connection, I'm turning to JFK's funeral on November 24. A stunned world (these were more innocent times, though not for long) sent delegations: 90 countries were represented, almost all the independent countries with which the US had diplomatic relations at the time (thus mainly excluding Communist China, North Korea, North Vietnam Mongolia, Cuba, and perhaps a few others).
|De Gaulle & Haile Selassie at funeral|
The Middle East, being farther away, mostly was represented by their Washington Ambassadors, but some sent Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers, etc. I think the only Middle Eastern head of state was Israeli President Zalman Shazar, a figurehead, but Foreign Minister Golda Meir was also there, and I suspect the most senior female not a member of royalty.
Now here's my trivia question: of those 90 delegations half a century ago, most of the members are deceased or at least retired. So far as I can tell (please correct if there are others) [Two additions below], only two of these held senior public office then and still hold senior public office now, 50 years later.
One of these is HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II, now 92. He is still in the same job and has held it continuously.
The other is an Arab, senior then and now but in a higher-ranking job today. He is not a member of a royal family. Who is he?
You can cheat and figure it out by using Google, with little effort. I at least urge you to think about it without searching, to check your knowledge of the modern Middle East. (Don't read the comments first, either.) [Update: Add current King Harald V of Norway, then Crown Prince, and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, who reigned as Queen from 1980 until April 30 of this year. I'm not sure if "Ex-Queen" is a senior public office, but I missed these. I add them now so you won't check the comments, which give away the answer already.] I'll post the answer in a couple of days or on Friday in the highly unlikely event no one responds.