By MYRON LOVE
It’s a strange phenomenon: While certain Western media and academics, European leaders and leftist politicians continue to demonize Israel over largely fictional mistreatment of Palestinians, those supposedly oppressed Palestinians and Arab countries as a whole continue to draw ever closer to the Jewish State and its citizens.
Could it be that Israel’s Arab neighbours have a much more realistic view of the virtues of Israel than those who live thousands of miles away?
First, to the Palestinians - in a report by Melanie Phillips on online publication World Jewish Review on May 22nd, the British writer noted that Palestinian Arab leaders met the head of the Samaria Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, to discuss Trump’s Middle East “deal of the century,” and Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank). She identifies the participants as Sheikh Abu Khalil Tamimi of Ramallah, Mohammed Massad of Jenin and Israeli-Arab activist Sara Zoabi, “as well as other leaders who hid their identities in fear for their lives”.
She quotes Tamimi as saying, “we want to get ready for the regional changes, to concentrate on economic cooperation. Also with the settlers, led by Yossi Dagan, we need to think together what our common future will look like.”
She further quotes Muhammad Massad, head of the Palestinian Workers’ Union, as saying that “if the Israeli worker and the Palestinian worker work together caring for each other, together in joy and together in difficult moments, then our children will be ashamed of the fight. Peace negotiations will not be necessary because there is peace.”
Added Zoabi: “I think the deal of the century is the right thing for Arabs and Israelis. I know that a large percentage of Palestinians are interested in the program and applying sovereignty, and even pray for it.”
Phillips adds that “such positivity was echoed in a video meeting this week between Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and the heads of 130 companies participating in the Collective Impact Partnership for Arab Employment, which seeks improvements in the employment of Arabs in Israel’s largest companies.”
As well, she cites comments by Dr. Sameer Kassem, co-chair of the Collective Impact Partnership for Arab Employment, saying that early fears that Arab society would be disproportionately hit by the COVID-19 virus had not been realized. “In the last few days, we have seen the strength of Israeli society, our society, that has taken care of its workers—Jews and Arabs alike.”
This comes despite the Abbas Government’s efforts to prevent any normalization between its Palestinian citizens and Israelis. Mahmoud Abbas is once again making empty threats about stopping any further security co-ordination between his security forces and the Israelis should Israel go ahead and formally annex the areas of Judea and Samaria that are home to already long-standing Jewish communities. That is a threat that Abbas has made many times before over other issues – a threat that he has never carried out.
(Are Israel-bashers aware that Palestinian and Israeli security forces work together closely on Judea and Samaria to pre-empt terrorist attacks which threaten Abbas as well as Arab and Jewish Israelis?)
Reflecting the title of Phillips’ column, “Israel-Bashers Fail to See the Arab Train Leaving the Station”, she reports several recent instances of positive moves toward Israel emanating from the Arab World.
“For example, in Mid-May, she notes, news broke that an Etihad Airways plane on a direct flight from Dubai landed in Tel Aviv to deliver a consignment of virus aid to the Palestinians. This was the first known direct commercial flight between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
(Naturally, Abbas who, in Western eyes, is the heroic leader of the Palestinians and potential “peace partner” for Israel, refused to accept the aid for his people. Better in his view that they die rather than accept help that comes from a fellow Arab country through Israel.)
She further cites two recent TV drama series broadcast by the Dubai-based Saudi MBC, “Umm Haroun” and “Exit 7,” that “have been at least reasonably sympathetic to the Jewish people and Israel while criticizing the Palestinians”.
“Umm Haroun”, she writes, covers the establishment of the State of Israel, depicted as a monumental event that disrupts the harmony between Muslims and Jews and leads to the murder of a Jewish resident.
“The main character in “Exit 7” says he does business with Israel because it is not really an enemy,” she notes. “Hinting at the Palestinians, he says the real enemy is “someone who doesn’t appreciate you.”
She points out that “these shows, which have provoked an uproar, are trial balloons designed to test public opinion over normalizing relations with Israel”.
“In a similar vein, she continues, a Saudi writer, Abdulhamed al Ghobain, a political activist who reportedly shares the viewpoint of the reformist Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, told BBC Arabic TV that “there is a deluge of opinions against the Palestinian cause. … Unfortunately, the Palestinians have lost. The Palestinians have not contributed anything. We can say that they are emotional people whose behavior is governed by their feelings …
“People say out in the open that they do not care about the Palestinian cause and about the Arabs in general, and that we must steer our relations in keeping with our interests. Israel is an advanced country and we can benefit from it. We should deal with reality. The relations with Israel have become warm. It is no longer just about normalization.”
Of course, this doesn’t mean that peace is about to break out all over. Israel has had peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan for decades, yet, in both countries (as well as in the West), Imams continue to demonize Jews and Israel and, among the Jordanian and Egyptian populations, there is an appalling level of ignorance about Jews and Israel.
I recall one (true) story about a Jewish girl whose family was forced to flee Egypt just a few years ago. At first, the girl kept looking to see if Jews had tails - which is what she had been taught in school in Egypt.
Then there was the case of an Israeli Arab who flew into Cairo. Someone noticed that he had an Israeli passport and he was quickly surrounded by a hostile mob. The Egyptians couldn’t believe that there were Arabs living in Israel and, when he was able to convince them, they couldn’t understand why he wasn’t fighting for his freedom from the Jews.
While Phillips cautions that “progress towards sanity should not be exaggerated. Nevertheless, the moves towards normalization with Israel are immensely significant. For decades, the Arab world has used the Palestinian cause to protect its ruling elites from the anger of its people. Now it sees that its interests actually lie elsewhere, the Palestinians have become disposable. Their only supporters now are Iran and the useful idiots of the West.”