As the west goes in one direction, so the Arab world is now going in the other.
While British and western “progressive” circles descend ever deeper into the sewers of antisemitism and its contemporary mutation, the campaign to exterminate the State of Israel, the Arab world is beginning to renounce its own desire to wipe Israel off the map.
Prominent figures from 15 Arab countries met in London last week to reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement — whose aim is to destroy Israel — and encourage the establishment of relations with Israel instead.
The Clarion Project reports that participants were drawn from Morocco, Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and the Gulf states and included journalists, artists, politicians, diplomats, Quranic scholars, women and young people. The meeting was publicised only after its participants returned to their native countries. The New York Times was allowed to post a live stream of the meeting (held in Arabic) after the event.
“The Times reported that the group in London agreed that ‘BDS] has only helped [Israel] while damaging Arab nations that have long shunned the Jewish state. Demonizing Israel has cost Arab nations billions in trade.’ Mustafa el-Dessouki, an Egyptian who is the managing editor of the prominent news magazine Majalla (which is funded by Saudi Arabia), was one of the main organizers of the meeting.
“In recent travels around the Middle East, Dessouki said met many Arabs with similar views to his, including citizens of Lebanon. This was in spite of the fact that the Arab news media and entertainment industry have long been ‘programming people toward this hostility’ against Israel and Jews, he said, while politicians were ‘intimidating and scaring people into manifesting it.’”
Meanwhile, also last week the Israeli foreign ministry brought to Israel a group of journalists from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Egypt.
“Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one of the journalists, who was described as a prominent figure in Saudi Arabia, said: ‘There is no escape from establishing normal relations with Israel.’ By ‘normal relations’ he said he meant ‘real peace,’ not the peace that is currently seen between the Egyptian and Jordanian governments with Israel, which he criticized for fomenting hate against Israel. In regards to the Palestinian issue, the Saudi said, ‘Why should the Arab world ignite problems with Israel and the super-powers because of a small minority? This minority had a chance to form a state in ’47 but refused because it only dealt with the question, “Why do the Jews have an independent country?””
“When asked about his experience touring Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, he said, “‘When people heard I am from Saudi Arabia, they were amazed. Not in a hostile manner, but by accepting who I was. I love the Jewish people and all the citizens of Israel,’ he concluded in Hebrew.”
Wow. In a repressive state like Saudi Arabia, people do not speak out like this unless they know they have the tacit approval of the regime. And there have been others. In the summer a Saudi blogger, Mohammed Saud, was violently attacked by Palestinians when he made a high-profile visit to Israel. They spat at him and cursed him as an “animal” and a “Zionist”, and one threw a plastic chair at him. But he still spoke out about what he had found.
“Visiting Israel, he said, was like ‘being in heaven’. ‘For those people who hate Israel,’ he concluded, ‘I would like you to think deeply, and I invite you to come and visit Israel. You will find a different experience. You will find that most of the propaganda and the bad media about Israel is not true.’’’
Earlier in the year, after Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets at southern Israel over a two-day span resulting in Israeli air-strikes and the assassination of a top Hamas commander, several prominent Saudi journalists and intellectuals expressed support for Israel and blamed Iran for the outbreak in hostilities.
One of them, the former director of the Middle East Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, Abd Al-Hamid Al-Hakim, wrote to the Israelis: “Our hearts are with you. May Allah protect Israel and its people. We will not let the treacherous hand of Iran and its agents in Gaza reach the Israeli people,” he added.
Wow and wow again. Seasoned western observers of the Arab world, however, sniff that this is all merely tactical positioning, led by Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to gain the support of both Israel and the US in Saudi Arabia’s battle against Iran and is of no lasting significance.
Maybe. We’ll know for certain that something really momentous is happening if and when these Arab states stop pumping out their eye-watering Jewish conspiracy theories and deranged medieval blood libels about Jews using the blood of gentile children in baking their Passover matzos – the kind of murderous lies that are now being circulated as fact in degraded, de-moralised and decadent Britain (to the astonishment and horror of its many decent citizens, who are only now beginning to realise the nature and extent of the poison that is coursing through their country).
It’s obviously advisable to be cautious. A few reforming voices in the Arab world don’t necessarily mean a cultural revolution is under way. But it could just be that something quite revolutionary is now developing which hitherto would have been thought utterly impossible — an acceptance by the Arab world of the tiny, ancient homeland of the Jewish people alongside the vast lands of Islam.
History shows that societies which respect the Jews prosper; societies that despise them set the seal on their own destruction. It’s a lesson that the Arab world may slowly be beginning to learn – while the west slides towards a cultural precipice that few within it even realise is there.