Slowly, Arab Attitudes toward Israel Are Changing

Dec. 19 2019

In the 1960s, what Ed Husain calls an “anti-Semitic craze to destroy Israel” was at its height, a force so strong that Gamal Abdel Nasser could use it to unite the fractious Arab states behind him. Now, many years later, it has begun to dissipate, and a new, somewhat more positive attitude toward the Jewish state has begun to emerge not only among rulers eager for allies in confronting Iran, but also among segments of the populace:

Polls show that the percentage of Arabs expressing trust in Islamist parties has fallen by well over a third since the uprisings of 2011. Three-quarters of Iraqis say they do not trust Islamist parties at all, and the number of young people who say they’re “not religious” is also on the rise. This generation wants Arab leaders to increase economic prosperity and minimize political conflicts. And to build alliances, including with Israel. . . .

I’ve noticed a change of mood on my own travels. I regularly meet Egyptians and others who desperately want to normalize relations with Israel. [One of the reasons offered most often is that] the events of the Arab Spring exposed the fanaticism of the Muslim Brotherhood and other related Islamist groups, with the hardliners now being viewed as a threat to both Islam as a faith and Muslims as a people. Islamic State, and other “Islamic states” are, of course, the logical outcome of Islamism. Now that this creed has been tested to destruction, it is being seen for what it is—and rejected. . . .

Israel is [also] seen by moderate Arab governments as a trade and security partner as the West sends mixed signals. Barack Obama abandoned his Arab allies when they faced threats from the Muslim Brotherhood or Iran. . . . This lesson in unreliability has not been forgotten.

“Of course,” Husain adds, “there is a lot of history to overcome.” Just a few days ago, in fact, Saudi Arabia—whose ever-closer relations with Israel have become an open secret—revoked the citizenship of a vocally pro-Israel journalist for unspecified reasons.

Read more at Spectator

More about: Arab anti-Semitism, Iran, Islamism, Israel-Arab relations, Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi Arabia

Why President Biden Needs Prime Minister Netanyahu as Much as Netanyahu Needs Biden

Sept. 28 2023

Last Wednesday, Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time since the former’s inauguration. Since then, Haim Katz, Israel’s tourism minister, became the first Israeli cabinet member to visit Saudi Arabia publicly, and Washington announced that it will include the Jewish state in its visa-waiver program. Richard Kemp, writing shortly after last week’s meeting, comments:

Finally, a full nine months into Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest government, President Joe Biden deigned to allow him into his presence. Historically, American presidents have invited newly installed Israeli prime ministers to the White House shortly after taking office. Even this meeting on Wednesday, however, was not in Washington but in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Such pointed lack of respect is not the way to treat one of America’s most valuable allies, and perhaps the staunchest of them all. It is all about petty political point-scoring and interfering in Israel’s internal democratic processes. But despite his short-sighted rebuke to the state of Israel and its prime minister, Biden actually needs at least as much from Netanyahu as Netanyahu needs from him. With the 2024 election looming, Biden is desperate for a foreign-policy success among a sea of abject failures.

In his meeting with Netanyahu, Biden no doubt played the Palestinian issue up as some kind of Saudi red line and the White House has probably been pushing [Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman] in that direction. But while the Saudis would no doubt want some kind of pro-forma undertaking by Israel for the sake of appearances, [a nuclear program and military support] are what they really want. The Saudis’ under-the-table backing for the original Abraham Accords in the face of stiff Palestinian rejection shows us where its priorities lie.

Israel remains alone in countering Iran’s nuclear threat, albeit with Saudi and other Arab countries cheering behind the scenes. This meeting won’t have changed that. We must hope, however, that Netanyahu has been able to persuade Biden of the electoral benefit to him of settling for a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia rather than holding out for the unobtainable jackpot of a two-state solution.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship