A Saudi Scholar Lays the Religious Groundwork for Normalization with Israel

Since the conclusion of the Abraham Accords, there has been speculation that Saudi Arabia—which went to war with the nascent Jewish state in 1948 and since then has not made peace—will be the next Arab country to establish diplomatic relations with Jerusalem. Y. Yehoshua explains a significant step in the kingdom’s internal discussion of the issue:

Saudi Arabia—which is essentially a religious state and regards itself as the leader of the Islamic world—will find it difficult to form official relations with Israel without first establishing the legitimacy of this move from the perspective of the sharia (Islamic law). Moreover, the Abraham Accords, signed with the kingdom’s acquiescence, have already sparked a discussion about the religious legitimacy of normalization. As part of this debate, clerics opposed to the accords stated that normalization with Israel is an act of treason against Allah and against the Prophet Mohammad who fought the Jews.

Should Saudi Arabia decide to raise the level of diplomatic representation with Israel, it will need the religious establishment to back this move and provide jurisprudential sanction for it. . . . An unusual and recent article on the religious legitimacy of diplomatic relations with Israel . . . appeared in the Saudi state daily Al-Jazirah on June 20, 2022. The article, titled “The Fiqh [Jurisprudence] Regarding al-siyasa al-shar’iyya (Sharia-Based Policy) and the State of Israel,” is by Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad al-Yousuf, a senior lecturer on international law at the Imam Mohammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh and the secretary-general of the university’s Supreme Council.

He argues that, in the modern era, there has been a significant change in the perception of the state and in the rules of the game in international relations. According to the new rules, he says, Israel is an existing reality just like any other world country, and a member of the UN. Therefore, it must be treated according to the accepted norms of the international community. Al-Yousuf calls on Saudi clerics to reexamine the sphere of international relations and formulate a new religious perception of [the subject], compatible with these new norms, that will enable the ruler of an Islamic state to employ independent judgement and form ties with Israel if he deems this to be in the interest of his country. He emphasizes that normalization with Israel will allow many Muslims to come and pray in Jerusalem and “rebuild it,” which cannot be done without maintaining ties with Israel.

The article is apparently aimed at providing jurisprudential sanction to a political move of maintaining diplomatic relations with Israel while preserving Saudi Arabia’s religious and theocratic credibility and even bolstering the religious legitimacy of its regime.

At the link below, Yehoshua translates and explicates the article.

Read more at MEMRI

More about: Abraham Accords, Islam, Saudi Arabia

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University