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A Paradigm Shift in Arab-Israeli Relations

The Arab world is warming to Israel, for a variety of reasons

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"Umm Haroun," a Saudi-made television series aired during Ramadan that has sparked controversy by offering a positive depiction of a Jewish community in the Gulf that existed before the creation of Israel.

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In the holy month of Ramadan of 2002, I used to stay up late waiting for a TV show I particularly enjoyed. I was 12 at the time living in our family house, not too far from the Pyramids of Giza. The show was called “A Horseless Knight,” and had an intriguing plot; the Jews of the world conspired for world domination and the destruction of the moral fabric of human civilization, and it was up to one Muslim superhero to stop them.
 
The show featured scenes of Jews congregating in dark basements talking about how they are spreading drugs, prostitution, corruption, communism, and disease. Ramadan’s brand of fantastic antisemitism was not an intrusion in the Arab world, but part of it. Each year the Egyptian and Arab TV offered at least one show about the Jewish and Zionist conspiracy, and the Arab heroism to thwart them. Twelve years later, and after a failed Arab Spring this year, Arab families are offered, for the first time, a show about human Jews who are not agents of politics but victims of it for the first time.
The show is called Umm Haroun, and it is a Saudi-Kuwaiti production. It offers a dramatic plot revolving around the lives of Jews in the Gulf before the mass exodus of Mizrahi Jewry following 1948.

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This show doesn’t come in isolation, but as another episode in a growingly visible dramatic change in the Arab-Israeli relations led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In Gulf and Saudi media outlets, a few Saudi journalists are openly talking about friendship, and even an alliance, with Israel. The UAE soon is going to start admitting Israeli passports. The Saudi governments, historically uncompromising in its refusal to accept Israeli travel documents and forcing Israeli Muslims to obtain Jordanian passports so they may perform the annual Islamic hajj, announced it would start admitted Israeli Muslims with their Israeli travel documents. Official social media accounts in both governments made it a habit wishing Jews happiness of Jewish holidays.

This publicity photo shows a scene from "Umm Haroun," a Saudi-made television series

Perhaps the most significant sign of the occurring shift was the visit of the Secretary-General of the Mecca based Muslim World League, Sheikh Mohamed Al-Issa to Auschwitz last February and leading a prayer of Muslim religious leaders for the souls of all Jews who were exterminated, which he also mentioned to be “6 million.” This is by far the most senior Islamic religious leader and Arab official to visit a concentration camp, and openly recognize the Holocaust and its massive scale. This tremendous step means that Saudi Arabia gave official religious sanction to admitting and discussing the Holocaust contrasting itself with Iran, the current leader of the Holocaust denial transnational campaign in the Muslim world.

Many won’t hesitate in stating the obvious, the current shift of attitudes of Arab governments is motivated by the fear of Iran. This indeed is a significant factor, yet it is not the only one. One doesn’t need to look too deep to notice the growing official Arab frustration and fear of both Shiite and Sunni Islamism. Following a failed Arab Spring in which several Arab states were threatened to be overtaken by Islamist political forces, of which some are still are, the Arab establishment realized that official antisemitism and anti-Zionism had outlived their purpose.
 
Hating Israel no longer serves Arab leaders allowing them to deflect problems, scapegoat, and demand absolute power. Today, the primary beneficiaries of pro-Palestinian mobilization are the very enemies of the Arab state; Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Jihadists. This seemingly growing realization among the new generation of a younger Arab princess, in particular, seems to be the main motivator of the resolve to start a serious paradigm shift in Arab-Israeli relations. Today, Saudi newspapers, Twitter accounts, and media outlets are filled with voices blaming the Palestinian problem, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The reader should be under no illusion that Saudi and Emirati princess can wave a magic wand and end Arab hatred towards Israel and the underlying antisemitism behind it. Following the TV show Umm Haroun, Palestinian activists, aided by Qatari Aljazeera media, launched an anti-Saudi campaign accusing Saudi leadership of Zionism. This Palestinian campaign ultimately will end in nothing but self-defeat. Saudi journalists post the videos of Palestinians hurling insults at Saudi Arabia to show Saudi citizens how ungrateful the Palestinians, are and to vindicate their pro-peace stand.

This effort, while already impressive as it is, is likely to take a long time till it can successfully result in a new Arab generation free of the hatred of the past. Arab governments still are not interested in any significant political reforms, but they are interested in providing some needed social reforms to disarm Islamists from valuable recruitment tools. I do not doubt that the future holds the Middle East with not just a peaceful and prosperous Israel, but also a leading one.

Hussein Aboubakr Mansour was born in Egypt in 1989. He participated in the Arab Spring, moved to the US in 2012, worked as a Hebrew teacher, and currently is a pro-Israel speaker. He just released his debut book, Minority Of One: The Unchaining of an Arab Mind, talking about his journey from antisemitism to compassion. The book can be found on Amazon.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

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Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

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