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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/13/20

Saudi Arabia is normalizing relations with Israel?

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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A drama series telecast on the Saudi-controlled MBC during the holy month of Ramadan is being seen as a clear signal from Saudi Arabia about its growing ties with Israel, the Brussels Times said Tuesday.

The TV series, 'Umm Haroun' (mother of Aaron), begins with a long monologue in Hebrew, in which a Jewish character says "we are the Gulf Jews who were born in the Gulf lands."

Saudi TV drama'aims to normalise relations with Israel'
(Image by YouTube, Channel: MEMO)
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Although Saudi-Israeli, behind-the-scene parleys, have been an open secret for long, since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, popularly known as MbS, took over as the de facto ruler the warming of ties between two bitter enemies of Iran has become quite obvious, according to the paper.

The first clear sign of rapprochement came when in 2018 in an interview to the US magazine The Atlantic, MbS said that Israelis are entitled to live peacefully on their own land, a complete U-turn from the stated Saudi policy that normalisation of relations hinges on an Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war - territory Palestinians seek for a future state, the Brussels Times said.

Haaretz commentator Zvi Bar'el

Haaretz, commentator Zvi Bar'el was quoted by the Brussels Times as saying, Saudi Arabia has emerged as Israel's 'dream state'. He says Israel has no better ally than Saudi Arabia. It fights Hezbollah and overthrew the Lebanese prime minister who had lived in peace with that organization for a year.

Bar'el further says it seems as if Saudi Arabia would be happy to have Israel join the "Sunni axis". He says to be part of this new alliance, Israel may have to make some concession and does not see any harm in reviving the Saudi peace initiative, which calls for Arab normalization with Israel in return for withdrawing from the occupied Palestinian territories.

A quiet revolution is changing the Middle East

A revolution is taking place in the Arab world that is quietly moving the Middle East's tectonic plates in ways no one ever thought possible, Ronald S. Lauder, is president of the World Jewish Congress, said in an article published by the Saudi newspaper, Arab News in May last.

The old broadside attacks against Israelis by almost all Arab countries have quietly dissipated and the evidence is as clear as the nightly television entertainment shows that people are watching, Lauder said adding:

"The Saudi satellite network MBC has challenged old taboos with a surprisingly positive depiction of Jews. "Um Haroun" is a fictionalized recounting of a Bahraini-Jewish woman who played a significant role in developing Bahraini midwifery. The series is set in an unnamed Arabian Gulf town in the 1940s, and it shows how Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together as one community in relative harmony.

"The show appears on Saudi television, and production involves Emiratis and Bahrainis. One of the consultants is a politician as well as the representative of the Bahraini Jewish community at the World Jewish Congress. This reality embodies huge progress and change on an international scale.

"One of the most popular references we heard were the times described in "Um Haroun," when Muslims and Jews lived together as neighbors and friends. It's amazing that a TV show has led to a constructive dialogue and bridge building."

In February, King Salman stated that it was a religious duty for Islam's adherents and Jewish people to know one another and cooperate for the good of society. This Ramadan, through "Um Haroun," we see that the region is looking back to a neighborly era, a time when Jews were friends, not foes. This reality embodies amazing progress and change, the World Jewish Congress president concluded.

Historic perspective of Jewish-Muslim relations

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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