When footage showing Israeli forces storming Islam’s third holiest site – al Aqsa Mosque – beamed into living rooms and social media accounts throughout the Middle East, a sense of impending doom fell upon Arab governments. Specifically, those that promised the normalization of relations with Israel would put an end to Palestinian humiliation and suffering.
This lie was repeated as recently as last month, when Jared Kushner, the architect of Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that “new, friendly relations are flowering…we are witnessing the last vestiges of what has been known as the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
That lie has now been exposed.
The Israeli military’s ongoing military offensive against Gaza already claimed more than 212 lives, including 61 children and 35 women, with 1,305 injured.
The ethnic cleansing of Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem prompted a spike in attacks by settlers and Jewish lynch mobs in the West Bank and Israel. The Israeli military’s ongoing military offensive against Gaza already claimed more than 212 lives, including 61 children and 35 women, with 1,305 injured. All of which has exposed the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – and Saudi Arabia – which pulled the strings for these so-called “peace deals,” for the moral frauds they are.
Rather than bring peace, their normalization of Israel’s system of apartheid and colonial rule, and the instruments of terror used to enforce both, have served only to provide the Netanyahu government an assurance it can do whatever it wants to whomever it wants and wherever it wants. Now the citizens of these Arab countries are seeing this scam unravel before their own eyes, as the escalation of violence against the Palestinians in Israel and Gaza dominates television and press coverage throughout the Middle East.
The hashtags “#GazaUnderAttack,” “#GazaGenocide,” and “#SaveSheikhJarrah” are dominating social media platforms in the Arab and Muslim world. In post after post, you find users lashing out against Arab governments and accusing them of establishing close relations with Israel to consolidate their power and advance their self-interests.
The hashtags “#GazaUnderAttack,” “#GazaGenocide,” and “#SaveSheikhJarrah” are dominating social media platforms in the Arab and Muslim world.
Jordanian newspaper Al-Dustour says Arab governments are now faced with a “serious dilemma” – unsure whether to pontificate their Arab-Muslim identity or continue normalization with Israel, as reported by BBC News. Algeria’s Echorouk interpreted the escalation of violence to reveal “the limitations and delusion of the normalizers.”
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Unsurprisingly, these Arab governments have offered only tepid condemnation and measured statements towards Israel’s ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem, attacks on al-Aqsa Mosque, and bombing raids on civilian targets in Gaza, saying only that Israeli violence and criminality “violates the resolutions of international legitimacy, and undermines the chances of resuming the peace process to achieve security and stability in the region.”
It’s important to understand that whatever condemnations of Israeli aggression these governments have made are not made with an Israeli government audience in mind, but rather that of their restive populations.
The UAE, for example, has remained largely silent, outside of calling on Israeli authorities to “assume their responsibilities.” Yet the way in which Emirati social media influencers – specifically those with direct ties to the UAE government – are using their accounts to defend Israel and level false accusations of “terrorism” towards the Palestinians reveals Abu Dhabi’s true feelings towards the conflict. That being it just doesn’t care!
The UAE has remained largely silent, outside of calling on Israeli authorities to “assume their responsibilities.”
“Most analysts expected that Abu Dhabi would continue to turn a blind eye to Palestinian suffering, but it still came as a surprise that the Emiratis would go so far as to jump on Israel’s hasbara bandwagon, twisting, selecting and reframing facts to serve Israel’s cause at the expense of Palestinians,” observes Andreas Krieg for Middle East Eye. Hasbara refers to public relations efforts to disseminate positive information about Israel around the globe.
Cinzia Bianco, a Visiting Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said in a recent interview that while the UAE “remains alert to the sentiment of the Arab street, which is profoundly moved by the escalation against Palestinians,” it does not let it dictate its politics in the region, particularly towards Israel.
“The UAE’s interests vis-a-vis relations with Israel are strategic rather than tactical,” she said. “This means it is unlikely that the process of normalization will be reversed, but it is quite likely instead that progress on several ongoing joint projects will be frozen for as long as clashes remain in an acute phase.”
In the meantime, Arab rivals Turkey and Iran are seeking to score a major geopolitical win by using their state-controlled media outlets to remind their viewers that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain are close allies of the Netanyahu government while showing footage of mosque raids, Gaza bombardment, and settler attacks. Thus, putting further distance between Arab governments and the Arab people.
Pressure on the UAE is also coming from regional security experts, even Emiratis with close ties to the government, who contend that Abu Dhabi “holds the key” to de-escalation in Israel and Gaza.
Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of Political Science at the UAE University, said in an interview that Israel’s use of force against the Palestinians is disproportionate. “We can see how the UAE and other Arab nations will leverage their new friendship to de-escalate the situation. It’s the biggest test for the Abraham Accords on whether it can put the Israeli aggression on a leash,” Abdulla stated.
He also accused the Israeli government of having gone too far with its “land grabbing” and violations of Palestinian human rights, as guaranteed by international law.
“They have the right to resist and self-defend. It’s the universal right of any people who are living under occupation,” he said.
Ultimately, however, the UAE and other Arab governments will continue to issue statements of condemnation towards Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity, but these comments are meant only to placate their own frustrated populations, not the Israeli government.
These Arab regimes had gambled on their populations no longer caring about the Palestinian political issue. The weight of evidence emanating from the Arab street and social media platforms, though, suggests they have gambled wrong.