Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Saudis Warming to Israel

A media campaign in Saudi Arabia is seeking to combat anti-Semitism in the kingdom, apparently in an effort to prepare public opinion for deepened relations with Israel.
Ehud Ya'ari, a senior analyst at Israel's Channel 2 TV, read out examples of recent articles by Saudi columnists demonstrating a shift in attitude towards the Jewish state and Jews in general.
(Times of Israel)


Israel and the Alliance of the Imperiled - Ethan Seletsky

As neighboring nations face the increasingly rabid Islamic State, the security tactics and expertise of Israel are extremely valuable international commodities. Israel, in turn, could gain a large amount of international favor and begrudging cooperation from nations that have historically been enemies to the Jewish state by acting as a teacher and security expert.

Israel has already used military aid as a tool for foreign relations, particularly in Africa and Latin America. This allowed Israel to build relationships outside of the hostile Middle East.

Israel is now poised to make new allies in the region to unify against the common enemy of Islamic fundamentalism. Israeli intelligence, technology, and expertise have already proven themselves in the war against Islamic extremism.

Egypt and Israel combat Islamic State affiliates in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel is already working with Jordan against Levantine Islamic State threats. As a result, relations between the three nations have improved, in what has been described as a "unity of the threatened."

The Saudis and the Turks, who have seen a dramatic increase in Islamic State attacks, are in prime position to join this alliance of the imperiled. In the wake of Iran, which stands upon the threshold of nuclear capabilities, this alliance of the imperiled is all the more vital for the future of peace in the Middle East.

This is an opportunity for Israel to rebuke its critics and demonstrate its ability to cooperate and seek out peace. It is one thing to be secure against one's rivals; it is quite another to be something they need.

Of course, some nations will decline this opportunity. The French have stubbornly refused to utilize Israeli technology in the past for fear of negative publicity. As terror threats proliferate in the years to come, however, the price of such obstinacy will be far too high.
[The Jewish Advocate]

The New Normal: Arab Debate over Israel Ties - David Pollock

  • At the security and intelligence levels, direct contacts between Israeli and Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian, and other Arab officials have become so frequent and mutually useful as to be routine.
  • What is noteworthy today is that the issue of dialogue with Israel is being actively and openly debated in major Arab media. Some Egyptian writers and academics most critical of ties to Israel acknowledge that the younger generation, turned against Iran, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood by their own government, is losing some of its animosity toward their Israeli neighbors.
  • While Arab publics overwhelmingly dislike Israel (and Jews), solid majorities in most recent surveys, on the order of 60%, nevertheless voice support for a "two-state solution," which implies peace with the Jewish state.
  • In the past two years, polls in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and the UAE show that "the Arab street" is much more concerned about the conflicts with Iran, Assad, and ISIS than about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • The conclusion is clear: today a broader regional approach to Arab-Israeli peacemaking, rather than a strictly bilateral Israeli-Palestinian one, offers somewhat better prospects of success.
  • For an increasing number of Arabs, Israel may not be a friend, but could become a partner.
    The writer is a fellow at The Washington Institute and director of the Fikra Forum to support Arab democrats.
  • (Fikra Forum-Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    Saudi Media Soften Hostility toward Israel - Michael Wilner and Herb Keinon

    Saudi state-run media appear to be softening their reporting on Israel, running unprecedented columns floating the prospect of direct relations, quoting Israeli officials, and running fewer negative stories on Israel's relationship with the Palestinians. One column called for Saudis to "leave behind" their "hatred of Jews," and another said that talks between the two nations should be direct, based on Saudi national interests.

    Saudi conservative Islamists view Iran, the Shi'ites and Hizbullah as "much worse than the Jews," noted David Pollock of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 
    (Jerusalem Post)

    Israeli National Security Strategy - Moshe Yaalon

    The Sunni Arab camp comprises Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE, and others. Israel shares several common adversaries with this camp.

    The U.S. should join Israel in publicly aligning with the Sunni Arab camp

    These states are not asking the U.S. to deploy ground troops to the region - they just want Washington to be more engaged by supporting partners on the ground with airstrikes and intelligence and making their alliances known more openly.
    (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

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