August 9, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 7047

Saudi Writer: Arab States Should Stop Hiding Their Relations With Israel

August 9, 2017
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 7047


In his August 2, 2017 weekly column in the Saudi daily Al-Madina, Muhammad 'Arif criticized Arab countries for maintaining ties with Israel while denying this fact, and called on them to be honest about these relations, because hiding them leads to embarrassment. He condemned these countries' feeble reactions to the closure of the Al-Aqsa mosque to Muslim worshipers (following the July 14, 2017 terror attack that resulted in the death of two Israeli policemen) and their failure to take tangible measures against Israel. He mocked them for banning the American movie Wonder Woman because the lead actress is an Israeli, noting that this is hardly likely to stop Israel from "harming Al-Aqsa," and added that maintaining overt relations with Israel would at least enable these countries to criticize Israel openly.

'Arif's criticism is apparently aimed mainly at Qatar, as part of the ongoing crisis in Saudi-Qatari relations and the mutual accusations in the two countries' media.[1]

Below are selected translated excerpts from his article:[2]

"I remember that many years ago, when Viagra first appeared on the market and men were captivated by it, one of my friends told me [an anecdote]: He and some friends were visiting a neighboring country and saw the blue pill, but each was ashamed to buy it in front of the others, until they [finally] told each other: 'go ahead and buy some, and don't be ashamed of me.' But in spite of this none of them would buy it in front of the others. A short time later, when they met on some social occasion, it emerged that some of them had begun using Viagra, but they still wouldn't admit it openly.

"I recently recalled this story when it became evident to me that some Arab [countries] maintain relations with Israel but deny it, [although] these ties can hardly be denied given the existence of embassies and mutual visits in full view. Those who deny these relations despite their existence are like someone who takes Viagra in secret and does not want anybody to know about it because he fears it will detract from his manliness and wants to remain a macho in the eyes of his neighbors and friends.

"We keep hearing empty slogans and hollow condemnations from [these countries] every time something happens in the occupied territories, such as the recent overt attack on the Al-Aqsa mosque, the defilement of its sanctity, the killing and expulsion of worshipers, and the placement of metal detectors at its gates, and before that the complete closure [of the mosque] for two days, which has not occurred for half a century. Whenever something like this happens we hear feeble condemnations, or else see ridiculous or even laughable measures. [For example], we heard on some satellite channels that an Arab country [Qatar] banned a famous new American movie called Wonder Woman from its cinemas because one of the actresses in it is Israeli. [This is] a real slap in the face to Israel! It will undoubtedly make Israel cease its repressive measures and stop harming the places holy to Islam, first and foremost the Al-Aqsa Mosque. By Allah, how grave the damage caused to the Zionist state by banning this American film starring an Israeli actress! Do these worthless decisions not devalue any meaning of manliness…?"

"When [these Arab countries] do condemn Israel, they do so feebly, because they maintain relations with it, [although] they don't want anybody to know about them… Had [these countries] declared these relations openly, it would have been infinitely better, [because then] they could have at least addressed the enemy and directed criticism and condemnations at it, albeit not [very] seriously… However, since they conceal these relations, none of them dare to threaten [Israel], even for domestic purposes, with the severance or suspension of these relations."


[1] On the crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1315, Uproar In The Gulf Following Alleged Statements By Qatari Emir Condemning Gulf States, Praising Iran, Hizbullah, Muslim Brotherhood And Hamas, May 25, 2017; Special Dispatch no. 6996, The Gulf Crisis As Reflected In Editorial Cartoons, July 6, 2017; Special Dispatch no. 7007, Criticism In Gulf, Egyptian Press: Trump Administration Is Pro-Qatar, July 13, 2017; Special Dispatch no. 6987, Senior Saudi Columnist Voices Unusual Position: Boycott Should Target Qatari Officials, Not Our Brothers The Qatari People, July 3, 2017.

[2] Al-Madina (Saudi Arabia) August 2, 2017.


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