The crash of the Israeli "Beresheet" robotic lunar lander and lunar probe as it attempted to land on the moon's surface prompted many reactions in the Arab world, especially on social media. Some of the responses expressed glee at the crash, or even said that Allah had "wreaked vengeance" on Israel. Conversely, other Arab journalists and social media users criticized these reactions, contrasting Israel's scientific achievements with the Arabs' backwardness.
This report reviews some of the reactions:
Glee Over The Lander's Crash: Israel Failed Again; Even The Moon Refuses To Normalize Relations With It
As stated, one of the dominant reactions to the crash of the lunar lander was a sense of satisfaction. For example, an April 12, 2019 article on the Saudi website Al-Balad News stated that the crash joins a long series of Israeli failures, which also includes the failure of the Iron Dome and Arrow missile defense systems. It added: "Israel constantly spreads [claims] about imaginary successes that supposedly demonstrate its technological superiority in the region. It has even gone so far as to describe itself as a global superpower. But the reality on the ground has embarrassed Israel, which has become accustomed to spreading lies, exaggerations and inflated claims, and has refuted the lie of its scientific and technological superiority. Its latest absurd fantasy involved the launching of the first Israeli spacecraft. After Israel boasted of its ability to launch the first Israel-made spacecraft to the moon and set an unprecedented record, and glorified the Israeli capabilities, the report that the craft had crashed before it could [land] on the moon came as a shock to the occupation and embarrassed it, exposing its false propaganda..."
Expressions of glee were also posted on social media. For example, "Mu'taz Abu Rida" tweeted: "True, the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet was launched at the moon and waved the Israeli flag on it, but our God is great." "Kassimo mimo," from Algeria, tweeted: "Even the moon rejected normalization with the criminals... Israel is filth." Likewise, Palestinian cartoonist Suhaib Mansour posted a cartoon on his Facebook page showing an annoyed moon removing the Israeli lunar lander.
Cartoon by Palestinian cartoonist Suhaib Mansour: Moon rejects Beresheet. Facebook.com/suhaibzaid1979, April 12, 2019.
There were also bizarre reactions, like that of former Syrian MP Ahmad Shalash, who hinted that Syrian intelligence had caused the spacecraft to crash, apparently in retaliation for the airstrikes in Syria that are attributed to Israel. He wrote on his Facebook page: "An Israeli spacecraft has crashed on the moon. We have said previously that the operations of the Syrian intelligence [apparatuses] would surprise everyone and that the arena of conflict is unlimited. I do not want to say anything more explicit."
Ahmad Shalash's post
Criticism Of The Arab Schadenfreude: The Lander's Crash Exposes The Arab Failure As Well
Conversely, other Arabs on social media contrasted Israel's achievement with the Arabs' scientific backwardness. A post by Iraqi user Sajjad Al-'Omari on the day before the crash showed a picture of a rusty old tractor alongside a picture of the Israeli moon lander, and commented: "Ignore the tractor and look at the Israeli spacecraft. The Israeli Beresheet spacecraft that will land on the moon tomorrow and plant an Israeli flag on it will make Israel the fourth country to reach the moon. We must awaken from our long slumber, before it is too late."
Sajjad Al-'Omari's post
Other Arab users criticized the schadenfreude and called to stop it, stating that the Arabs had nothing to be joyful about since they themselves had accomplished nothing even approaching Israel's scientific achievements. "Mulai Ashrif" tweeted: "...Although we will treat [Israel] as an enemy to the death, why the glee over the [crash of the] Israeli spacecraft[?] Instead, we should be laughing at ourselves. An entity established 70 years ago makes its first foray into space, while our [achievement] in thousands of years is holding a contest for the biggest pizza in the world."
Several Arab journalists likewise criticized the Arab schadenfreude, which they said exposed the poor scientific efforts of the Arabs who are mired in the past and live in illusions and dreams, as Israel continues to develop its capabilities.
Egyptian Writer: The Crash Of The Israeli Spacecraft Exposes The Failure Of The Arabs, Who Do Not Invest In Science And In The Future
In his April 14, 2019 column in the Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', titled "Israel Failed, But So Have the Arabs," Ahmad Ibrahim Al-Sharif stated that the glee over the Israeli lunar lander's crash on the moon exposes the failure of the Arabs, who are investing nothing in science or in the future even though they have the means to do so. He wrote:
"The Israeli spacecraft Beresheet did not manage to land on the moon... This crash sparked a kind of joy in the hearts of the Arabs that cannot be condemned or disparaged. But it also exposes the fact that the Arabs have failed; they are mere observers in the broad field of science...
"No Arab country engages in concrete scientific activity on an international level, even though several have many material capabilities that allow them to do so. We [Arabs] have only a few people who succeed in a foreign environment far away from us, and we are proud of them, but the thought that such a thing would happen in an Arab country is not on the agenda.
"Did you know that the Israeli space mission cost them [the Israelis] $100 million? [But] this sum pales in comparison to the fame they have won since they announced the space launch – and how much they would have won had the experiment succeeded. Since they know this, they have announced that they will launch another spacecraft in three years. This makes us wonder: In those three years, will an Arab country create and present something scientific that will set the world talking? Or will everyone will settle for praying that the new Israeli venture will fail, so we can sit with an idiotic half-smile on our faces, as if space were our own personal property[?]
"Universities in the developed countries are preoccupied with how much research and how many theories they produce. At the same time, the Arabs know nothing about scientific papers and are not thinking about the near or distant future – but are chasing their past... and the fame of their forefathers, without devoting a thought to [their] descendants and their [descendants'] dreams.
"Indeed, the issue is greater than Israel and its spacecraft; the scientists of the world struggle to come up with hypotheses and theories and allow their minds to agree and disagree [with each other] – while we have not yet weaned ourselves from emotional thought, even when it comes to dealing with the dangers that we face. Thus, Israel and other countries will go [even] farther than the moon, while we will continue [our preoccupation] with the virgins of Paradise."
Jordanian Writer: Schadenfreude Is Not Enough To Confront Israel; We Need An Arab Scientific Awakening
Likewise, Jordanian journalist Maher Abu Tair underlined, on April 13, 2019 in the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad, that even though the Arabs themselves have no scientific achievements, they are overjoyed at the crash of the Israeli lunar lander. But what, he asked, will those who see it as divine punishment for Israel say when the next Israeli launch succeeds? He added that even if hating Israel is understandable, the Arabs need more than schadenfreude to tackle its military and technological supremacy: they need a conceptual and scientific awakening. He wrote:
"Millions of gleeful reactions flowed on social media in Arabic following the crash landing of the Israeli occupation's spacecraft. Schadenfreude is a manifestation of a condition that should be analyzed, because [usually] those who express it are stronger [than their failed rival], or [in this case would] have scientific achievements like those of the occupation, or at least rival it [in this field]. But we, unfortunately, mobilize this miserable mentality, finding nothing but schadenfreude over the great damage [ostensibly] caused to the occupation...
"[Let us] read the most common reactions: Some said that Allah has wreaked vengeance on them [the Israelis], or that the moon loathes them; others wrote that they spent the time before the spacecraft's landing attempt praying to Allah that it would crash. Another group wrote that this [moon] launch was simply a lie... I believe in Allah, like everyone else, but with regard to these reactions, we must think logically.
"Why would Allah wreak vengeance on a spacecraft's landing? Likewise, we know for certain that the occupation will launch another [lunar lander], and may succeed this time. What will we say then? Will we say that Allah's vengeance comes only the first time, but not the second?...
"Indeed, Allah announced to us, in his promise, the [coming] end of the occupation... But how will we expel the occupation without a moral and conceptual infrastructure, and when we are scientifically bankrupt in all areas? No one can deny that there is such a thing as divine assistance, but at the same time, it appears [only] at times when this ummah is ready in all areas. This is a condition that does not exist now; maybe it will exist in the future, Allah willing.
"The occupation has not built its entity with words, slogans, and wishes. We all know that the occupation excels in many areas, including the military and technological areas and others as well – while we bemoan our fate, engage in conflicts and wars, and harbor illusions and [false] dreams. Had despair not spread in people's hearts, I would say much more about the Arab and Muslim situation, which by all criteria is considered poor...
"Schadenfreude is not enough to tackle the dangerous occupation. The might of this hatred for Israel is understandable, and attests to the fact that the peoples understand that it is their enemy. But in all honesty, we must remember that [Israeli] satellites are orbiting above our heads, night and day, and there has been no [divine] vengeance against them...
"Expelling the occupation requires a complete awakening, both conceptual and scientific. Israel will cease to exist one of these days, but this will certainly not be brought about by means of words or reactions [on social media], nor by peoples that lie around and take no action, yet expect salvation to come from some undefined place."