On July 22, 2019, Muhammad Sa'ud, a Saudi Twitter activist known for his sympathy for Israel and his support for establishing diplomatic relations with it, visited Israel as part of a delegation of Arab journalists. While touring Jerusalem's Old City and Al-Aqsa, he was attacked by Palestinian children and adults who yelled at him to leave, cursed and pushed him, spat on him and even threw chairs at him. Videos of the incident circulated on social media evoked furious responses from many Saudis, who condemned the attackers, accused the Palestinians of ingratitude towards Saudi Arabia, and directed curses at them, some of them quite harsh. Some also complained that the Palestinians treat Al-Aqsa as their private property, and called to transfer the custodianship over it from Jordan to Saudi Arabia or Israel. One particularly virulent tweet called to expel the Palestinians to Jordan. Many of the responses were tweeted under the hashtags #Muhammad Sa'ud, #We are all Muhammad Sa'ud and #Palestinians attack Jerusalem visitors.
It should be mentioned that, alongside these responses, there were also Twitter users from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states who expressed reservations about Sa'ud's visit to Israel and stressed that he does not represent them or Saudi Arabia. It should also be noted that, in the recent years, more and more Saudi journalists and intellectuals have been openly expressing support for Israel, sympathizing with its policy on Iran, and calling to make peace and normalize relations with it. Conversely, there have also been press articles that rejected relations with Israel and harshly attacked it and its policies.
Palestinian responses to the incident ranged from justification to condemnation. Fatah Revolutionary Council member Hatem 'Abd Al-Qader said that the attack on Muhammad Sa'ud had been spontaneous and that anyone who comes to Jerusalem in that manner will encounter the same reaction. Others claimed that the incident harmed the relations between the Palestinians and their fellow Arabs and played into Israel's hands.
Below are some of the responses to the attack on Saudi blogger Muhammad Sa'ud.
Palestinian throws chair at Sa'ud as he tours Jerusalem's Old City (Source: twitter.com/SuleimanMas1)
Furious Responses Against Palestinians: They Are Barbaric, Depraved And Ungrateful
As stated, many of the Saudi Twitter users expressed rage over the attack on Sa'ud, accused the Palestinians of ingratitude towards Saudi Arabia and of insolence towards it and towards Israel, and directed curses and invective at them. Some also defended Saudi Arabia's right to act towards normalizing relations with Israel, and mentioned previous expressions of Palestinian ingratitude, such as the 2015 incident in which worshippers interrupted an Al-Aqsa preacher who was eulogizing the late Saudi King 'Abdallah with shouts and curses until he was forced to stop speaking.
Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh, a columnist for Saudi Arabia's Al-Jazirah daily, condemned the "foolish and stupid" Palestinians who criticize every manifestation of normalization with Israel. He tweeted on his personal account: "Oh foolish and stupid Palestinians, if you allow yourselves to normalize relations with our despicable Persian enemy [i.e., Iran], why do you deny us the right to normalize [relations] with Israel, which has not fired a single shot at us?" In another tweet he wrote: "The curses, invective and insults that Palestinians occasionally direct at the people of the Gulf; the objection expressed by most of them to the Al-Aqsa preacher who conveyed his condolences [for the death of] King 'Abdallah, and the alliance between the people of Hamas, who pretend to be Muslims, and the Persian enemy – [all these] prompt the overwhelming majority of the people in the Gulf to demand normalization with Israel."
Saudi Twitter user 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Harbi slammed the Palestinians for their hypocrisy, tweeting: "Over 120,000 Palestinians work inside Israel. The number quadrupled in just two years. On Friday they pray at Al-Aqsa, curse King 'Abdallah and burn pictures of [the current Saudi] King Salman, and then on Saturday they go to work in Israel! Barbarity, atrophy and depravity."
Especially vicious invective was directed at the Palestinians by a Saudi Twitter user calling himself "Admirer of the Leader," who wrote: "Tell me of filth and I will say 'Falasteez' [an epithet formed from the words Palestine and teez, meaning backside], tell me of curses and insolence and I will say 'Falasteez' , tell me of selling out the homeland, and I will say 'Falasteez' , tell me of the most loathsome creature in the world, and I will say 'Falasteez', 'Falasteez' and again 'Falasteez.' May Allah curse them and bless you, Muhammad Sa'ud, ambassador of peace."
The post on the "Admirer of the Leader" Twitter page
User Lamia bint 'Abdallah likewise condemned the attack on Muhammad Sa'ud and accused the Palestinians of ingratitude, tweeting: "This is nothing new. Everywhere the Palestinians go, no matter how much the Saudi government and people honor them, they remain indecent and ungrateful. This behavior [towards Muhammad Sa'ud]... reflects the moral depravity of those who don't know [the meaning of] good upbringing."
Criticism Of Palestinians' Appropriation Of Al-Aqsa, Calls To End Jordan's Custodianship Of It
As stated, many users complained that the Palestinians treat Al-Aqsa like their private property and reminded them that it belongs to all Muslims. Sukina Al-Meshekhis, a Saudi journalist and a columnist for the daily Al-Yawm, who resides in Dubai and has often expressed support for normalizing Saudi-Israeli relations, tweeted: "They attacked [Muhammad Sa'ud] and beat him as if the Al-Aqsa mosque were their private property, not a mosque visited by people of all faiths. It was a brutal attack [reflecting] uncivilized and ugly behavior."
Saudi online activist Sou'ad Al-Shammary wrote in a similar vein: "If you think Jerusalem is a problem [that should concern] all Muslims, why do you keep Muslims from visiting it? Say honestly, 'we have a monopoly over it.' Muhammad Sa'ud is a young man who wishes to spread peace and promote the notions of coexistence and acceptance of the other. It's disgraceful, this attitude you boast of, thinking that it makes you [big] heroes, when [in practice] you are just bullies. Shame on you."
Some of the Saudi Twitter users called to transfer the custodianship of the Al-Aqsa compound to Saudi Arabia or Israel, and one even called the Palestinians "the catastrophe of the Arab nation" and said they should be deported to Jordan. Saudi intellectual 'Abd Al-Hamid Al-Hakim, former director of the Jeddah-based Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies, who has also visited Israel and often expresses support for it, tweeted: "This barbarity reinforces my past demand to transfer the management of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem to Saudi Arabia, due to its leading experience in managing holy sites. What happened to Muhammad [Sa'ud] today is a message to every Saudi, that if Jerusalem ever falls into the hands of Hamas, God forbid, the fate of Saudi visitors will be several times [worse] than that of Muhammad, and approving visits [will be up to] Tehran."
In another tweet, Al-Hakim wrote: "What happened to [our] brother Muhammad Sa'ud is the result of the policy of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, who cultivate a culture in which peace is regarded as a crime and anyone who approaches the gates of peace is accused of treason..."
Saudi online activist Muhammad Al-Qahtani, also known as an advocate of normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel, tweeted an image of the Saudi and Israeli flags with by a message calling to transfer the custodianship of Al-Aqsa from Jordan to Israel "so that the depraved and vicious attack on the Saudi citizen Muhammad Sa'ud is not repeated. #We are all Muhammad Sa'ud."
Muhammad Al-Qahtani's tweet
Saudi media figure 'Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ghabin called the Palestinians "the catastrophe of the Arab nation" and wrote that Israel should be encouraged to deport them to Jordan, which is their "true homeland." He tweeted: "I spent many long years defending Palestine and the Palestinians, which cost me dearly on the professional and financial levels. I believed their cause was just. But we have forgotten that they themselves are the catastrophe of our nation, and getting rid of them, in any possible way, would save 500 million Arabs from decay and perdition. We should encourage Israel to deport them to their true homeland, Jordan, for that is where they belong."
Muhammad Saud at the Knesset (Israeli parliament, almodon.com, July 28, 2019)
Fatah Revolutionary Council Member: The Attack On Sa'ud Was A Spontaneous Reaction
Fatah Revolutionary Council member Hatem 'Abd Al-Qader justified the incident, saying: "We warn that anyone who comes to Jerusalem like the Saudi blogger Muhammad Sa'ud did, [and enters the Al-Aqsa compound] by the Mughrabi Gate, through which the [Jewish] settlers enter Al-Aqsa, will be driven out in the same manner... Such people are not welcome in Jerusalem and we cannot guarantee their safety. This is a warning that should be taken into account... Residents of Jerusalem reacted spontaneously yesterday in defense of their city. The solution is for Arabs to enter by the Palestinian gate [i.e., Bab Al-Asbat or the Lions' Gate, which is the main gate used by Muslims headed for the Al-Aqsa compound], and then we will say to them, 'welcome to your homeland, Palestine.'"
Palestinian Columnist: Visits By Arab Journalists In The Occupation State Are Crimes For Which Only They Can Be Held Responsible; We Should Act Wisely And Refrain From Harming Our Relations With Our Fellow Arabs
Palestinian journalist Muwaffaq Matar wrote that Sa'ud's visit to Israel was not an act of normalization but simply a personal crime of betrayal that does not implicate all Saudis, and that the attacks on him cannot be defended as freedom of speech since they harm the Palestinians' relations with their Arab brethren. He wrote in his column in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida:
"Nobody has the right to destroy the ties between the Palestinian people and leadership and the Arab peoples and leaderships on the pretext of exercising freedom of speech, because, as far as we are concerned, [harming] the interests of the [Arab] peoples and of the Palestinian people is a red line that nobody may cross...
"Visits by Arab so-called journalists and media figures in the occupation state [Israel] cannot be regarded as normalization, but as crimes and acts of betrayal for which only they themselves are responsible. Even their families must be exonerated of these actions, which contravene their noble values and positions. The betrayal can be classified according to its level, but it is ultimately a national [act by an] individual, for the perpetrator is a citizen of an Arab state which still regards ties with the occupation state, Israel – on the official or the popular level – as a crime. Our Saudi brothers do not need anyone's endorsement as proof of their firm positions on the Palestinian cause and their support for our Palestinian people. Nor do we have to renounce occasional angry and unobjective reactions by Palestinians in some place or other against a man who seems to be publically announcing his pride in the racist occupation state, Israel...
"National responsibility requires vigilance and caution, so as to prevent our detractors from taking advantage of fanatic nationalism that characterizes some people among us and among the Arab communities who may lose their temper or be incited by emotional and imprudent rhetoric by someone somewhere, [rhetoric] that spreads like wildfire in the media that has turned the world into a small village. Those who wish to divide and fragment us, and to sow conflict between us, are very clever and know how to use [these] reactions [to instigate] an explosion that will harm us and our Arab brethren, and I am convinced that the greatest loss will ultimately be ours, considering that there are Palestinian communities [in Arab countries] that may be harmed and may be the first victims [of this explosion].
"We will not supply the regime in Tel Aviv with an opportunity to sever us from our Arab strategic depth, nor will we supply those who wish us ill with an opportunity to entrap us, for we have great wisdom that allows us to handle matters according to their real context and dimensions. So if some person or other has chosen betrayal as a way of life, then we have chosen national loyalty and wisdom – which we believe [also] exists among the other Arab peoples and [throughout] the world – as the path towards the victory of our cause and of our rights."
Palestinian Blogger: Since When Does Al-Aqsa Belong To The Residents Of Jerusalem? Since When Do Palestinians Behave So Barbarically?
Harsher criticism of the attackers was voiced by Palestinian blogger Nadia Harhash, who wrote: "The attack on the Saudi who turned out to be part of a delegation of Arab journalists visiting Israel served only the Israeli propaganda, which for years has been spreading [claims] about the Palestinians' aggressiveness and brutality when what the [Palestinians] are doing is not [something that could be called] terror. Those [who attacked the Saudi blogger] presented Netanyahu and all the servants of the Zionist agendas with a campaign on a silver platter, [a campaign] which they will use against us for many years to come. An Arab man, dressed in clearly authentic Arab clothing, is attacked while trying or wishing to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque!
"The identity of the man is immaterial, and his sympathy for Israel, or the photos that were published in which he is seen in the Knesset with an Israeli flag behind him, are unimportant. The important point is the [material] we provided him, his followers and his Arab supporters for propaganda that will confirm the reasons for his sympathy for Israel and its democracy, which prompted him to visit it [in the first place]. We also [supplied him] with reasons to hate... the Palestinians who repaid this Arab visitor with such barbarity.
"Don't we Palestinians always beg the Arabs [to help us by] evoking Jerusalem? Don't we link our history to this city by citing its Islamic [identity] and the sanctity of the Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey [from Mecca to Jerusalem]?... Is Jerusalem not an Islamic waqf [Islamic endowment]? Since when does Al-Aqsa belong to the residents of Jerusalem? Since when do the people of Palestine behave so barbarically? We are the [peaceful] people who shook the hand that killed us after the Oslo Accords, and who turned our foe into a friend by signing a [document of] mutual understandings that wasn't [even] an agreement!
"Today [July 23, 2018], the [Palestinian] pilgrims set out for Saudi Arabia in order to fulfil the commandment of pilgrimage [to Mecca]. Don't these rioters, and the people who supported cursing this man in Arab garb, realize this could affect the Palestinian pilgrims, or the Palestinians living in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf? Have we not learned a lesson from Kuwait? Don't the Palestinians in the diaspora have enough [to deal with in terms of] intimidation and threats to their livelihood? Don't we see what is happening in Lebanon?"
Link to Nadia Harhash's blog post on her Twitter page (Twitter.com/nadiaharhash, Ju;y 23, 2019)
 For prominent expressions of support for Israel in the Saudi media, see MEMRI reports: Inquiry & Analysis No. 1398, Shift In Saudi Media's Attitude To Israel – Part I: Saudi Writers, Intellectuals: Iran Is More Dangerous Than Israel; Peace With It Is Vital In Order To Repel Iranian Threat, May 29, 2018; Inquiry & Analysis No.1399, Shift In Saudi Media's Attitude To Israel – Part II: Saudi Writer Who Visited Israel: We Want An Israeli Embassy In Riyadh; We Should Make Peace With Israel, Uproot Culture Of Hatred For Jews, May 29, 2018; Special Dispatch No. 7573, Saudi Journalist: We Must Advance Peace With Israel, Even If We Have To Make Concessions, July 18, 2018; Special Dispatch No. 6951, Saudi Columnist: Iran Is The Real Enemy, Not Israel, June 6, 2017; Special Dispatch No.6574, Articles In Saudi Press: End The Antisemitic Discourse, Learn From The Jews' Success, August 13, 2016. For prominent anti-Israel expressions recently published in the Saudi press, see e.g., Special Dispatch No. 8091, Saudi Writers: Israel Is Destined To Disappear; Accepting It Is Treason Against Ourselves, May 28, 2019.
 Twitter.com/alshaikhmhmd, July 22, 2019.
 Twitter.com/RHMN_H, July 22, 2019.
 Twitter.com/3asheqAlza3eem, July 22, 2019.
 Twitter.com/Lamia14337153, July 22, 2019.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7573, Saudi Journalist: We Must Advance Peace With Israel, Even If We Have To Make Concessions, July 18, 2018; Special Dispatch No. 8125, Saudi Twitter Poll Finds 33% In Favor Of Relations With Israel, Versus 47% Against, June 18, 2019.
 Twitter.com/sukinamesheikhis, July 22, 2019.
 Twitter.com/SouadAlshammary, July 23, 2019.
 See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1399, Shift In Saudi Media's Attitude To Israel – Part II: Saudi Writer Who Visited Israel: We Want An Israeli Embassy In Riyadh; We Should Make Peace With Israel, Uproot Culture Of Hatred For Jews, May 29, 2018.
 Twitter.com/hakeem970, July 23, 2019.
 Twitter.com/hakeem970, July 23, 2019.
 Twitter.com/Al_qm2014, July 22, 2019.
 Twitter.com/Al_com/Abdullhameeds, July 22, 2019.
 Alwatanvoice.com, July 25, 2019.
 Apparently a reference to the Palestinians' support of Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, a position which is resented by Kuwaitis and other Gulf Arabs to this day.
 Nadiaharhash.com, July 23, 2019.