In July 2021, journalist Abdulhameed Al-Ghobain was released from prison in Saudi Arabia, where he served a year after being arrested for openly calling for peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel.  Prior to his arrest, Al-Ghobain was an outspoken supporter of normalization with Israel, and was the first Saudi to publish an opinion piece in an Israeli newspaper.
Following his arrest for incitement, Al-Ghobain's Saudi citizenship was revoked, and he was accused of spying for Israel. He was charged, but not convicted of attempting to obtain Saudi citizenship by deception, smuggling funds, supporting the U.K., and harming Palestinians. Even now, despite his release, Al-Ghobain is prohibited from leave the country, giving interviews, or opening accounts on social media.Sources have suggested that Al-Ghobain was released under pressure from U.S. President Biden.
Abdulhameed Al-Ghobain, source: Twitter @Abdullhameeds
The following are reports and clips of Al-Ghobain from the MEMRI archives:
MEMRI Reports On Abdulhameed Al-Ghobain
On May 5, 2020, MEMRI reported on social media clashes between Saudis and Palestinians on the topic of the Palestinian cause and normalization with Israel. Many Saudis tweeted under the hashtag "Palestine is not my cause" and "the Zionist enemy [is our] brother," accusing the Palestinians of ingratitude towards Saudi Arabia and stating that it's time they took responsibility for their own fate. Abdulhameed Al-Ghobain tweeted a link to a video of an interview he gave to the Russia Today channel, in which he said " the Palestinian cause is dead," and that "there is no such thing as Palestine, whereas Israel is mentioned in the Quran." (MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1510 Saudis, Palestinians Clash On Twitter Over Status Of Palestinian Cause, Normalization With Israel, May 5, 2020)
On January 30, 2020, MEMRI reported on the historic visit of a delegation from the Mecca-based Muslim World League to the Nazi Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp in Poland, and on responses from Saudi and Qatari intellectuals and social media figures, including Abdulhameed Al-Ghobain, who tweeted a link to an interview he gave on "Makan,"an Israeli channel in Arabic, in advance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In the accompanying message, Al-Ghobain he wrote: "The position of the Muslim world and of the Gulf on the massacre which the Nazis perpetrated against the Jews has changed, [and now considers it a] crime unlike any other in all of history. The participation of the Muslim World League in the Berlin Forum [the AJC Global Forum in Berlin in June 2020] is paving the way for a change in perception, not only of the Jews but [also] of Israel, a country with which we must coexist on the basis of peace and the denunciation of hatred." It should be noted that in December 2019, Al-Ghobain confirmed that Saudi authorities had revoked his citizenship, for reasons unclear to him. (MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1500 Muslim World League's Historic Auschwitz Visit Draws Support From Saudi Arabia, Condemnation From Qatar, January 30, 2020)
On July 29, 2019, MEMRI reported on social media responses to attacks by Palestinian children and adults on Muhammad Sa'ud, a Saudi Twitter activist known for his sympathy for Israel and his support for establishing diplomatic relations with it, during his visit to Israel as part of a delegation of Arab journalists. Videos of the incident circulated on social media evoked furious responses from many Saudis, who condemned the attackers and accused the Palestinians of ingratitude towards Saudi Arabia. Abdulhameed Al-Ghobain tweeted his response, calling the Palestinians "the catastrophe of the Arab nation" and writing 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." (MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8201 Saudi Twitter Users Respond To Attack On Pro-Israel Saudi Blogger At Al-Aqsa Mosque: This Is Bullying And Ingratitude; We Are Entitled To Normalize Relations With Israel; Jordan's Custodianship Of Al-Aqsa Should Be Terminated, July 29, 2019)
MEMRI TV Clips On Abdulhameed Al-Ghobain
Saudi Writer Abdulhameed Al-Ghobain: Palestine Was Never An Independent State; The Palestinian Cause Is An Illusion; Arabs, Leaders Use Emotional Slogans That Have Nothing To Do With Reality – May 21, 2020
Saudi writer Abdulhameed Al-Ghobain said in a May 21, 2020 show on Etejah TV (Iraq) that there was never an independent Palestinian state, since the territory had previously been under the authority of the Ottoman Empire, followed by the British. He pointed out that most of the Arab countries were established in the beginning of the 20th century - some as late as the 1970s - and that the Arabs, Arab League, and Palestinians had refused to establish an independent Palestinian state when Israel was established in the late 1940s. In addition, Al-Ghobain said that he has come to the conclusion that the Palestinian cause is an illusion and that it has never been a real and just cause. He also criticized the Arabs and Arab leaders for using emotion-based slogans that have nothing to do with reality.
To view the clip on MEMRI TV, click here or below.
Abdulhameed Al-Ghobain: "What is the meaning of 'occupation'? That's like when the U.S. invaded Iraq. That is considered occupation. But there wasn't a recognized existing Palestinian state. It belonged to the Ottoman occupation, or rather the Ottoman state, and then to the British."
"When were the Arab states really established? It was at the beginning of the previous century. We must admit that some of them weren't established until the 1970's. Israel was established as a state in 1947. There was a call for establishing a Palestinian state. The Palestinians, the Arabs, and even the Arab League refused to recognize that there should be a Palestinian state.
"Maybe if a [Palestinian state] had been established, the situation would be different. So for us to be waiting all these years, destroying our Arab nation, destroying our economies, and not achieving anything, for the sake of an illusion... to tell you the truth, I arrived at the conclusion that this cause has not been a real and just cause at any point in history. If it were a real and just cause, then we would have..."
"First of all, we would know full well that generally speaking, the Arab and Islamic peoples are emotional. They are driven by emotion. You cannot separate this from the reality... When Gamal Abdel Nasser raised the slogans of pan-Arabism and the liberation of Palestine...
"And then Saddam Hussein... It was nothing but slogans, just like the slogans of the [Muslim] Brotherhood today, with all due respect. They are just talking in slogans, emotional words that have nothing to do with reality. When we look at things, we must be realistic."
Saudi Writer Abdulhameed Al-Ghobain: Saudis Care About National Interests, Not About The Palestinian Cause; Our Relations With Israel Are Warm, Have Gone Beyond Normalization – May 10, 2020
In a May 10, 2020 interview on BBC Arabic TV (U.K.) Al-Ghobain said that the Saudi public is well-informed today and that it no longer cares about the Palestinian cause or about Arab interests. Saying that the Palestinians "have lost," Al-Ghobain explained that Saudis care about their national, strategic, and economic interests, and that Saudi Arabia can benefit from establishing relations with Israel because of how advanced Israel is. He added that relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia have gone "beyond normalization" and are now very warm.
To view the clip on MEMRI TV, click here or below.
Abdulhameed Al-Ghobain: "I am talking about public opinion. Today, the public is informed. There is a deluge [of opinions] against the Palestinian cause. It is no longer just public support for normalization and building ties with Israel. [Our] public has turned against the Palestinians in general. Unfortunately, the Palestinians have lost. The Palestinians have not contributed anything. We can say that they are emotional people whose behavior is governed by their feelings.
"If you came to Saudi Arabia and conducted a survey – even among middle school and high school students – they will tell you that not only are they indifferent to the Palestinian cause, but the people in Saudi Arabia no longer care about Arabs as a whole.
"These opinions have been voiced very loudly in Saudi Arabia for the past two years. At first it was said quietly, but now this voice is very loud. People say out in the open that they do not care about the Palestinian cause and about the Arabs in general, and that we must steer our relations in keeping with our interests.
"It is in our strategic interest, and in keeping with our future economic interests, to maintain real relations with Israel. Israel is an advanced country and we can benefit from it. [When] Turkey established relations with Israel, it experienced great progress.
"The Arab League issues statements that are worthless. We should deal with reality. The relations [with Israel] have gone beyond normalization. The relations have become warm. It is no longer just about normalization. The relations have reached a very warm level."