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May 29, 2018 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

By: Z. Harel*

Among the Saudi intellectuals, journalists and writers who have recently been expressing open support for Israel,[1] the voice of intellectual 'Abd Al-Hamid Al-Hakim was especially prominent. Al-Hakim, until recently the director of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, who visited Israel in July 2016 as part of a Saudi delegation headed by Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Anwar Eshki, [2] expressed complete support for the state of Israel, its right to exist, and its historical right to Jerusalem. He also expressed appreciation for Israel as a developed and democratic country that respects freedom of worship. Stating that Israel is  a buffer against the Iranian hostility in the region, he called to make peace with it, and also to eradicate the culture of hatred for Jews in the Arab world, including by amending school curricula.

The following are some of Al-Hakim's recent statements:


'Abd Al-Hamid Al-Hakim (image: alquds.co.uk)

We Want An Israeli Embassy In Riyadh

In a tweet, Al-Hakim called to open an Israeli embassy in Riyadh and even created a hashtag #we want Israeli embassy in Riyadh," while connecting this issue to the struggle with Iran. He tweeted, "What is the significance of opening an Israeli embassy in Riyadh and a Saudi embassy in Jerusalem? It means announcing the death of the Iranian plan that spread chaos [in the Middle East] via political Shi'ite Islam, and also the death of Sunni political Islam and the creation of a new and better Middle East for the peoples of the region. History will remember that [Saudi Crown Prince] Mohammad Bin Salman was the one who saved the region."[3]


Al-Hakim's tweet about opening an Israeli embassy in Riyadh

Peace With Israel Will Benefit Saudi Arabia, Halt Iran's Aggression

Al-Hakim emphasized the common interests of Israel and the Arab world in light of the Iranian threat, and called to make peace with Israel. In response to the press conference held by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 30, 2018, at which he revealed documents and information that Israel had acquired from the Iranian nuclear archives, Al-Hakim wrote, "Israel acquired details of the nuclear program of Iran, Saudi Arabia's most dangerous enemy. The Saudi citizen [must], at this historic juncture, choose between an alliance with the Turkish plan, which  aims to subjugate [Saudi Arabia] – either in the guise of a caliphate or [under the banner of] nationalism, whose failure has been proven – and peace with Israel so as to contend with [the Saudi citizen's] Iranian enemy and grant his homeland a leading role. The choice of peace with Israel first and foremost serves the interests of his homeland."[4]


Al-Hakim's response to Israel's exposure of the Iranian nuclear archives

In an additional tweet, also published following Netanyahu's press conference, he wrote: "Message to societies in the Gulf: Who stands with us now as one man to confront the Iranian ambitions? Certainly not the weak, unaware Arabs, and certainly not Turkey, which has strategic interests [in common] with Iran and which does not place our issues at the top of its agenda. The one who stands with us and even blocks the Iranian regime's aggression is Israel. Let us establish peace with Israel, for our Gulf is in danger."[5]

Al-Hakim Congratulates Israelis On Their Country's 70th Independence Day, Welcomes Move Of U.S. Embassy To Jerusalem

Conspicuous in Al-Hakim's tweets and other statements is his support for the right of the Jews to the state of Israel and their historic right to Jerusalem, and his appreciation of Israel as a developed and democratic country. In a tweet he posted on April 19, 2018, he even congratulated the people of Israel on their country's 70th independence day: "I congratulate the Israeli public on the occasion of Independence Day and take this opportunity to say to say to the Arab public: the Jews have a historical right to the state of Israel, as proven by the monotheistic scriptures and the history of the region. In 70 years Israel has become a First World country. You will gain nothing by denying their right [to a state] other than weakness and sectarian wars orchestrated by the Iranian regime – your true enemy."[6]


Al-Hakim's tweet greeting Israelis on occasion of Israel's70th Independence Day

In another controversial tweet on May 14, 2018, he congratulated Israel on the opening of the U.S. Embassy in to Jerusalem, a step which garnered condemnation across the Arab world, including from the Saudi establishment. He wrote, "I congratulate the people and the government in the state of Israel on this historic occasion. When I visited Jerusalem, I found a First World city and I observed that Israeli society respects its holy capital and the culture of freedom of worship within it. I thanked God that Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem are all under the management of regimes that respect the sanctity of these cities and have transformed them into some of the most beautiful cities in the world."[7]

In fact, in December 2017, after the American government made the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move its embassy to the city, Al-Hakim responded under the hashtag "Jerusalem the eternal capital of Palestine," writing: "Let us be logical and clarify: Jerusalem is a holy city to the Jews and they have a historical right to it, just as Mecca and Medina are holy to Muslims. It is better that Jerusalem be administered by Israel, which allows Muslims to visit Al-Aqsa, than it be under Arab administration, which will transform it into a floundering Third World city. The achievement of peace and the cessation of bloodshed are more precious to us than stones and territories."[8]

Al-Hakim spoke in a similar vein in a December 15, 2017 interview with the American Arabic-language Alhurra television channel. For a MEMRI TV Clip of this interview, click below:

The Gaza Border Clashes Were Carried Out On Orders From Iran; Hamas, Iran, Turkey Are Responsible For The Bloodshed

Al-Hakim also expresses unreserved support for Israel in matters pertaining to the conflict with the Palestinians, while leveling criticism at Hamas and at the Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by Mahmoud 'Abbas. On April 30, 2018, Al-Hakim responded to a tweet from the spokesperson of the Israeli Foreign Ministry who came out against the PA's glorification of terrorists, writing: "The PA must decide which side it is on: the side of peace or the side of terror. It must confront its people with reality, which is that applauding the dead [terrorists] and their terror means continuing the saga of [Palestinian] suffering and the exploitation of their blood, and that their lives are more precious than a piece of land or the stones of a mosque. [The PA] should announce that it accepts  Trump's decision about Jerusalem and take advantage of it to achieve peace, for if not – the PA and Hamas are [just] two sides of the same coin."[9]

In another tweet, relating to the death of dozens of Palestinians in clashes on the Gaza border on May 14, the day the U.S. Embassy was moved to Jerusalem, Al-Hakim wrote: "The demonstrations in Gaza broke out on orders from Tehran, as a message to the U.S. about the decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement. Erdogan [also] continues to carry out so-called acts of bravery [in the lands of] defeated societies, starting with the [Mavi Marmara] freedom flotilla, continuing with the destruction of societies in the Arab Spring, and culminating in his trading in the blood of Gaza. Turkey and Iran are two sides of the same coin and they bear the responsibility along with Hamas for every drop of blood [spilled] in Gaza."[10] 

The Culture Of Hatred For Jews Must Be Eliminated From The Root

On April 26 Al-Hakim responded to statements made by Dr. Mohammad Al-'Issa, secretary-general of the Saudi-based Muslim World League (MWL), in condemnation of the Holocaust.[11] Al-Hakim tweeted: "Al-'Issa's statement [expressing] sympathy for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and his condemnation of it as a heinous crime against humanity, are a good start [for the campaign] to uproot the culture of hatred for Jews, which is a sanctified Arab culture. The second step should involve the curricula, so as to form societies that believe in the historical right of the Jews in the region and in the culture of peace." [12]

Al-Hakim also responded to the antisemitic motifs in the speech given on April 30 by Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas's at the Palestinian National Council.[13] He wrote: "During my first visit to Israel and the West Bank, I met with President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud 'Abbas], and noted that he was unable to contend with forces in the PA that are opposed to peace. In order to realize its interests and confront Hamas, the PA needs a new Sadat or a courageous leader like [Saudi Crown Prince] Muhammad bin Salman. [US President] Trump's decision on Jerusalem revealed that the PA's decision[-making] is being held hostage by the traders of Hamas, the PA and the Iranian regime."[14]


Al-Hakim's tweet

*Z. Harel is a research fellow at MEMRI.

 

[2] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6574, Articles In Saudi Press: End The Antisemitic Discourse, Learn From The Jews' Success, August 13, 2016.

[3] Twitter.com/hakeem970, May 4, 2018.

[4] Twitter.com/hakeem970, May 1, 2018.

[5] Twitter.com/hakeem970, May 2, 2018.

[6] Twitter.com/hakeem970, April 19, 2018.

[7] Twitter.com/hakeem970, May 14, 2018.

[8] Twitter.com/hakeem970, December 6, 2017.

[9] Twitter.com/hakeem970, April 30, 2018.

[10] Twitter.com/hakeem970, May 15, 2018.

[12] Twitter.com/hakeem970, April 26, 2018.

[13] See MEMRI  Special Dispatch No.7452, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: Holocaust, Massacres Of European Jews Due To Their Function In Society As Usurers; Hitler Struck A Deal With The Jews, May 2, 2018.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: Holocaust, Massacres Of European Jews Due To Their Function In Society As Usurers; Hitler Struck A Deal With The Jews

[14] Twitter.com/hakeem970, May 3, 2018.