A Bahraini man chats with an Israeli at Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda outdoor market, October 2021. Photo by Josh Hasten.
by Melanie Phillips
(JNS) — While Western liberals and the U.N. Human Rights Council double down in their determination to demonize, delegitimize and destroy Israel, support for that beleaguered country is coming from a surprising direction.
In 2020, people were startled by the Abraham Accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Hope was kindled that this unprecedented linkage might herald an end to the century-old Arab war against the Jewish state.
Now there are signs of a new and related phenomenon: the emergence of Arab Zionists.
In the Jewish Chronicle, Jonathan Sacerdoti has reported that a number of Arab influencers, with hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, have emerged to promote Israel and support the Jews.
A Syrian blogger began a video begging the Israeli government to “occupy” the whole of Syria to save more lives. “The Golan Heights is the only area in Syria that hasn’t been destroyed and had its people killed,” he said.
In another video, an Arab academic was moved to tears by visiting Jerusalem’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, promising: “Today, together, Muslims Jews and Christians, we promise you, it will never happen again.”
In Dubai, 39-year-old Loay Al-Shareef, who declares he is a Zionist, said: “It’s very righteous for the Jews to have their ancestral homeland in the land of Israel.”
Making frequent references to Jewish scripture, he added: “Jews are not colonialists or conquerors in the land of Israel because if we would believe that then we would believe that David, Solomon, Isaiah and Yirmiyahu and the prophets were actually colonizers, and that would kill the Islamic faith.”
It appears that something hitherto suppressed in Arab society has now been unlocked. The accords have liberated Gulf Arabs to declare their support for Israel and the Jews, thereby openly acknowledging certain truths and realities instead of the lies that their society has told itself for so long.
So how deeply does this development go?
To a large extent, it’s the result of a revolt against the religious extremism that the Arabs themselves exported to the rest of the Islamic world.
This extremism developed after World War I. When world leaders carved up the Middle East following that war and the related collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Arab Muslims originally supported the return of the Jews to their ancestral home in Palestine.
In 1918, Sherif Hussein, the guardian of the Islamic Holy Places in Arabia, referred to the Jewish people as Palestine’s “original sons” returning to their “sacred and beloved homeland.”
This support, however, was transformed into murderous enmity by the rise of Islamism — extremist political Islam. This arose in the early years of the last century as another result of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, which had hitherto held political Islam in check.
The godfather of Islamism was the Egyptian Sayed Qutb, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, who drew with fanatical literal-mindedness upon Islamic religious texts and their theological enmity towards the Jews. In his 1950 diatribe Our Struggle With the Jews, Qutb declared that the Jews were the adversary of God, conspiring to penetrate governments all over the world to “perpetuate their evil designs” including a plan to take control of all the “wealth of mankind.”
According to the scholar of Islam Robert Wistrich, Qutb’s invective turned anti-Semitism into the marker of Islamist movements. Throughout mainstream Muslim society, it made the Jews into a metaphor for Western domination, immorality and a threat to the integrity of Islam.
Islamism was imported by the British into Mandate Palestine in the 1920s and 1930s in the person of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. His virulent anti-Semitism merged Islamic theological enmity towards the Jews with Nazi racial Jew-hatred.
Now, however, led by the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (“MBS”), the Gulf states are turning away from Islamism as a losers’ charter.
Islamists view modernity as the lethal enemy of Islam and believe that behind modernity are the Jews. To MBS, by contrast, the Arabs must embrace modernity because the Islamist alternative will return them to tribal desert primitivism. And Israel is the key to modernity, as well as to protection against their common Shia Islamist foe in Tehran.
Of course, it’s important to keep all this in perspective. These reformist Arab voices are still few in number. MBS has many enemies who seek his literal demise.
In Britain and Europe, Muslim communities are disproportionately involved in attacks on Jews. And while many Muslims shun political Islam, their theology remains imbued with hatred of the Jews and the call to jihad, holy war against them.
Nevertheless, these open expressions of Arab friendship towards Israel indicate a significant movement of the geopolitical tectonic plates. For the “Palestinians” are now being abandoned by their erstwhile Arab allies.
Palestinianism is imbued with Islamism. This doesn’t just apply to Hamas, whose charter channels Qutb and holds the Jews responsible for all the ills of the world. It also applies to the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority, whose leader Mahmoud Abbas openly venerates the Islamist al-Husseini, who was Hitler’s ally in the Middle East and committed to a “Final Solution” of the Jews throughout the region.
Yet despite these baleful facts, the West persists in its implacable belief that Israel is the problem.
It’s no coincidence that this mind-twisting inversion of truth and lies is redolent of Communist brain-washing. For the Soviet Union used the Palestinian cause to subvert the West’s grasp of reason and knock it off its moral compass.
In an article for Gatestone, Richard Kemp recounts how Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the head of Romania’s foreign intelligence service who became the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to defect from the Soviet sphere, provided details of KGB operations against Israel.
Pacepa says the chairman of the KGB, Yuri Andropov, told him: “We needed to instill a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world, and to turn this weapon of the emotions into a terrorist bloodbath against Israel and its main supporter, the United States.”
Moscow had understood how it could weaponize the “Palestinians” against the West. Andropov told Pacepa: “Islam was obsessed with preventing the infidels’ occupation of its territory, and it would be highly receptive to our characterization of the U.S. Congress as a rapacious Zionist body aiming to turn the world into a Jewish fiefdom.”
To achieve its objectives, the Kremlin devised Operation SIG, a disinformation campaign intended “to turn the whole Islamic world against Israel and the U.S.”
But it also needed to target the West itself. It did this by transforming the Arab war of extermination against the Jewish state into something the West would support: a campaign for self-determination by the oppressed.
So in the 1960s, in cahoots with Yasser Arafat — the Egyptian-born leader of the terrorist Palestinian Liberation Organization — it created a fictitious Palestinian Arab identity. As Arafat said: “The Palestinian people have no national identity. I, Yasser Arafat, man of destiny, will give them that identity through conflict with Israel.”
The culturally demoralized West — surely, the Soviet Union’s most spectacular clutch of “useful idiots” — has been totally taken in by all this.
As an increasing number of Arabs realize that Israel is not their enemy but their indispensable ally, the Palestinians’ last remaining hope is the West’s obsessive animus against Israel and the Jews.
The war of extermination against Israel is the unfinished business of both Nazism and communism. Yet Western Israel-bashers can’t see how Islamism has fused both these murderous systems in an onslaught not just against Israel but against the West itself.
While the Arab world increasingly turns its face towards survival and the Jewish people, the West remains intent upon marching in the opposite direction.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, “The Legacy.” Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access her work.