Monday, September 21, 2020

Middle East Press on Saudi Gender Inequality, Kashmiri Shia And Palestinian Thinking: New Age Islam's Selection, 21 September 2020

 By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

21 September 2020


•The World Has Changed, It’s Time for New Palestinian Thinking

By Baria Alamuddin

•To Defeat Gender Inequality in The Workplace, Saudi Arabia Needs More Data

By Omar Al-Ubaydli

•Why the Indian State Is Now Scared of The Kashmiri Shia

By Raashid Maqbool 

•US Needs To Be Tough On Iran, No Matter Who Is President

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

•Will Netanyahu Now Make Peace with Israel's Arab Citizens?

By Afif Abu Much


The World Has Changed, It’s Time for New Palestinian Thinking

By Baria Alamuddin

September 20, 2020

For those of us who have championed the Palestinian cause for so many decades, and who view Palestine as the just cause to end all just causes, it is daunting to be faced with new realities. But after 73 years in which the Palestinians have dogmatically pursued identical methods while losing more and more territory, it is long past time for a fresh approach.

Over the coming months the number of Arab states with diplomatic relationships with Israel could exceed seven. If the UAE hadn’t acted when it did, Benjamin Netanyahu would almost certainly have annexed over 30 percent of the West Bank, permanently killing off a two-state solution. UAE Minister of State Anwar Gargash, during a Q&A session I attended at the Emirates Society, strongly urged Palestinians to engage, thus ensuring that this “suspension” of annexation becomes permanent.

The Middle East has changed beyond recognition: A succession of Arab states are embroiled in conflict and unrest. Across the 10 poorest Arab states, two thirds of citizens, 250 million people, struggle in dire poverty or extreme vulnerability to it. The inability of a generation of children to attend school in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere will reap crippling consequences.

The millions of Palestinian refugees dispersed across the region are a component of these terrifying poverty statistics — victims of a frozen conflict, the bitter fruits of which were exploited to recruit impressionable young people into the death cults of Al-Qaeda, Daesh, Hezbollah, and other terrorist groups. Let’s say “enough!” to the Palestine cause being cited as an excuse for never properly confronting these scourges and the myriad glaring failures in Arab governance.

The ayatollahs of Tehran should meanwhile deeply ponder the irony that their persistent efforts to divide their foes have achieved the impossible — bringing the Arabs and Israel closer together. Iran’s puppets in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen brought these states to the brink of ruin. Four decades of aggressive Iranian efforts to export its revolution leave the Islamic Republic looking more vulnerable and isolated than ever.

Israeli politics took a terrifying lurch to the right in the post-Oslo era, based on the myth that there was no Arab “partner for peace.” Israel’s rationale for annexing the Jordan Valley was the strategic threat of Arab forces encroaching from the east. Thus, Arab normalization at a stroke challenges Israel’s siege mentality and neutralizes far-right justifications for stealing Palestinian lands.

The accords reached with Egypt and Jordan are often described as a “cold peace.” Conversely, the Emiratis and Bahrainis haven’t been reluctantly dragged into a deal. They conceded nothing. Rather, they embraced peace from a position of strength.  The UAE, which relishes doing everything bigger and better than everybody else, is rapidly pushing ahead with commerce, tourism, diplomacy and cultural engagement. Bahrain is proud of its small Jewish community, with Bahraini Jews awarded ambassadorial and legislative positions. Closer ties with Israel enhance Manama’s status as a model for peaceful coexistence of faiths.

The Palestinians have primarily been failed by their leaders.  Senior officials in four-wheel drives and lavish villas grew fat on the deluge of GCC funding and a cozy relationship with Israeli officialdom, while their citizens lived in miserable poverty. Instead of risking everything in the cause of national liberation, leaders in Ramallah learned not to rock the boat — making-do with empty rhetoric, while blaming all their failures on the occupation. With fractured Palestinian leaderships unwilling to help themselves, is it any surprise that Arab states grew frustrated at being endlessly expected to put all other priorities aside to champion the Palestinian cause?

Certain Palestinian factions are moving more tightly into Iran and Turkey’s embrace. Sources inform me that President Mahmoud Abbas instructed his Foreign Minister, Riyad Al-Maliki, to seek funding and closer alignment from Tehran. Such manoeuvring is the surest way of throttling the Palestinian cause, leaving it internationally stigmatized through association with pariah states. The trajectory of Hezbollah is a cautionary tale; straying from its commitment to confronting Israel, to being exploited by Iran to destabilize the region and massacre Syrian citizens.

Gargash recognized Palestinian consternation at the normalization, but expressed his hope and confidence that “the Palestinians will come back to us.” Palestine can avoid being one of history’s forgotten lost causes only by continued alignment with the Arab camp. Palestine and Jerusalem are an inseparable component of our DNA. There is no Palestinian cause without the Arab world.

Israel is still led by Benjamin Netanyahu, who for three decades dominated Israeli politics thanks to his embrace of the Zionist extreme right. When Jared Kushner praises him for temporarily holding back on annexation, it’s the equivalent of praising a bank robber for not shooting his hostages.

Palestinian children languish in jail for challenging the occupation, and non-Jews have been marginalized as second-class citizens under a succession of racist laws. Millions of us who had our lives torn apart by Israeli aggression will never forget. Israel remains the enemy until the day it, too, demonstrates readiness for a fresh approach.

The Bahrainis and Emiratis must use their diplomatic presence in Tel Aviv to actively champion Palestinian human rights and the evils of occupation, demonstrating how constructive engagement can advance the Palestinian cause.

I accompanied Yasser Arafat during his final week in Tunisia before returning to Gaza under the Oslo accords. He was sceptical of Israeli intentions, but believed in the dogged pursuit of a peaceful two-state solution, which he described as the “peace of the brave.” He realized that, faced with massive Israeli and American military superiority, armed struggle was unwinnable.

At the latest Arab League session, all Arab states restated their commitment to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. It is time for Palestinians to seize on this starting point; taking their cause in their own hands, and defining their own vision for peace. When they do this, they will find the Arab world in its entirety standing alongside them.


Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is editor of the Media Services Syndicate and has interviewed numerous heads of state.


To Defeat Gender Inequality in The Workplace, Saudi Arabia Needs More Data

By Omar Al-Ubaydli

20 September 2020

Last week’s declaration by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Human Resource that gender discrimination in the private sector is forbidden was a welcome step. However, overcoming labor market gender inequality requires high quality data to avoid misallocating valuable resources and implementing counterproductive policies.

For example, in Chile, a law was passed requiring employers to provide working mothers with childcare, which unintendedly resulted in lower pay for women. In Europe, generous maternity leave policies for women have contributed to decreasing likelihood that women rise to top management positions.

Now, Saudi Arabia must learn from these experiences as it looks to forge a more equitable labour market.

As an illustration of the data problems that Saudi Arabia faces, the International Labour Organization Global Wage Report does not have data on the female-male wage gap in Saudi Arabia. Shoura Council members Latifah Al-Shaalan and Moudi Al-Khalar recently found evidence of a 56 percent wage gap in certain occupations. The belief that there exists latent inequality is reinforced by the headline unemployment rate in 2020, which was 5.6 percent for men and 28.2 percent for women.

Yet the research of scholars such as Harvard University’s Claudia Goldin show why more data are needed. The simple wage gap reported in the mainstream media in all economies is equal to the percentage difference between average male and female earnings per hour. The appropriate way of eliminating the gap depends on which combination of factors, such as potential stereotypes, education levels, or societal expectations of women, are causing it.

For example, it could be that women have lower educational qualifications or experience, meaning that policymakers should focus their interventions on the sources of inequality in education and experience, rather than on artificially equalizing earnings for men and women who might have different qualifications. For example, to counter gender inequality in the case of mathematics education, there is significant evidence that women suffer adversely from being inaccurately stereotyped as being inferior at quantitative reasoning, lowering their confidence and effort, and hence their achievement in the field of mathematics. This calls for a very specific form of countermeasure, such as making stereotype-defying role models highly visible.

Alternatively, it could be that women have the same educational qualifications and experience as men, and there is no wage gap within any occupational class, but that women do lower-salary jobs, such as a bank teller rather than a lawyer. Under these circumstances, creating more egalitarian outcomes requires policies that address imbalances in either the job preferences exhibited by women, or the job opportunities that are presented to them. Some of the childcare-related interventions mentioned were based on the view that for cultural reasons, women are expected to allocate more time to childcare, making them attach greater value to jobs that are compatible with family responsibilities.

Worryingly, using high quality data, scholars sometimes find that labor-market discrimination against women stems from bigotry or misogyny. Prior to the high-profile downfall of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, on the back of his victims’ testimony, detailed analysis of pay differentials suggested that the economic deck was stacked against women in the movie industry. Clearly, a robust legal response was in order, along with a series of measures seeking to erase the exploitative norms that had taken root in Los Angeles.

Returning to the case of Saudi Arabia as they try to create an equitable work environment, building on the experience of Western countries is both challenging and risky. The difficulty stems from the large number of countermeasures, each designed to address a specific source of discrimination. The risk stems from considerable structural differences between the economy of Saudi Arabian and Western economies, and the distinct cultural norms. For example, what works in the UK might have a very different effect in Saudi Arabia. Policymakers trying to deduce the right policy mix will be left scratching their heads.

The solution lies in gathering and disseminating highly detailed data on females and males in the labour market. Researchers need to know much more than a worker’s wage: They need to know their education, their experience, the tasks that their job requires, the physical structure of the workplace, the flexibility of working hours, the number and ages of their children, and so on.

Moreover, it is critical that such data be made freely available to scholars. The improvements in our understanding of labour market gender inequality in Western countries is not the result of small teams of government researchers with exclusive access to sensitive data. Rather, a combination of universities, think tanks, and civil society organizations have been analysing the data in detail for decades, discussing their findings in conferences, and publishing them in academic and mainstream journals. Saudi Arabia should adopt a similar model of open data access, to accelerate the development of tailored policy solutions in the fight against labor market discrimination. As the American jurist Louis Brandeis once remarked: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”


Why the Indian State Is Now Scared of The Kashmiri Shia

By Raashid Maqbool 

120 Sept 2020

On August 29, the 10th day of the holy month of Muharram, known as Ashoura, Indian forces fired pellets and tear gas shells to disperse hundreds of Shia Muslims participating in a traditional religious procession in Indian-administered Kashmir, seriously injuring dozens of people.

Security forces besieged Shia mourners in the Zadibal area of Srinagar, forcing them to seek shelter in residential compounds, as tear gas shells and pellets rained on them. I saw young boys hit with pellets writhing in pain on the ground, as dozens of others choked and coughed among thick clouds of tear gas, unable to help the injured or find a safe spot to catch their breath.

Officials later said at least 200 people were detained for participating in the Muharram processions, and at least seven were arrested under a draconian anti-terror law for raising anti-India slogans.

The Indian state's decision to clamp down on this year's Muharram procession with such force was a sign of its growing concerns over the support Kashmiri Shia started to show for the freedom and self-determination movement in the valley.

Indian authorities have long been pushing the narrative that Indian-administered Kashmir's Sunni-led pro-freedom movement is shunned by Shia and other minority communities in the region. In recent years, however, young Shia men and women became increasingly vocal about their demand for political rights, and many of them started to openly back the resistance against Indian rule in their homeland. 

For decades, Shia in Kashmir have been commemorating Ashoura, the day that marks the death of Prophet Muhammad's grandson Imam Hussein and his companions in Karbala, with processions. The main procession that traditionally took place in the Srinagar city centre covering 9 kilometres (5.6 miles), however, was banned in the early 1990s, when an armed rebellion against the Indian rule commenced.

Since then, Muharram processions have only been allowed in Shia neighbourhoods of the city. Shia community leaders demanded the restoration of pre-1990 processions, but local authorities denied their requests, citing "security concerns".

Since the ban, a handful of Shia made attempts to defy the Indian state's orders and tried to hold unauthorised Muharram processions, but this limited resistance caused little alarm for the Indian authorities who were all but convinced that Kashmir's Shia community posed no threat to their rule.  

In 2018, however, they noticed that things were starting to change.

A poster of the young, popular Sunni rebel commander Burhan Wani appeared in one of the Muharram processions in Srinagar, leaving the Indian government and security services apprehensive. Indian troops killed Wani in an encounter in July 2016, which led to widespread protests in Kashmir that lasted for months.

For a section of the Shia youth to hail a Sunni rebel like Wani in a Muharram procession was unprecedented. Being a regular participant in these processions all my life, I had not seen anything like this before.

Seeing Wani's face in a Muharram procession may have shocked Indian authorities, but among Shia youths, support for the struggle for self-determination had been growing for some time.

There is no doubt that the Kashmir struggle is dominated by the Muslim population, a majority of whom are Sunni. But Shia have always played some kind of role in Kashmir's struggles. In the 1930s, Shia leaders stood next to Sunni leaders in the anti-monarchical struggle against the Dogra rulers.

In post-1947 political and militant assertions against Indian rule, Kashmiri Shias played a leading role, especially in 1950s and 1960s, because of which the community faced reprisal from the state. Socio-economic backwardness of many Shia areas is also attributed to that vengeance. 

During the armed rebellion of the 1990s, there were exclusively Shia rebel groups like the Hizb-al-Momineen, and Shia youths also joined other, Sunni-dominated, rebel groups.

In recent decades, though, sectarian violence in neighbouring Pakistan and Afghanistan influenced Kashmiri Shia's perception of the resistance movement. They continued to take part in Kashmir's political life - there has always been a number of Shia both in pro-freedom groups and pro-India political parties - but their involvement in the armed rebellion was reduced to almost nil by the early 2000s.

In addition, some Shia religious leaders participated in the state elections amid boycott calls from the pro-freedom leadership. And high voter turnout in some Shia areas also led to the perception that Shia do not support "the cause".

Of course, Shia were not the only community in Kashmir that has voted in elections. However, a degree of sectarian bias, mixed with tactful propaganda churned out by the state machinery, strengthened the perception that Shia do not support the Kashmiri resistance.

As with other colonial powers, India has historically gained from creating divisions across religious, sectarian, and ethnic fault lines within Kashmir - the Sunni-Shia divide being one of them. That is why the Indian state is scared of Shia's growing support for the resistance, and has responded so brutally to the young Shia expressing pro-freedom slogans during Muharram processions.

There are many reasons why Shia are now becoming more and more visible within the Kashmiri self-determination and freedom struggle. Social media exposed Shia youths in Kashmir to a wide variety of views and narratives on the situation in their homeland and increasing state repression accelerated their politicisation.

Last year, for example, India removed Jammu and Kashmir's semi-autonomous status and fully annexed the disputed region. It split the region into two union territories, and brought both sections directly under New Delhi's control. The move outraged the majority of Kashmiris, including the Shia.

Even in the Ladakh region, where the Shia community - like the Sunni community - remained distant to the pro-freedom movement for years, the removal of the region's semi-autonomous status led to rapid politicisation. People living in the Shia-majority Kargil district of Ladakh, for example, openly voiced their rejection of the abrogation of the special status and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir.

For years, the attacks by violent Sunni groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Shia communities, coupled with the Indian state's efforts to brew sectarian divisions in Kashmir, limited Kashmiri Shia's participation in the pro-freedom movement. This gave weight to the Indian state's claims that Shia do not support the political struggle in Kashmir.

However, in the face of increasing state repression and violence, young Shia have now decided to articulate their own narrative and negotiate their own space in the landscape of the Kashmiri struggle.  Muharram processions, which by their nature underline the importance of values like justice, honour and resistance, are a potent media in their hands.

As India's right-wing, Hindu nationalist government continues with its efforts to change the demographics of the Muslim-majority region, Shia voices for freedom are now rising. For decades, the Indian state was not bothered by the Kashmiri Shia's mourning wails during Muharram. But with state-crafted narratives that long framed Shia as overwhelmingly pro-India and anti-freedom falling apart, and divisions within Kashmir's Muslim communities being bridged, the state is now scared of the new, bold Shia voices calling for justice and freedom.


Raashid Maqbool is a journalist and media trainer based in Srinagar, Kashmir.


US Needs to Be Tough on Iran, No Matter Who Is President

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

September 20, 2020

After Hassan Rouhani became Iran’s president in 2013, then-US President Barack Obama’s administration viewed his government as a “moderate” administration. This assessment had a dramatic and damaging effect on the Middle East that is still being felt today.

The relatively inexperienced Obama administration unwisely assumed that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, the lifting of sanctions on the Iranian regime, and allowing it to rejoin the global financial system would usher in a better era for the region and the Iranian people. However, it should have been obvious to anyone who understands the complexities and characteristics of the Iranian regime and the region that, not only would this not be the case, but that Tehran had no interest in empowering its ordinary people. Instead, it wanted to pursue its hegemonic ambitions and military adventurism in the region.

Now, after seven years of Rouhani’s presidency, it is clear that the so-called moderates in the Iranian regime had no desire to prioritize peace and stability in the Middle East. Can anyone seriously point to the region today and say that the rush to tolerate or even embrace Iran’s “moderate” politicians has made the region a safer, more prosperous and more stable place? The consequences are there for all to see: A Syria torn to pieces by destructive civil war; Iran-backed militias in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon being more emboldened to wreak havoc across the region; and an Iran that has seen its missile program and funding of proxies proliferate unabated due to the overly generous JCPOA.

Another consequence of believing Iran’s so-called moderate politicians to be constructive players was a worsening of relations with traditional US allies. The Gulf states were needlessly excluded from the nuclear deal negotiations with Iran, despite living on its doorstep and feeling the consequences of Iranian proxy actions far more acutely than any of the JCPOA nations. This generated a scenario that failed to recognize their rightful concerns about missile proliferation and the funding of violent proxies within and next door to their territories. The Obama administration’s soft spot for the so-called moderate politicians of Iran, such as Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, was arguably a key factor in the Iranian regime feeling like it had even greater license for foreign adventurism.

In recent years, relations between the US and its traditional allies in the region have somewhat improved. The Donald Trump White House’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran, despite its many detractors, is also beginning to bear fruit, with Tehran finally feeling the economic need to pull back resources from its band of proxies, making it extremely difficult for them to continue fighting and destabilizing the region. Iran’s currency, the rial, has been in freefall in the last few weeks and has plunged to a record low. The regime is subsequently finding it extremely difficult to acquire enough revenue to pay its employees. Many government employees have even been protesting over their unpaid wages.

However, there remains a sense of American disinterest in the region. This is allowing other powers, in the form of Russia and China, to play a more prominent role; visibly in the case of the former and more discreetly with the latter.

America’s presidential election is the democratic contest above all others whose impact is felt far beyond the country’s borders. That is no less true for this November’s poll and how it will affect the Middle East. Despite America’s gradual withdrawal from the region in recent years, the occupant of the Oval Office still holds considerable sway and influence across the region. Whether it is Trump or Joe Biden in office come January, pushing back against the destabilizing activities of the Iranian regime and its hard-line agenda should definitely be the overarching priority.

In order to achieve this important objective, the US needs to build a bulwark against the Iranian regime and continue building dependable, reliable security partnerships in the Middle East. This is particularly the case given America’s reluctance to commit troops and military hardware to the region in the numbers it once did.

The Iranian regime is at the root of many of the major tensions seen across the Middle East. If the US wants to avoid the destabilization of its close allies in the Gulf and avoid giving Russia and China a freer hand, then it cannot offer Tehran and the so-called moderates such as Rouhani even tacit acceptance. The approach the next US president takes to this issue will define America’s regional standing for decades to come.


Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist.


Will Netanyahu Now Make Peace with Israel's Arab Citizens?

By Afif Abu Much

Sep 18, 2020

As-Salaam Alaikum.” That’s how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose to begin his Sept. 15 message. He continued, “to all of Israel’s friends in the Middle East: those who are with us today, and those who will join us tomorrow.”

Netanyahu delivered this speech at the ceremony to mark the signing of the Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain on the South Lawn of the White House. He later tweeted that part of the speech in Arabic to all his Twitter followers around the world. Yes, in Arabic! The very language that, just two years ago, saw itself demoted by Netanyahu himself, from Israel’s second official language to a language with “special status,” to use the term as it appears in the new law.

The truth is that anyone who has followed Netanyahu’s remarks ever since he announced the normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE will find a man who speaks positively about the Arabs and talks about the need to turn the page on Israel’s relationship with the Arab world. He keeps using the Arabic word salaam, which is very much unlike him. After all, he based his whole career on incitement against Israel’s Arab population.

In fact, Netanyahu’s resume is replete with all sorts of racist comments targeting Israeli Arabs. In the second round of elections last year, Netanyahu wrote in an automated popup Facebook message to his followers, “Arabs want to annihilate us all: women, children, and men.” The incident, which soon came to be known as “the chatbot of hate,” caused Facebook to announce that it was suspending his account for 24 hours. Then there was his miserable comment last March, in response to the election results, that the left-wing bloc has only 47 seats, and that the Arabs are not part of the equation. All of this happened after another famous statement during the 2015 election: “The government of the right is at risk. Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves.” And there were more. In fact, there have been all sorts of attacks and attempts to delegitimize Israel’s Arab citizens.

One person who noticed Netanyahu’s double standard was Knesset member and Joint List senior Ahmad Tibi. This week, he tweeted, “I suggest that Netanyahu make peace with 20% of the country’s population first — its Arab citizens.” In a conversation with Al-Monitor, the chairman of the Joint List Knesset faction added, “Instead of making what Netanyahu calls ‘peace’ with the Gulf states, Sudan and Mauritania, he would do better to look inward and make real peace and a social contract between the state and 20% of its population. Most of all, it is worth his while to stop inciting against this [Israeli-Arab] population. There is only one way to do this, and that is by adopting a Basic Law on Equality, which will state that all citizens are equal. But Netanyahu should take the first step by stopping the incitement and discrimination against the [Israeli] Arab public.”

This leaves the inevitable question: How do Netanyahu’s statements of the last month, with their incessant embrace of the Arab world, fit in with his earlier, anti-Arab statements? Are we seeing the emergence of a new Netanyahu? Or does English-speaking Netanyahu, who talks about democracy and peace, change his tune when he switches to Hebrew and describes his own Arab citizens as lepers and pariahs?

In these recent weeks, Netanyahu seems to be playing a game of interests. This was particularly apparent in the story of Yakub Abu al-Kiyan of Umm al-Hiran. Abu al-Kiyan was described as the terrorist behind a car attack in January 2017, only to be exonerated last week, three years after he died. Only just now Netanyahu thought it was the right time to apologize to Abu al-Kiyan’s family — after he realized that it would bolster his attacks on the State Attorney General’s Office.

In a conversation with Al-Monitor, influential media personality Lucy Aharish said, “There is no doubt that it is a historic day, when Israel normalizes its relations with Arab states in the region. It’s a welcome event, and Netanyahu deserves all due credit for it.” She added, “However, at the same time, it is impossible to ignore the hypocrisy in the air. This is the same prime minister who did not stop inciting against his Arab citizens over the last few years, in what seemed like a well-orchestrated campaign. He fanned the flames of hatred and used his comments to intensify the rift between Israel’s Arab and Jewish citizens."

She noted, ‘’It’s one thing if it comes from Netanyahu, but he is surrounded by an entire chorus that supports him and trumpets his messages. The far right joined the racist celebration in the last few years, with racist statements taken from darker days. But these [statements] did not merit even half a condemnation from the prime minister himself. It is the same right wing that celebrates peace with the Arabs from outside the country, while chanting ‘Death to the Arabs’ here at home. I am waiting for the next election campaign, in which Netanyahu will surely use Israeli Arab citizens again as an electoral weapon. For him, this [attacking Israeli Arabs] would be a legitimate means of winning the election. I’d like to see how he justifies such remarks to the Emirates.”

What does shine light on the situation is the composition of the Israeli delegation that flew to Abu Dhabi last month. Despite all the talk about normalization and peace, it was hard to miss the fact that there were no Arab participants, either as journalists or official representatives. It reflects the general attitude in Israel. The country may be home to almost 2 million Arab citizens, but they are not really part of the game. In other words, it looks like Netanyahu and his supporters prefer Arabs who live far away and not Arabs who live right next to them in the same country.

So, should Israel start to normalize relations with its Arab citizens? Imagine a situation in which there was an Arab representative on the delegation, or an Arab minister who met with his UAE counterpart in a meeting conducted entirely in Arabic.

Eyal Hadid, host of a popular radio show on Israel’s Radio al-Shams, told Al-Monitor, “The new agreement gives Netanyahu a chance to highlight ‘good Arabs,’ who have no demands, unlike the Palestinians. Israel’s Arab citizens will soon return to their historic role of going to vote ‘in droves’ as soon as Netanyahu needs to consolidate his block, and bypass [Yisrael Beitenu leader] Avigdor Liberman and [Yamina leader] Naftali Bennett on the right.”



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