(May 28, 2019 / MEMRI) In the past two years, Saudi media have published no few expressions of support for Israel, and for normalizing relations with it. The Iranian threat, and its tangible manifestations in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, have caused many Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally in the struggle against Tehran. Moreover, the Arab and Western media have occasionally reported that Saudi Arabia is interested in economic cooperation and normalization with Israel and has even taken steps to this end.
In terms of its official position, however, Saudi Arabia has been careful to stress that it has no relations with Israel, opposes Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and remains committed to the Arab Peace Initiative, which makes normalization conditional upon a permanent solution to the Palestinian issue. This position has been articulated by Saudi Arabia’s representatives in the United Nations, as well as by Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to the United States, Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, who in an interview on Al-Arabiya TV denied any Saudi cooperation with Israel and clarified that there has been no change in the kingdom’s position towards it.
This ambivalent attitude towards Israel is also discernible in op-eds published in the Saudi press. Alongside articles supporting Israel and calling to establish relations with it, there have been articles expressing reservations about maintaining ties with it and even harshly attacking Israel and its policies and accusing it of cooperating with Iran against the Arabs. Some of these articles employ brutal language, expressing hope for Israel’s demise and describing any Arab rapprochement with it as treason.
For example, in his column in the Saudi daily Okaz, journalist Sadqa Fadil listed arguments against normalizing relations with the “cancerous entity” Israel, and called the Zionist movement “the bitterest enemy of the Arab and Muslim nation.” He added that any Arab who accepted Israel was committing treason against himself.
Fadil wrote: “The truth about the Zionist entity, its political character, its goals and its ambitions is already known not only to political observers but also to ordinary people, both Arab and non-Arab. Now that this cancerous entity has existed in the heart of the Arab nation for 70 years, most of the Arab peoples have become aware of the truth about this mini-state, whose aggressive expansion policy has caused them [to feel] nothing but rage, fury and profound hatred.
“There is a small and unimportant minority of pro-Zionists who regard Israel as an ordinary and ‘respectable’ state. It appears that people become [pro-Zionist] only if they possess one or more of the following characteristics: [a desire] to be rewarded by Israel in some way; a corrupt and inhuman character; ignorance regarding the character, the true [nature] and the history of the Zionist entity, or hypocrisy and [an urge] to pander to the those who support Israel and its aggression, especially the United States, out of a belief that ‘the way to America’s heart passes through Israel.’
“An honest person, especially an Arab, cannot accept Israel as it is today, for accepting it is ideological blindness and treason against oneself. Accepting Israel as it is today, without pressuring it to meet the demands of a peace that will realize [at least] the minimal rights of the Palestinians, means foolish and despicable normalization, for free. Such a humiliating and degrading normalization has terrible, horrible and negative implications and consequences for the Arabs.”