News from the Arab Press

How Arab Governments Sold Their Principles For U.S. Support

By Asaf Zilberfarb | The Media Line

January 2, 2018

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Al-Nahar, Lebanon, December 23

Several weeks ago, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Khalid Bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, appeared on national television and described U.S. President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration as a “secondary” issue that should not stand in the way of confronting the “real” threat: namely, the ongoing crisis with Qatar. In undermining the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and classifying it as a secondary issue, al-Khalifa revealed a concerning truth; that is, in return of U.S. support several Arab regimes have forsaken their principles while aligning themselves with the Zionist regime. Bahrain is not the only culprit, as more and more Arab governments begin to normalize ties with Tel Aviv under various pretexts, some more credible than others. We must remember, however, that any recognition of the Israeli state is tantamount to supporting to the occupation. Luckily, some voices have reminded us of this. In 2001, the former Coptic Patriarch, Pope Baba Shenouda of Alexandria, explained that he would never visit holy Christian sites in Jerusalem unless he was travelling on a Palestinian visa. Similarly, Sheikh Al-Azhar, the supreme religious authority in Egypt, denounced Muslim pilgrimages to Jerusalem so long as the city is controlled by the Israelis. al-Azhar’s position is in line with that of his predecessors, all of whom banned visits to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, including Sheikh Abd al-Halim Mahmoud, who himself refused to accompany President Anwar al-Sadat to Israel during his 1977 tour of Jerusalem. If there is one thing that history has taught us, it is that any attempt to sweep the problems of Arab nations under the rug results in the strengthening of Israel. In this respect, the Arab preoccupation with Qatar and Iran seems to have pushed some governments, including those claiming to lead the Muslim world, away from the very basic principles of their own religion. This is a sad reality, but one we must face nonetheless. –Wael Kandil

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