Saudi Professor Reveals Positive Views on Israel

February 20, 2013 1:04 am 6 comments

Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, D.C. Photo: Simon P.

In an age where Arab media often demonizes Israel, the London-based pan-Arab daily, Asharq Al-Awsat, recently published two articles about Israel where the author Dr. Amal Al-Hazzani gives a surprisingly somewhat positive take on Israelis.

An assistant professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Dr. Al-Hazzani in her article, “The Israel We Do Not Know” describes the recent Israeli elections “as something of an exception in the Middle East.” She writes admiringly of the unexpected win of Israel’s new center-left party, Yesh Atid and of its leader, Yair Lapid’s focus on liberal concepts of social equality and education.

The assistant professor writes that Israel has “changed” since its major wars, and that there is “an emerging generation that harbors dreams and expectations different to those cherished by a leader like Netanyahu,” and that they are “…inclined towards civil interests, a love for life, and decent living standards.” She also writes that Arab youths are not aware that there exists in Israel, youths who “strongly believe that Israel’s stability is conditional upon its coexistence with the Arabs.”

While the author also makes sure to pepper her article with negative terminology of Israel, using terms like “oppressive,” “invasive,” “an occupying state” and “bitter enemy,” she emphasizes the democratic aspects of Israeli society.

“In Israel, politicians are distinguished by their sincerity and devotion to the higher interests of the state, rather than their affiliation to a certain group, and this is something we have yet to see in the Arab Spring” Dr. Al-Hazzani writes.

During the Arab Spring, the assistant professor added that “the Arab youths turned to poets with their cheap words, and to politicians who heap[ed] insults upon Israel from their luxurious hotel rooms.”

Dr. Al Hazzani explains that because Israel’s neighboring Arab states do not teach Hebrew, their citizens remain ignorant of Israel and that is the primary cause of weakness.  “A simple means of demonstrating our ignorance of Israel can be found in the fact that its neighboring states are ignorant of the Hebrew language.” She notes that in Lebanon and Syria, “people prefer to study French rather than the language of a country that continues to jeopardize their own security…”

On the other hand, Dr. Al Hazzani notes that in Israel “there is ample opportunity to study the Arabic language,” and “there is a considerable number of Israeli politicians and media representatives who speak Arabic fluently.” The author claims that Israeli immersion in Arab culture, serves as the “real cause for their power.”

The author, however, does not mention that nearly half of Israel’s population is made up of Jewish refugees from Arab countries from across the Middle East as well as their progeny.

In response to her article, Dr. Al Hazzani was inundated with hate mail, to which she responded with another article, entitled “Know Your Enemy” published February 7 in Asharq Al-Awsat, where she states she expected the outrage “for breaking a taboo.” But she says that “… outrage will not change reality. Israel will remain as it is; a small state but stronger than the rest of the Arab world.”

The assistant professor writes in her reply that Arab knowledge of Israel is limited to war, conflict and land dispute. “The bitter truth is that although we Arabs refuse to openly recognize Israel, we implicitly acknowledge it through the martyrs’ tombs, the refugee camps, the Palestinian diaspora, the occupied territories, the periodical wars in Lebanon and Gaza, and the settlement projects. If we insist on denying the reality, we will remain alone in the dark.

Dr. Al Hazzani continues further and explains that there is much more to Israel than the above issues. “The Arabs have been preoccupied with rage and blind hatred since 1967. During this time, Israel has managed to build eight public universities and 200 museums that receive nearly 4 million tourists a year. It has also become a rival to the US in the programming and software industry.”

The author also adds that “it is untrue to claim that America is feeding the Israelis and funding their education and health; Israel is a rich state that does not need others to support it.”

The pragmatic professor concluded the article with her solution to the current state of Arab affairs: “We must understand the Israelis to know how we compare. Wars cannot be won by sentiments of hatred alone; otherwise the Arabs would have dominated the world long ago.”

6 Comments

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Featured Sports World Palestinian Soccer League Withdraws Bid to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Palestinian Soccer League Withdraws Bid to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    The head of Israel’s soccer association called on his Palestinian counterpart to “join forces,” as the Palestinian Football Association withdrew its bid on Friday to have Israel suspended from FIFA. “Let’s leave it to the politicians to do politics,” said Israel Football Association chief Ofer Eini, moments after PFA Chairman Jibril Rajoub announced that his group had withdrawn the proposal. After his remarks, Eini shook hands with the Palestinian soccer chief. Rajoub thanked “those” who convinced him to drop the [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    JNS.org – An organization whose work focuses on the estimated population of 500,000-800,000 Israeli Americans congratulated David Blatt, the Jewish head coach of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Cleveland Cavaliers and a longtime Israel-based coach, for clinching an appearance in the NBA Finals. The Israeli-American Council (IAC), whose stated mission is “to build an active and giving Israeli-American community throughout the United States in order to strengthen the State of Israel, our next generation, and to provide a bridge to [...]

    Read more →
  • Food US & Canada Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Famed ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s will not be introducing a Bacon flavored product to its offerings because the company intends to keep its entire line kosher, Marketing Director Alison Gilbert told AOL’s morning show Rise recently. “It’s kind of funny, a lot of people look for bacon in our ice cream, which is probably not gonna happen because all of our ice cream is kosher,” she said, referring to Jewish dietary restrictions that proscribe the consumption of pig [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli athletes at a world Judo championship in Morocco reportedly faced antisemitic slurs during the competition, news site WorldNetDaily reported on Monday. “We will murder you,” and “you’re not wanted here, go home,” were among the vituperative attacks directed at the Israeli Judo Association team, which was in Morocco last week for the World Masters Judo Tournament. According to Haaretz, each Israeli teammate was met with boos and jeers upon entering a fight. Additionally, no Israeli flags were present at [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Middle East Sports Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said on Tuesday it was “appalled” by a Palestinian Football Association initiative to suspend Israel from FIFA, calling it another “front waged in the context of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” “We are appalled at the temerity of the Palestinan Football Association (PFA) demand that FIFA suspend Israel at your forthcoming Congress in Zurich,” wrote the group’s international relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, in a letter to FIFA President Joseph [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.