Islam's Reformation: An Arab-Israeli Alliance Is Taking Shape in the Middle East

(Spectator-UK) Ed Husain - A new narrative is emerging in the Middle East. The anti-Semitic craze to destroy Israel was powerful in the 1960s, but now, Sunni Arab neighbors are changing course. Islamist leaders are losing their appeal - at a time when Iran, with its brand of theological fascism, poses a threat to Israel and the Arab world alike. Polls show that the percentage of Arabs expressing trust in Islamist parties has fallen by well over a third since the uprisings of 2011. The number of young people who say they're "not religious" is also on the rise. This generation wants Arab leaders to increase economic prosperity, minimize political conflicts, and build alliances, including with Israel. I regularly meet Egyptians and others who desperately want to normalize relations with Israel and they offer three reasons. First, the events of the Arab Spring exposed the fanaticism of the Muslim Brotherhood and other related Islamists, with the hardliners now being viewed as a threat to both Islam as a faith and Muslims as a people. Second, the need to stand firm against Iran is becoming a cause that unites Israel with Sunni Arabs and anti-Tehran Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The mullahs in Tehran support Hizbullah, which is dedicated to destroying Israel, but they also meddle in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. Finally, and most intriguingly, Israel is being seen by moderate Arab governments as a trade and security partner as the West sends mixed signals. As one Arab prince said recently at a private meeting: "Who else will fly in joint missions against Iranian targets with us?" For 70 years the Arab world was driven by an anti-Semitic ideological craze to wipe out Israel. But before that came a far-longer history of coexistence and respect. The people of Israel are honored repeatedly in the Quran, which confirms that Jews have every right to settle in and around Jerusalem. It was Omar, a friend of the prophet, who invited Jews back into Jerusalem in 637 after five centuries of being banished by the Romans. The writer is a senior fellow at the British think tank Civitas and a global fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

2019-12-18 00:00:00

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