The Foreign Ministry of Israel hosted a group of bloggers from Arab and Muslim countries. Six bloggers came on the trip. One of them was Muhammad Saud from Saudi Arabia.
Saud is a very popular blogger. Saud is also fluent in Hebrew.
Like any good Muslim, Saud wanted to visit the Dome of the Rock. He dressed in traditional Saudi religious garb and ascended the Mount.
Local Arabs in Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter were not pleased. The walk to the Haram el Sharif, the Nobel Sanctuary as it is known in Arabic or the Dome of the Rock as it is known in English, requires visitors to take a significant and sometimes twisted path through Jerusalem's Old City. Along the way people threw chairs at the Saudi blogger. Video shows that as Saud walked through the main placadium, approaching the enormous shrine of the Dome of the Rock, one youngster ran up to him, grabbed his arm and spit in his face.
Saud was not fazed. The entire episode seemed surreal — and puzzling. How did these kids know who Saud was and when he would arrive? How did people recognize him as he was, like so many others, simply walking along the path? And how did they know why he was in Israel? It all stems from the depth of Palestinian hatred for anyone and anything even minimally involved with Israel.
Hurled chairs and spitting youth was not part of the Foreign Ministry's objective in bringing the bloggers to Israel. Until these incidents against Saud occurred, the ministry had not leaked news of the visit. For the safety of the attendees, and in order to avoid just these types of incidents, the media knew nothing about the bloggers. And yet, people on the street knew whom to expect and were prepared and ready to yank the welcome mat.
The next day, the day after Saud visited the Dome of the Rock, the blogger guests of Israel's Foreign Ministry met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During their meeting the prime minister spoke and told his guests that actually, Israel is keeping the region safer.
Netanyahu said: “... but within the region, Israel is the irreplaceable power, because there is no other power in the region that without its presence and activity here, I would say the region would collapse … Without Israel, without the things we do, the things we stand for and the things we protect, I think the entire Middle East would collapse by the forces of Islamic radicalism, whether Shiites led by Iran, or Sunni radicalism led by the Islamic State.”
The prime minister also said that Israel “is the one indigenous force in the Middle East that prevents the collapse of the Middle East.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu is correct.
Israel keeps the lid on so many regional issues. Without Israel, Islamic extremism would have taken over major swaths of the Middle East. And from there, the world.
For years, even decades, conventional wisdom in the region was that Israel is a flash point. Experts theorized that Israel's presence in the region was explosive and that Israel was responsible for many of the problems that plague the region.
But that is simply not true. And the leaders of the Arabic world now know that. They know that solving the Palestinian/Israeli issues will not solve the root problems in the Arab world. They know that the Israeli/Palestinian problem is only a small blip on the spectrum of problems they face.
The Israeli Prime Minister takes it one step further. Netanyahu maintains that Israel's battles against Muslim terror and against Iran have kept those forces in check. Last week the head of Israel's clandestine services, the Mossad, acknowledged that Israel has prevented at least fifty terror attacks outside of Israel. Twelve of those planned attacks were in Turkey. Most of the others were scattered throughout the Arab world.
Arab leadership knows that Israel is helping keep them safe. These countries may not have diplomatic relations with Israel, but they are now deeply reliant on receiving Israel's intel about Iran and Islamic terror. Gleaning the benefits of Israel's cutting edge technology and hi-tech is a bonus Israel oftentimes throws their way.
The Arab world at large has shifted their unconditional support away from the Palestinians. They have much more to gain from quiet and oftentimes secret interactions with Israel than they do trying to control, contain and convince Palestinians to tone down their animus and join their ranks.
Palestinians stand alone. They can't even welcome another Muslim Arab who wants nothing more than to pray and pay respects at one of the holiest of all Islamic sites.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.
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