Israeli and Saudi leaders ‘to meet in public for first time’ (& Getting to know Pete Buttigieg)

February 10, 2020

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made another trip to Africa last week, where he met the Sudanese leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan for the first time. The meeting took place at the residence of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

Sudan, a member of the Arab League, and until recently a close ally of Iran, may be in the process of establishing formal ties with Israel. Sudan is led by a military-civilian transitional council, which was established following the overthrow in a popular uprising last April of the dictator Omar al-Bashir (who is wanted for war crimes for the Darfur genocide).

In the past, Sudan hosted many terror groups including Hamas, the PLO, Hizbullah and al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. -- Tom Gross

 

“NETANYAHU TO MEET SAUDI CROWN PRINCE IN PUBLIC FOR THE FIRST TIME”

[Notes by Tom Gross]

Israel’s highest circulation newspaper Israel Hayom, as well as other sources, report that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman may meet in public later this month, prior to the March 2 Israeli elections.

As I have reported previously, Netanyahu and MbS are believed to have met in secret before, most recently last October when a privately owned, unidentified Challenger 604 jet departed from Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport and flew to the Saudi capital Riyadh before returning to Tel Aviv an hour later.

A public meeting between the de facto leaders of these two major Middle East powers would mark a major breakthrough in relations between the Jewish state and the Arab world.

This month’s meeting would reportedly take place in Cairo, and also be attended by the leaders of the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Bahrain and Oman, according to sources.

ABBAS ALSO TO BE INVITED

It has been arranged through the mediation of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and by Donald Trump’s senior advisor Jared Kushner.

Netanyahu has reportedly asked that Jordan’s King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also be invited, but it is not clear if they will agree to attend.

Over the last ten years of Netanyahu’s prime ministership, Israel has made enormous strides in establishing relations with a wide range of Arab countries. There have been many meetings between Israeli and Arab officials. Most of these meetings have taken place in private, often in Europe, with outsiders (including myself) invited on some occasions to the more informal meetings.

***

I was also invited to be interviewed by Asharq Al-Awsat, which is owned by a member of the Saudi royal family:

English version: https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/2094706/tom-gross-role-journalist-report-events-some-media-have-now-gone-beyond

Here is the Arabic version.

 

AL JAZEERA HOST TO HIS 5.5 MILLION TWITTER FOLLOWERS: ISRAEL IS THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PROJECT IN THE LAST 100 YEARS

Faisal al-Qassem, the host of Al Jazeera’s popular program The Opposite Direction, on Saturday wrote (in Arabic) to his 5.5 million twitter followers that Israel is “the most successful project” of the 20th and 21st centuries. His tweet led to a fierce debate on Arabic social media, with many respondents agreeing with him.

“For most Arabs, if they want to curse you, they will describe you as a ‘Zionist,’ even though they know that the most successful project in the current and last century is the Zionist project,” Faisal al-Qassem wrote.

“All of the Arabs’ projects, especially that of Arab nationalism, failed. So before you use the term ‘Zionist’ as a curse, you must first come somewhat closer to what Zionism has accomplished and then we will talk,” he added.

TWITTER POLL

Then yesterday, al-Qassem asked Twitter users to vote in a poll as to whether they consider Israel or Arab regimes to be more “advanced, developed, democratic and successful,” and eighty-two percent of 6,168 respondents chose Israel.

You can see the discussion here:

https://twitter.com/kasimf/status/1226250913125367810

It should be noted that other Al Jazeera hosts continue to strongly criticize Israel.

 

ARAB MEDIA ACCUSE ISRAEL AND US OF CONCOCTING CORONAVIRUS TO HURT CHINA

Several reports in the Arab press have accused Israel and the US of having created and spread the deadly coronavirus as part of an economic and psychological war against China.

The Saudi daily newspaper Al-Watan claimed that it was “no coincidence” that the coronavirus was absent from the US and Israel. (In fact there were 12 confirmed cases of Americans having contracted the coronavirus at the time the Al-Watan report was published.)

“A ‘wonder’ virus was discovered yesterday in China; tomorrow it will be discovered in Egypt, but it will not be discovered either today, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow in the US or Israel,” Al-Watan alleged.

“A SUITABLE CHOICE FOR AN AMERICAN CRIME”

The Syrian daily newspaper Al-Thawra made similar claims, writing that “Ebola, Zika, SARS, avian flu and swine flu, through anthrax and mad cow disease to the coronavirus – all these deadly viruses were manufactured by the US and threaten to annihilate the peoples of the world.”

The Egyptian news site Vetogate.com said that “Wuhan was a suitable choice for an American crime... for [Wuhan] is not a focus of attention, and the level of healthcare there is surely lower than in the larger and more important [Chinese] cities [and Wuhan will need emergency treatments and medicines] which will be manufactured by an Israeli company.”

The Arab media, like some journalists in the western media, regularly spread antisemitic and anti-American conspiracy theories.

 

GETTING TO KNOW PETE BUTTIGIEG

On a completely unrelated note, several people have asked me in recent days if I can tell them about Pete Buttigieg, who is (of course) running to become Democratic Party candidate for the US president, and who won last week’s Iowa caucus, and is in second place (after Bernie Sanders) in the polls for the New Hampshire primary tomorrow.

The answer is, I don’t know much about Buttigieg, but you may want to watch this new profile and interview with him from The Daily Show (February 6).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6jO0kwPMDE

 

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All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.