No longer silent, Gulf Arab citizens express anger at Israel


Dubai (AP), United Arab Emirates-Ongoing bloodshed in the Gaza Strip has unleashed a chorus of voices across the Gulf Arab nations, who have vehemently criticized Israel and strongly supported Palestinians.

Voice opposition to Israel, expressed in street protests, social media and newspaper columns, occurred just months after the signing of an agreement to establish relations with the Jewish state, and full acceptance of the deal. Complicates the government’s efforts to mobilize Arab citizens over. ..

Analysts said the conflict would also retreat Israel’s efforts to secure more normalized transactions with other Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia.

Criticism to Arab government Signed a diplomatic agreement with Israel In a difficult position with their citizens, it also confirms that the Palestinian cause continues to resonate deeply with people throughout the Middle East.

“Whatever your current national or regional priorities, when this happens, the Palestinian issue will come back and attack you,” said Emirati political analyst Abdulkarek Abdullah. Said.

Nonetheless, public calls for Palestinian rights and Israeli condemnation expressed by countless Gulf Arab citizens largely reflect official statements from the government, all of which somehow condemn violence. .. Some have gone further, and Mr Abdullah hopes that the latest UAE statement calling on “all parties” to stop fighting has become more daring and has nominated Israel as an invader. Stated.

In speaking out, Gulf citizens are challenging the official story of normalization with Israel.

In Bahrain, a civil society group signed a letter urging the government to expel the Israeli ambassador. In Kuwait, protesters have held two rallies and are seeking permission to hold more. In Qatar, Hamas’ top leader gave a speech, and the government allowed hundreds of people to protest over the weekend. In the United Arab Emirates, some people openly wear black-and-white checkered Palestinian Keffiyeh on Instagram, while others tweet with hashtags in favor of Palestinians.

Last year, the UAE became the first Arab country to establish relations with Israel in more than 20 years, following Egypt and Jordan in 1979 and 1994, respectively. It was a brave move that bypassed the Palestinians. He accused it of treason and a puncture wound on his back.

The United Arab Emirates move paved the way for Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco to announce similar agreements with Israel one after another.

The tsunami of national propaganda shaped it shortly after the United Arab Emirates formalized its relationship with Israel in September. As a new era of peace, religious tolerance and security For the area.

Among the general Emirati citizens, when the government announced its relationship with Israel, there was little or no visible backlash from the citizens. A fierce nationalist figure on Twitter with tens of thousands of followers actively supported the agreement, defended relations with Israel through the current conflict, and posted a mockery of Palestinian protesters.

But unlike Western democracy, the lack of protests in the Gulf does not mean acceptance. In the United Arab Emirates, political parties have been banned and political expression has been severely curtailed.

“I think the support shows seen in the early days of normalization represent something deeper in Emirati society … and that’s the majority supporting their government,” Abdullah said. Said. “It was not a sign of support for” normalization “itself, but a sign of support for the government. “

Mira Al Hussein, a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, said she feels that Emiratis is being cared for and valued by the government, which provides a strong social safety net for its citizens.

“But that doesn’t mean we feel comfortable with what’s happening around us,” she said.

Since the outbreak of the fighting, she has changed her Twitter handle to help Palestinians, used the platform to blame Israeli policy and emphasized the atrocities of the war.

“You haven’t signed the paperwork and hope that there will be no man-made disasters,” she said of an agreement with Israel.

Over the years, school curriculum has changed throughout the Gulf Arab countries to replace the ideals of pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism with nationalist identities that connect the people around the flag.

The United Arab Emirates is trying to form a public discourse on nationalism and the rejection of youth and the Islamic movement, said Christine Smith Diwan, a scholar at the Arab Gulf Countries Institute in Washington.

“I think the relationship with Israel was seen as a way to make it even stronger. I don’t know how it works now,” she said.

Al Hussein said his younger brother in his twenties had never studied the Arab-Israeli conflict at school. But he “learned about it from social media today,” she said.

For millions of Arabs, social media is the only place where freedom of expression is limited.Since the beginning of the war, users have been flooded with images of dead Palestinian children It is being pulled from the rubble of an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

These platforms are also flooded with images of Israeli security forces Fire stun grenade and tear gas In the worshipers and protesters of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem Palestinian family fighting eviction from home And of deadly protests across the occupied west coast.

In Gaza, at least 217 Palestinians were killed, including 61 children and 36 women. Over 1,440 people were injured. In Israel, 12 people, including boys and soldiers, were killed in a Hamas rocket attack.

Professor Baderal-Saif of Kuwait University said that the “total imbalance” of the conflict has led many to speak throughout the Gulf.

“In order for the Israelites to feel at ease, they need to feel accepted,” Alsaif said. “That acceptance cannot be completed without them addressing the Palestinian issue.”

Britain-based Saudi scholar Madawi al-Rashid, a fierce critic of the Saudi government, has found that most are solid supporters of Palestinian rights, despite the kingdom’s widespread crackdown on activists. Nevertheless, many online angers have been expressed, Careful promotion of Saudi Arabian leadership to approach Israel And street public opinion.

“It shows that despite years of adopting normalization discourse in the official Saudi media, people’s heartbeats aren’t really distracted from the Palestinian cause,” she said. ..

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Follow Aya Batrawy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ayaelb.



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