Happy New Year 5781
This is surely the way to start a ‘Letter’, to start a day, a year like this.
Today’s technology….snap a few pics upstairs on the roof, paste them onto the screen, move them around a bit. Thank God Nature’s there to bring some colour into this strange World of ours. Turmoil, floods, fires, pandemic and rumbling social unrest. And yes, I’ve missed out a lot.
This ‘Letter’ was intended to ‘tell the story as it’, rather than the misinformation banded around. But right now, I’m not so sure about ‘beating Israel’s drum’. Covid-wise, we are one of the World’s leaders, but for all the wrong reasons. We pride ourselves in being ultra-democratic; 2 Jews will have 3 opinions etc. etc. Right now, we
a) lack strong leadership, and
b) we need to follow the leader and do what we’re told.
Friday/Saturday is Jewish New Year. It is traditional to sit down with the family. But Friday will mark the start of a national lockdown to try to curb the spread of Corona. So what do we do? Bring the dinner forward to tonight, of course.
But I want to spread some optimism. For instance, let’s believe Trump for a minute and look forward to the distribution of an effective vaccine, perhaps next month, but latest by November/December. Well, that’s that solved. What? A large number will refuse to take the vaccine? Just a temporary hitch. More questions? My assistant will handle them.
Trump and Netanyahu appear to be bosom buddies. Their backgrounds are totally different, but they are now finding themselves on the same centre-stage. Let’s put aside political polarisation of which both are parts. Let’s leave aside their apparent failure to unite their relevant countries behind them in the fight against Corona (and it must be admitted that many countries and regions are in the same boat).
In fact, let’s leave aside all the negative headlines that surround both leaders. I want to focus on the ‘peace accords’ signed at the White House just days ago.
Despite the crises at home, it was understandable that Netanyahu attended the ceremony with his family. The UAE and Bahrain only sent foreign ministers. But that’s OK. This is far more important for Israel – and for Bibi – than for the Gulf States.
The word ‘peace’ came up a few times, but these 3 countries have never been directly involved in wars against each other. ‘Normalisation’ is the favoured word being banded about.
These accords are good for all 3 from so many aspects, including cyber technology, innovation, irrigation, AI, trade, tourism and so on down the line. I can actually imagine Gulf Arabs coming to Israel, which rarely if ever happened after the peace accords with Jordan and Egypt. (Israelis will relish the opportunity to visit these strange and special countries).
Then, of course, there is the growing split in the Middle East between Sunni and Shiite Moslems, Iran and Turkey leading the one side, and Saudi and Egypt leading the other. It is no secret that Israel has been Iran’s ‘open wound’.
The anti-Persian alliance will welcome Israel’s support for so many reasons, not the least of which is their close ties with the USA – and many other countries. (One of Netanyahu’s positive legacies has been his constant building of international alliances, all over the globe). The votes against Israel at the UN will no longer be so predictable.
Trump & Bibi. mentioned the other states that are ‘lining up’ to make a deal with Israel, and I believe they’re right. And I also believe, with both men in a hurry to gain political kudos, this will happen soon. Certainly before the bona fide Covid vaccine is distributed.
So, whom have I forgotten? Oh yes, the Palestinians. And so has practically everyone else. Hamas may have fired a few rockets into Israel during the signing, and others in both Gaza and the West Bank burnt flags and banners of the 4 countries involved, but, the fact is that they continue to be left behind. (Read at least a third of my ‘Letters’ over the years, and nearly every relevant word has been right).
I watched Hanan Ashrawi being interviewed on CNN. It might have been a robot, as she has neither changed her looks nor her words since the days when she was always at Arafat’s side. She may be eloquent, but she refuses to appreciate the words ‘Move On’. She’s banging on the same old drum, and the drumskin has torn.
I actually believe these accords can and will be good for the Palestinians. A lot of their financial support comes from the Gulf. I believe these countries will be able to strongly influence the minds of the Palestinians – especially if/when the old guard, e.g. Abbas and Harawi ‘move on’. (And if Qatar joins in, God forbid, they’ll almost be forced to join in).
The wording of the accords is short. Just a few pages. Basic aims; no ‘dreamy promises’. They’ve left little space for failure. This is going to work, and you will now be witnessing a new definition for ’the Middle East’.
September 18, 2020