# 374 – Desperately Seeking a new Middle East by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 374 – Desperately Seeking a new Middle East

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 409
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Desperately Seeking a New Middle East

These are photos from our roof earlier today…

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The Bee Gees sang ‘You don’t know what it’s like…”. Well, I’m going to rile some of you by writing that, unless you have been here in Israel and spent time here, you really don’t know what it’s like. I’m not asking for pity, nor am I directly asking for tolerance. Just making an opening statement…

The regional normalisations going on at the moment are potentially fantastic! Obviously, it’s the deals with our Arab/Middle East/N. African neighbours to which I’m referring. (Bhutan is a cute one. Has anyone warned them about the ‘average Israeli tourist’?).

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Last week, 3 fabulous cars appeared next to the Tel Aviv promenade and a group of Emiratis got out and started chatting with the flabbergasted locals. Selfies were snapped by everyone. Turns out that it was a scam – these were Arabs from the Northern Galilee town of Kfar Kassem – Israeli Arabs. The Editor of the Jerusalem Post wrote that this illustrated how much we need to change our attitude towards the Israeli Arabs.

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Well, I wrote letter to the editor that it is all well and good, but to compare Emiratis today with Israeli Arabs/Palestinians, is naïve to say the least. We all like to generalise – in fact, for arguments’ sake, it is quite OK to generalise. But have a quick look at ‘Arabs’, and you’ll see it’s not easy to group them all together. Had they been united in 1948, Israel would not exist.

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For a century, this land has been in a state of war. Just about every male and many of the females of my generation have been involved in one or more wars. Then they serve in the reserves, and then they get older. But it does not end there. Do you know what it’s like to have a son or daughter in the armed forces? Do you think it’s easier for grandparents?

We are now moving into a new era, where we must and shall stop looking at Arabs and being suspicious of them. But it will not be easy, for our relationship with the Palestinians will constantly remind us that ’there is an Arab problem’.

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Morocco is now ‘a friend’ and several more countries are at the ready. We don’t expect much more movement on this subject until after the U.S. elections. The political divide in the US is so great, that many decisions made during the Trump presidency will be attacked and even reversed by the new administration. The Middle East is one of many areas where the policies greatly differ. So it’s perhaps sensible to pause, and then to let the Biden team take some of the praise for further normalisation agreements between Israel and the World.

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Can you imagine: over 50,000 Israelis have been to Dubai in the 4 weeks since the signing. Yes, a lot of tourists (a handful already in jail) but an incredible number of business folks, scientists, politicians, economic and agricultural advisers, hi-tech and start-up brains.

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Just a word about Qatar, definitely on the list of potential signatories with Israel. Qatar…The home of Al Jazheera, not necessarily the most pro-West and pro-peace station. Qatar is known to support terrorist organisations; they are financial and moral supporters of Hamas. And then there’s the fiasco of how they won the contract to host the 2022 World Cup. Won’t repeat all the negatives, but look how the World has changed. All being (health-wise) well in 2022, there’s going to be a lot of Israeli football fans going there. And, like now in the Emirates, kosher food will be available.

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I’ve said it before and will repeat it here: we are dealing with (generally) a mentality that smiles today, but could frown tomorrow. So we must go into these deals with eyes wide open. However, what does seem obvious is that, for both sides, the establishment of an alliance of nations in the Middle East that can stand up to the extremist threats coming from Iran, Turkey and their ‘associates’ across the region is game-changing. No more ‘Israel against the rest’.

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And the other big news – other than the Covid subject – is that we shall have elections in March. That’ll be 4 in 2 years. Wonderful for those addicted to elections. But for us others, another downward slide into political oblivion. Netanyahu has lost his Likud party rival, Gidon Sa’ar, and the resulting split will, of course, weaken him. Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s hated co-unity government ‘partner’ will also lose support to the Sa’ar party. 3 months of wheeling/dealing, while Covid and its mutationary (my word) forces continue hitting us where it hurts.

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Like UK and UA, Israel  is racing ahead with the vaccinations. Will they or won’t they? And which side effects will show up first. I’m due to get my needle in the next few days. Some loved ones will try to stop me.

Watch this space….

Stephen

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