By Basaam Tawil, Gatestone—
A young Saudi man has posted videos on social media in which he calls the Palestinians “dogs” and “pigs.” The man says that Saudi Arabia has provided the ungrateful Palestinians with “billions of dollars” during the past few decades. “The Palestinians,” the Saudi man charges, “have been milking us for decades.”
The videos, which have since gone viral, have understandably drawn strong condemnations from Palestinians, who say they would not have been made public without the tacit approval of the Saudi authorities. For the Palestinians, the abusive videos represent yet another sign of increased tensions in their relations with Saudi Arabia.
Further evidence of Saudi disdain for the Palestinians was provided in a video posted by Saudi Arabia featuring a Palestinian gunman as a terrorist.
Last July, the Saudi ambassador to Algeria, Sami Saleh, shocked many Palestinians when he described Hamas as a terror group. Hamas responded by saying that such remarks were “harmful to Saudi Arabia and its record and stances towards the Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”
The apparent shift in Saudi Arabia’s position towards the Palestinians should not come as a surprise. Like most Arab countries, the Saudis too have finally realized that the Palestinians are ungrateful and untrustworthy. Saudi Arabia and most of the Arab countries are obviously fed up with the recurring attempts by the Palestinians to blackmail them and extort money from them.
The Palestinians were ungrateful to Kuwait when they supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of the tiny emirate in 1990. Kuwait was one of the wealthy Arab countries that used to give the Palestinians millions of dollars in aid. The Palestinians were ungrateful to Lebanon, a country that opened its doors to them and allowed the PLO to create its own state within Lebanon. The Palestinians played an important role in tearing the country apart and brought disaster and death to Lebanon, until they were finally expelled in 1982.
Before that, in Jordan, in the armed conflict known as “Black September” (1970-71), the Palestinians did the same thing until the late King Hussein ordered his army to eradicate the PLO and all the terror groups in the country.
Now, the Palestinians are being disrespectful towards Saudi Arabia — a country that has provided them with billions of dollars over the past few decades. It is no wonder, then, that a growing number of Saudis are beginning to voice their disgust for the way the Palestinians are behaving and talking.
The Palestinians seek to continue holding Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab countries hostage. In fact, the Palestinians wish to retain their death grip against Israel at the cost of their Arab brethren. Any Arab who dares to challenge the Palestinians is denounced as a traitor and a Zionist.
Palestinian officials say that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who visited Saudi Arabia in early November, left the kingdom with a bad taste in his mouth. A senior Palestinian official was quoted as saying that Abbas feels that Saudi Arabia and some Arab countries are would like to see him removed from power and replaced with someone who would be more acceptable to the Americans and Israelis.
The Palestinians believe that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is personally spearheading his country’s rapprochement with Israel. Some of them are even convinced that it is only a matter of time before Saudi Arabia and Israel establish diplomatic ties as part of a peace treaty.
The general feeling among the Palestinian public is that their Saudi brothers have decided to “throw them under the bus” by signing a peace treaty with Israel. The Palestinians claim that Saudi Arabia has accepted the Trump administration’s “ultimate solution” for peace in the Middle East — a plan the details of which remain largely unknown, but is said to promote peace between the Arab countries and Israel before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is solved. Their biggest fear is that once Saudi Arabia embarks on such a dramatic move, many other Arab countries will follow suit, leaving the Palestinians isolated in the international arena and abandoned by their Arab brethren.
The Palestinian Authority, however, is keen not to be seen as taking a public stance against a powerful and wealthy country such as Saudi Arabia. In an attempt to defuse tensions between Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians, some Palestinian officials have come out in defense of the kingdom.
Mahmoud Al-Assadi, the PA Consul-General in Jeddah, for example, said that reports claiming that Saudi Arabia was headed towards normalizing its relations with Israel were false and based on malicious rumors. “Saudi Arabia’s position towards the Palestinian cause and people is historic and consistent,” Al-Assadi said in an interview. “The Saudi leadership has repeatedly made it clear that there will be no normalization with Israel until the Palestinian issue is solved.”
The PA ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bassam Al-Agha, has also taken pains to exonerate the kingdom from the “allegation” that it is seeking to normalize its relations with Israel. In an interview with a Saudi newspaper, Al-Agha heaped praise on Saudi Arabia for its continued support for the Palestinians. The Palestinians, he added, “Will always remember Saudi Arabia’s generosity, hospitality and support.”
The public statements of Palestinian officials, however, stand in jolting contrast with the sentiments of the Palestinian public, which seems to be overtly hostile towards Saudi Arabia and its crown prince.
The Palestinians believe that the abusive videos posted by the Saudi man and other derogatory remarks by Saudi citizens in the past few days are part of a larger campaign by the Saudi authorities to prepare the Saudis for a peace treaty between the kingdom and Israel.
The Palestinians point to a Twitter campaign launched by Saudi citizens under the title of “Riyadh is more important than Jerusalem.” The campaign is accompanied by abusive remarks against the Palestinians, who are blamed for the “loss of Jerusalem and Palestine.” The campaign also repeats the charge made by many Arab countries, namely that the Palestinian “dogs” have always been ungrateful in the face of massive financial aid from their Arab brothers.
The Palestinians have been firing back with full force to this unprecedented online onslaught by the Saudis.
“This is a media campaign spearheaded by the boys of the [Saudi] monarch to pave the way for Saudi normalization with Israel,” commented Khalid Omar. He and many Palestinians claimed that Mohammed bin Salman was behind the online campaign “that smears and discredits the Palestinian cause.”
Yusef Jadallah wrote in response:
“We’re not surprised to hear some Saudis say that Riyadh is more important than Jerusalem. The Saudis are returning to their Zionist origin, which is hostile to Arabs and Muslims. We used to say that the Saudis support us. Unfortunately, the Saudis support Israel publicly.”
Another comment from Radwan Al-Akhras, of the Gaza Strip: “This online campaign is aimed at fomenting strife among the Arabs and Muslims. The only ones who benefit from it are the Zionists and those who are trying to be Zionists.”
The Palestinians also point to more troubling voices emerging from Saudi Arabia in recent days.
Here, for instance, is what Saudi academic Sa’ad Al-Hussein tweeted on November 25, in reference to the 2007 Fatah-Hamas “reconciliation” agreement:
“History relates that it’s the Palestinians who sold out their cause. History is also witness that the Palestinians fought amongst each other and betrayed and violated the Mecca accord.”
Again, many Palestinians took to social media to attack the Saudi academic and the royal family in Saudi Arabia. They accused the academic of being “ignorant” and “illiterate” and claimed that his charges were also designed at paving the way for normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Mustapha Anan, a Palestinian, retorted: “You are a trivial and despicable person; shame on you and your king!”
Another Palestinian, Yusri Yusef, responded:
“What’s the secret behind this Saudi smear campaign against the Palestinians? If you [the Saudis] want to make peace and form an alliance with the Zionists, that’s your business. But why these unjustified attacks on the Palestinians?”
Echoing the Palestinian public’s sentiment, Palestinian political analyst Majed Abu Diak also voiced concern over the apparent rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel. He accused the Saudis of bowing to pressure from the Trump administration.
“Saudi Arabia and Israel appear to be in a hurry to normalize their relations,” Abu Diak claimed.
“The Saudi regime is preparing for Mohammed bin Salman to succeed his father. That’s why the regime is prepared to pay the price [to the Americans], which includes normalizing relations with Israel as a way to improve Saudi relations with the US. For Israel, this is an old-new dream of ridding itself of the status of an alien body in the Middle East.”
Most Arabs, in fact, do not seem to care about the Palestinian “cause” any more, as pointed out in a previous article, which showed how the Arab League ministers were focusing on Iran and Hezbollah while ignoring the Palestinians.
Many people in the West are not aware that the Palestinians are trying to torpedo any peace initiative in order to blame others.
The Palestinians are crying Wolf, Wolf! — but only a few in the Arab world are listening to them. This, in a way, is encouraging and offers hope for them finally to be released from decades of repressive and corrupt governance.
These are just some of the challenges Saudi Crown Prince is facing. It is important to support him in the face of attacks by some Palestinians and other spoilers.
The question now is whether the Saudis and the rest of the Arabs have had enough of the great Palestinian shakedown.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.