I am pinching myself until it hurts. Are miracles happening around us? This week, two members of the government of Saudi Arabia paid a visit to the Grand Synagogue of Paris, their first ever visit to a synagogue.
Rabbi Moshe Sebbag , rabbi of the Grand Synagogue and the Chief Rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, hosted them. A Torah scroll was taken from the Aron Kodesh and opened so that the distinguished Arab dignitaries could see the Hebrew writing which was translated for them by the Rabbis.
They were deeply impressed as all of the ornaments in the synagogue were shown and explained to them. They left the synagogue in a very uplifted manner and expressed gratitude to the two rabbis.
Good things often come in pairs. Also this week, a Kuwaiti journalist wrote a long and fascinating article in the main Kuwaiti newspaper declaring that Israel is a legitimate State and should be so recognized by Arabs. He further wrote that when Israel became independent in 1948 there was no Palestinian state in the world. He praised Israelis for their values of life, family, culture and religion.
I pinched myself once again. Arabs are praising us? I do believe in miracles and would like very much to see these miracles fulfilled in my lifetime.
Israel has openly admitted that it has covert relations with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It must be remembered that some years ago it was Saudi Arabia which put forth an Arab peace plan which would be recognized by all Arab and Muslim nations if Israel accepted the terms of the proposed plan.
It meant giving up land, returning to the 1967 borders, arranging for compensation to refugees of 1948, and sharing Jerusalem with the Palestinians, the eastern part of the city to be the capital of their future state. Clearly, as we all know, Israel was not able to accept those terms.
However, Saudi Arabia looks to Israel for support against Iranian aggression in the Middle East. Iranians are Muslims but they are not Arabs and are generally disliked in Arab countries.
It would be a very nice gesture if King ibn Salman would invite President Rivlin to visit in Riyadh and to view the magnificence of the mosques in that country. Perhaps that wish is still far off but nevertheless, believing in miracles, I suggest that such a visit may take place in the near future, insh’ Allah.
An accord with Saudi Arabia would open up cordial relations with the Gulf states, leading to trade and tourism.
It would be a delightful memento to have a Saudi Arabian visa stamped into our Israeli passports.
Once upon a time it was possible to travel by train from northern Palestine (Israel) into Lebanon and Syria, crossing the Syrian-Turkish border and connecting with the famed Orient Express train from Istanbul to Paris. Agatha Christie would have found something grand to write about.
Imagine Hercule Poirot as a passenger on that long-distance train. Mon Dieu!
Miracles are made, sometimes by God but more frequently by man. With Arabs visiting a synagogue and with another Arab publishing an article in praise of the Jewish democratic State of Israel, miracles may occur before our eyes.
Watch carefully and hopefully for further details.
And now I’ve stopped pinching myself.