Esor Ben-Sorek

MBS and the Saudi Surprise

The welcome news indicates a possible future relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

I know that I cannot go to holy Mecca but perhaps to the bustling capital, Riyadh. From the airport, do I need to hail a taxi or a camel?  Like tea, will it be one hump or two?

The Saudi Crown Prince has single-handedly brought Saudi Arabia out of the medieval desert and into the busy and bustling 21st century modern world.

Women, for the first time in their history, are now permitted to drive cars. Movie theaters have now opened with unrestricted seating for men and women. Women may be admitted into universities It was not Elijah the Prophet who brought us hopeful good news. Rather, it came from a very surprising and welcome source, MBS (Mohammed Ben Salman) the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

His Royal Highness has recognized the State of Israel’s right to exist ! That recognition comes at a joyous time… a time of our liberation from Egypt and the birth of our people from tribes of Hebrews into Israelite residents of Eretz Yisrael, the land promised by Almighty God to our father, the Patriarch Abraham.

And it is secretly whispered that some Riyadh hotels may serve liquor to foreign guests. If that is not progress, what can it be?  All due to the efforts of a  handsome and wise 32 year old Crown Prince, (may Allah bless him).

While Saudi Arabia has opened its airspace for Air India flights from India to Israel, cutting flight time by more than 2 hours, it has not yet opened its airspace for ElAl to fly from Israel to India and back. This may require some political maneuvering but with MBS in control, all things can be possible.

I am very excited and hopeful that following in the brave steps of Sadat’s Egypt and Hussein’s Jordan. Salman’s Saudi Arabia may soon become our third Arab nation to sign peace with us. If so, I hope that Crown Prince Mohammed may become the first Saudi ambassador to Israel. What a great honor !

His Royal Highness does not know me and doubtful that he reads my articles in the TIMES OF ISRAEL, but if we ever have an opportunity to meet, I would be honored to receive his royal invitation to visit his magical kingdom.

I have heard there is a Saudi professor of Hebrew at King Saud University. Saudi students are not flocking to his classes but the students who do are pleased to learn the Hebrew language which may bring them closer to us in friendship. While friendship is important for Israelis and Jews everywhere, it is truly important for Arabs. Their culture of welcome and hospitality is unsurpassed by any other peoples or nations in the world.

When I was studying in Jerusalem in 1951 I met only one Arab man who became a dear friend for many years.  Rafoul Ghawi was the building superintendent of Jerusalem’s famed YMCA, directly across the street from the world-renowned King David Hotel.

I used to visit the YMCA several nights each week and eventually became a member. Whenever Rafoul saw me, he would invite me upstairs to his apartment where his wife, Widad, would offer me home baked baklawa and hot tea.

The Ghawi family were Lutheran Christians and shared many stories of their lives in their native Jerusalem, especially friendships they had in the years before Jerusalem was divided in 1948.

Eventually, their two grown children left for the United States to pursue their education and Rafoul became more involved in his work. Gradually we saw each other less frequently.

But I learned many things about Arabs, particularly about Christian Arabs with whom he associated regularly.

This is an age of miracles.  Echad mi yodaya? Echad ani yodaya  Who knows one? I know one. Thanks to the Pesach haggadah, maybe I will one day be privileged to visit the land of his Royal Highness, MBS.


About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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