No Kosher Coffee-House in Mecca

Before Israeli tourists rush like the madding crowd to follow the footsteps of Prime Minister Netanyahu and other members of his government to obtain a visa to one or more of the Gulf states,  please face reality.

Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and the sheikhdoms and kingdoms of the tiny Gulf states are not our true friends. They can never be.  Like Saudi Arabia, the oil giant, they smile at us and welcome our political leaders to their magnificent and palatial lands only for one purpose which meets their immediate needs.

As orthodox Islamic states whose followers are bound to Islamic faith and sharia law, there is no love for the Jews. And while they do not wage war against us they, nevertheless, would not be too unhappy if we did not exist.

They need us only as a buffer against a common enemy… the Islamic Republic of Iran. Were it not for their fear and hatred of the Iranian regime they would continue to ignore us as they have in past decades.

There is no need to submit an Israeli passport to one of their consulates located in neighboring Jordan or Egypt. They will not place a stamp in it. The red carpet is not yet out for visiting Israeli tourists.

The Gulf states, unlike Turkey,  are not in any need for Israeli shekels in the shuks or bazaars of their kingdoms. There is very little they can offer us in material goods or resources.

We, on the contrary, have much to offer them in agriculture, water development and natural gas among other treasures of the natural world.

Netanyahu, in a frenzy of rapture, hails the new relationships with the Gulf states as his newest miracle. At the same time he drools at the prospect of increased relations with impoverished African nations like Chad who likewise need us only for their own purpose. We are the supplier of their weapons and planes.

The world is based upon self-interests. If you don’t have what we need and if you won’t give us what we do need, then we have no need of you.  Very simple political fact of life.

Egypt needed us, not out of love for Jews, but for the return of the large Sinai which we captured from them after the 1967 war.  Jordan needs us, not out of the love for Jews, but out of its demand to be the master of the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, a gift which Moshe Dayan bequeathed to them in 1967.

The cry “the Temple Mount is in our hands” was not true and never will be. The Western wall  (kotel) was in our hands and always will be. But the Haram al-Sharif, the site of our two ancient Temples, is under Jordanian protection. On occasion, some Jews are permitted to visit under security guards but are sternly prohibited from praying there.

So much as a movement of Jewish lips or a bow of a Jewish head while passing the holy site is considered a form of forbidden worship by the Muslim keepers of the Mount and is punishable.

The smiles and handshakes between the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, ibn Salman, and Jared Kushner are examples of treachery and misguided intentions. Both men need one another. And while much of the civilized world condemns Saudi Arabia and, in particular, the crown prince, for the brutal assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, President Trump and his son-in-law Jared have lacked the courage to place the blame where it belongs.

Oil is more precious than humaneness.

So travelling Israelis might do better with visits to China, Thailand or the Czech Republic rather than waiting for the near-impossible chance of receiving a Gulf state visa in an Israeli passport.

There is no kosher café or coffee-house in Mecca now and never can be. Thankfully I can get my Aroma or Cup O’Jo  at Cafe Rahele on Ben-Yehuda street in Tel-Aviv.

No visa necessary to get there.

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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