Peace is not about leaders. It is about people.

Signing the Abraham Accords. Sepember. 15, 2020, on the South Lawn of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

We stand to witness a potential new era begin here in the Middle East. For centuries, the Middle East has been nothing less than a continuous battleground for power, land, and status.

Since 1948, Israel, a new, young, and somewhat different Middle Eastern country joined the ranks and changed the region as we know it. Israel is a democracy, a place for freedom, and a country that was not created by a fallen monarchy, civil war, or unrest. Of course, the road was not easy, don’t get me wrong, but Israel was built out of necessity, out of hope, and off the coattales of a dream. Smack bang in the middle of one of the most unstable regions in the world.

Over her short 70 plus years of existence, Israel has been on the verge of war at any given moment. Upon her establishment, it was as if the countries in the area unanimously declared: “Well there goes the neighborhood.” This sentiment carried true for many years, followed by much hatred and bloodshed until eventually, things started changing, ideals were set in motion and the word peace began to appear in the lexicon of the Middle East.

It started in ’79 with the Egyptians and followed in ’94 with the Jordanians, but this peace was different, it was a strategy. There were no celebrations among citizens and people seemed somewhat unaffected. In reality, papers were signed and there was, in a sense, nothing new under the sun. Until now.

Out of nowhere, so it would seem, Israel announced normalization with the UAE. There was much excitement and fanfare among the two nations, celebration on social media, businesses moving full steam ahead with trade agreements, and every Israel celebrating how a week in Dubai would be cheaper than three days in Eilat. The atmosphere was electrifying.

In the weeks following the announcement, it became clear that other nations would follow suit. Welcome to Bahrain, and Sudan. But where is the fanfare? We took two steps forward and then three steps back, once again peace on paper. A deal between leaders, not between people.

The New Middle East can only last as long as the people on the ground allow it too. The Sudanese and Bahraini people don’t seem convinced, in the same way that the Egyptians and Jordanians have not been either.

The world is waiting in anticipation for an American Election, and the state of Israel is under continuous threat of one at home. The buzzwords, however, are that none of this would have been possible under any other leadership. Perhaps this is true; but does it mean that if we were to change the residents of Balfour or The White House that these agreements would be torn up and thrown out the window? With the UAE I feel confident that not – because peace is wanted by the people – but in Bahrain and Sudan, only time will tell.

And as for the Palestinians? It is clear that the people and their leaders want different things, but that would be a blog post for a different time.

About the Author
Joshua is an Oleh from South Africa and a proud Jerusalemite. He holds a degree in Political Science and Communications and works for Nefesh B'Nefesh playing his part in helping bring people home to Israel. All views are his own and reflect no official position.
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