saSix Arab Muslim journalists from Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia arrived in Israel as official and welcome guests of the government of Israel, formally invited by our Foreign Ministry. They came to visit at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center, at our hopefully still democratic Knesset, to have meetings with our Foreign Affairs and Defense ministries and to worship at the very holy places of their Islamic faith, the Temple Mount and the Al Aqsa Mosque.
It was there that the most unimaginable and unbelievable happened. While he was worshipping, Mohammed Saud, a young journalist from Saudi Arabia, was beaten and physically attacked.
NOT by Jews. But by his fellow Muslims. You know the kind. The ones who preach love to fellow Muslims, smiling while stabbing them in the back.
They spat at him, threw plastic chairs and other materials at him all the while shouting Arabic curses at him. They followed behind him, the curses and attacks continuing, all under the eyes of the Muslim Waqf, caretakers of the Muslim holy places.
As he fled from the Temple Mount and made his way through the narrow alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City, wherever he went and was seen by Palestinian Arab Muslims, it was not the traditional warmth of Arab hospitality which he received. Au contraire !
Arabs yelling “You are an animal. You are a dirty dog. You are Zionist trash. Get out of here. Go to a synagogue. You stink”. These are the words of “welcome to Palestinian Jerusalem” that Mohammed Saud heard.
The Israeli government condemned the lack of respect. The newspapers and television criticized Muslim religious leaders who permitted joyfully this cruelty to happen.
Tomorrow Mohammed is invited to a personal meeting with Israel’s longest serving prime minister who, for some unknown reason, the young Saudi journalist admires.
It would not surprise me if their conversation would be in Hebrew. Mohammed Saud speaks fluent Hebrew and admires the progress Israel has made on the international stage.
At the first instance, I wondered why Saud was the only one of the six Arab Muslim journalists who was attacked. Later it occurred to me that while Jordanian and Iraqi Arab journalists most often are dressed in western clothes Mohammed Saud was dressed in traditional black flowing Muslim robes with a keffiyeh on his head as is the traditional manner in his home country, Saudi Arabia.
As a Jew, not only as an Israeli, I feel anger for the cruel reception which he received from “brother” Muslims, those hypocrites who falsely proclaim loudly the tolerance of Islam.
What memories of his first visit to the Jewish Zionist State will continue to haunt him? What will he write of Israel in his next published article?
If he and his fellow Arab comrades were to walk down the streets and boulevards of Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv they would be showered by the handfuls of candies and sweets thrown to them as a sign of welcome. They would be given the warm welcome which Jews give to invited guests.
While we have a peace treaty with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, we do not have one with Iraq (the ancient Babylon in which we once lived and produced the Talmud and the teachings of our greatest rabbis and scholars who lived there for centuries in peace and in harmony with their neighbors).
We have no formal peace treaty with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia nor with the Emirates of the Gulf States. But we have had many cordial conversations with them and we have been honored guests in several of the Gulf State nations.
Peaceful accords are on the horizon. We only need to be more patient. Our common enemy is Iran.
I sincerely hope that we may have future formal visits from dignitaries and scholars of the Arab Muslim nations and I pray that they will receive the finest Jewish hospitality instead of the curses and attacks from their fellow Muslims.
Insh’Allah . Ken yehi ratzon. So may it be . Im yirtzeh Hahem !
Bruchim ha ba’im l’Medinat Yisrael, achim shelanu. Welcome to Israel, our brothers.