A Moroccan Media Studies Student
The quest for normalization between Israel and the Arab world has made significant strides in recent years, with the Abraham Accords leading to the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco. However, these welcome pacts between governments do not necessarily translate into true acceptance of Israel among Arab publics. Meaningful normalization will require going beyond state-to-state relations to build understanding and recognition between peoples.
The top-down nature of the Abraham Accords has been criticized for being an agreement solely between elites, without broader public buy-in. Despite warmer official ties, negative perceptions of Israel persist among Arab populations, especially related to Palestinian rights. This lack of grassroots support could undermine the durability of these deals.
Furthermore, the absence of a resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict will continue to fuel resentment toward Israel on the Arab street. The plight of Palestinians resonates widely with Arab publics, for whom this remains a visceral issue. Until a just settlement is reached, it will be difficult for Israel to gain widespread legitimacy in Arab eyes.
That is why focusing merely on state-to-state normalization is insufficient. Truly transforming attitudes will require outreach and exchanges between civic institutions, student groups, tech companies, and other non-government actors. The more that average Israelis and Arabs interact on the human level, the more they will recognize that coexistence is possible.
Shared interests in areas like technology, environmental protection, and economic development can help foster constructive relationships. But the people-to-people dimension is vital. Israel should not only be seeking partnerships with Arab governments, but with Arab societies.
The Abraham Accords will remain fragile without public buy-in. Israel needs acceptance not just from Arab rulers, but from Arab streets. By investing in cultural exchanges, education programs, tourism, and joint civil society initiatives, the foundation can be laid for grassroots normalization.
The path to true coexistence goes through the hearts and minds of people. Only by making the case for Israel directly to Arab populations can the worldview gap be bridged. This will require patience, nuance, and a willingness to listen. But in the end, it is public recognition that will cement Israel’s relations with its neighbors for the long term.