In this video from the Freedom Center’s annual Restoration Weekend, held November 10-13, 2022 at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, AZ, experts Evelyn Markus, Caroline Glick, and the Freedom Center’s own Robert Spencer discuss the effect of the Abraham Accords on global anti-Semitism, especially Muslim anti-Semitism.
Don’t miss it below:
Evelyn Markus: [Audio in progress] the effect of the Abraham Accords on global anti-Semitism, especially Muslim anti-Semitism. My name is Evelyn Markus. Together with BlazeTV, I made a documentary about rising anti-Semitism, Never Again Is Now. I co-host Never Again Is Now podcasts, a weekly podcast about global anti-Semitism, which can be found on Spotify, Apple podcasts and YouTube. I am born and raised in the Netherlands in a family of Holocaust survivors, and moved to the United States in 2006, together with my partner Rosa because of the rising anti-Semitism in Europe.
Now, let me move on to our topic. Soon after the Nazis were defeated, another lethal force stood up against the Jewish people. The Arab countries have tried to wipe Israel off the map many times since Israel’s founding, and Iran is still trying it. The hatred is not only against Israel, but also against Jews in general and Christians. Anti-Semitic Propaganda is vast in the Middle East and Islamic theology is full of Jew hatred. Since the 1960s, Muslim Jew hatred spread out to other parts of the world.
I remember then still living in Europe, that our synagogues and Jewish schools were turned into heavily-protected bunkers to protect Jews against pro-Palestinian terrorist attacks. We see the same process starting now in America. Muslim populations in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the West have been radicalized against Israel and the Jews with Middle Eastern resources.
And then in 2020, the Trump administration mediated the Abraham Accords between various Arab countries, Israel and the United States. And I was wondering, will this normalization and increased collaboration of various Arab countries with Israel, diminish anti-Semitism in the Middle East? Will there be less anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda in the Middle Eastern media and school books? Will there be less fatwas against Israel and Jews? And will less petro dollars flow to radical Muslim organizations operating in the West? I have the honor to discuss these questions with two renowned experts on the Middle East and on global Islam, Caroline Glick and Robert Spencer.
Caroline — [Applause]. Yes, please give them a warm applause. Caroline Glick is the senior contributing editor of the Jewish News Syndicates, the senior diplomatic commentator for Israel’s Channel 14 and a Newsweek columnist. She’s the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the author of the Israeli Solution, A One State Plan for Peace in the Middle East. From 1994 to 1996, she served as a core member of Israel’s negotiating team with the PLO.
Robert Spencer is the Director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He’s the author of 26 books, including The New York Times Bestsellers, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and The Crusades, The Truth About Mohamed, and the History of Jihad from Mohamed to ISIS. His latest books are The Critical Quran explained from key Islamic commentaries and contemporary historical research, and who Lost Afghanistan. Forthcoming is The Sumter Gambit, How the Left is trying to Foment Civil War and the book is coming in January 2023.
So let me start with asking some questions to you, Caroline. It is 2 years now since the Abraham Accords were signed. What collaboration and normalization do you see between Arab countries and Israel?
Caroline Glick: All right. Well, thanks for that question. I think the Abraham Accords are — everybody uses the word “revolutionary,” and to the point where it’s not clear what people mean when they say “revolutionary.” But I’ll just put it out there. It was a revolutionary development in the Middle East, and the reason it’s revolutionary is because it changed the way that things have been done in the region in a significant way, in a way that really impacts the strategic landscape of the Middle East in a pretty fundamental way.
The peace deals that Israel reached in 1979 with Egypt, and then in 1994 with Jordan, were political arrangements that were predicated on a lot of things, but they weren’t predicated on shared interests. They were predicated on a desire to placate the United States on the part of Anwar Sadat to pay in the coinage of a cold peace with Israel in order to receive more significant and regular transfers of U.S. foreign assistance, civilian and military, to Egypt. And in Jordan’s case, in many ways, it was just sort of a (indiscernible) first of all, a way to extend and expand Jordan’s bilateral ties with the United States of America. But it was also something that was supposed to be reflective of already-existing ties between Israel and Jordan and the Jordan new regime. We can get into why it actually harmed those relations after it happened in 1994.
But the difference between those and the Abraham Accords is that the Abraham Accords were not about trying to receive better ties with the United States on the part of the Abraham Accord participants. It was about promoting joint interest between Israel and the Arab states involved, and also the sponsor behind the scenes of those accords, Saudi Arabia and Israel. They were a reflection of an already-existing operational alliance that Israel had forged with the states of the Persian Gulf during the Obama administration as a response to American hostility towards both Israel and those Arab Gulf states, with everything related to Iran.
The Obama administration embarked on a policy of realigning the United States away from its traditional allies, Israel and the Arabs, the Sunni Arabs, and towards Iran, on the one hand, and the Muslim Brotherhood on the other. We saw this most clearly and graphically with Obama administration support for the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Mubarak had been the anchor of America’s alliance system with the Sunni Arab world for a generation and a half. And when the United States sided with the Muslim Brotherhood against Mubarak, and forced him out of power to enable the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, that set off alarm bells, obviously in Israel, but also throughout the Arab world, led by Saudi Arabia when they realized that the United States was threatening their own regimes. So the Arab Spring fomented a rise of under-the-table bilateral ties between Israel and the Sunni Arab states.
It was actually the instigator of those ties was the fact that Israel was lobbying Congress against the Obama administration to maintain military support for Egypt after the 2013 military coup that ousted Morsi, the Egyptian president, from the Muslim Brotherhood from power, and replaced him with the chief of staff of the Egyptian military and the Defense Minister Abdel Al-sisi. And the Obama administration wanted to end U.S. military support for Egypt as a sanction against the Egyptian military. And Netanyahu went to Congress and lobbied them to maintain U.S. military support for Egypt. So that was sort of the beginning of the alliance. So the Abraham Accords were a capstone of an alliance that had already been formed between Israel and the Sunni Gulf States during the Obama administration.
When Donald Trump came into office in 2017, he was looking for a way to rebuild America’s alliance system with the Sunni Arab world from the wreckage that Obama had left behind with his probably-Iran policy, which is why his first trip as president was to Saudi Arabia and then to Israel. And that trip marked a realignment back to America’s traditional allies in the Arab world on the one hand, and on Israel on the other hand. So it’s important to note that this is a very, very significant distinction.
And then the Abraham Accords were an expression both of America wishing to reassert American leadership over this alliance, and also to take credit for something that essentially had happened out of American antagonism towards these states, and as an effort to reassert American strategic sanity in the Middle East and standing with America’s allies against America’s enemies, which are led by Iran, but also the Muslim Brotherhood. So this is a very different kind of relationship, the Abraham Accords are.
The other thing that they’re a function of is Israel’s rising economic power. The Arabs, as they saw both the rise in American energy production on the one hand, and the rise of the climate change fanaticism in the West, on the other hand, started to realize that they need to diversify their economies away from only energy. Also, you had a lot of states like the UAE and Bahrain, who had an enormous amount of money that they wanted to invest in various things. And they saw that they were actually sitting next to the startup nation, which is a vital source of technology and also of means a good parking lot for their money because it’s a good and stable investment, and it’s right next-door. So Israel’s very attractive as an investment hub for these countries.
And the Abraham Accord provided provides both economic and strategic expression of these joint interests between Israel and these states. And so over the past 2 years, our trade with these countries has skyrocketed. We just signed a free trade agreement with the UAE. And so this is very, very different from the cold peace that we had with Egypt and Jordan for the past generation. And how it’s impacted anti-Semitism is very clear because anti-Semitism, particularly in the Arab world, is a function of the interests of the regimes. And so when the regimes feel that the use of anti-Semitism advances their strategic interests as they see them, then they promote it because these are not democracies where you have free medias, where you have free presses, hey are largely government controlled. So the same is true of the education system and the mosques. So when the governments have an interest in promoting anti-Semitism, they do. And when the governments have an interest in close cooperation with the Israelis, they don’t.
So we are seeing a significant diminishment in anti-Jewish themes in the media and in the school system and the mosques in these countries since even before the Abraham Accords were formally signed 2 years ago in the White House. And so I think it’s important here, we learn a very important lesson about anti-Semitism, which is that when the regimes that promote anti-Semitism change their view and their perspective on their national interests, then their interest in promoting anti-Semitism goes down.
And here is the last point that I’ll make in response to your question. So Netanyahu recognized that the basic engine for Israel’s power and ability to develop peaceful ties and strengthen itself militarily was by building itself up economically, which is why his free market reforms during his tenure, particularly as Finance Minister from 2003 to 2005, was most significant, arguably part of his public career to a degree. Anyway, it was the basis, that and the free market reforms that he enacted first as Prime Minister from 1996 to 1999, that formed the basis as well of the Abraham Accords because Israel’s economy has grown so tremendously over the past generation, that almost under the radar for a lot of American Jews in particular, Israel has become an emerged economy, a first-world economy, and a global leader in innovation and technology, and in a lot of technologies that are fueling the rise as well of the third world of Africa, of Latin American countries, and now also of Arab countries.
So that gave Israel means to attract, support and partnerships with a lot of countries that had previously not worked with Israel. And I think that you find that Israel’s power and its ability to attract interest and investment and a desire for partnerships from other countries then, has — it creates a virtuous circle where Israel is able to become more powerful diplomatically, more powerful militarily, and more powerful economically because we’re able to attract more investment and more interest.
And one of the side effects of this also is that the more people are interested in bilateral ties with the Jewish State, the less interested they are in spreading hatred of Jews. The one place — the places where we see this not happening are places that have already had large trade with Israel, including Europe and in the United States, where you have the same woke revolutionaries in both areas that are spreading and actively propagating Jew hatred in popular culture.
Evelyn Markus: Thank you. So you definitely see less anti-Semitism being spread and produced by the governments of the country involved in the collaboration with Israel.
Caroline Glick: Um-hum.
Evelyn Markus: You see an interest in the business world to collaborate with Israel in general in the population. What changes do you see in the Arab population of these countries involved in the Accords in their attitudes towards Jews and Israel?
Caroline Glick: Well, I’m not — I don’t have my finger on the pulse of a society in Abu Dhabi or in Manama, but I can say that what we’re seeing expressed in terms of the welcoming, that very, very large numbers of Israelis are receiving in these areas from everybody from merchants and restaurant owners who have koshered their kitchens and are in these five-star hotels, four-star hotels where they’re trying to attract Israeli tourists, they open up kosher kitchens in a way that you don’t see in America, where to make kosher food available on a mass level for Israeli businessmen, Israeli tourists, putting together tourism packages with Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, enabling expansive government sponsorship and support for the opening of synagogues and Jewish cultural centers in these countries, celebrating with government officials Jewish holidays in places like Abu Dhabi. It’s all very surrealistic and it’s all being shown on Israeli television or trade fairs that you see the most popular the most popular booth in these trade fairs in the Gulf are the Israeli booths, where people are lined up and to receive a bracelet that shows that they visited the Israeli booth in the Abu Dhabi trade fair, or whatever the hell. A technology fair is like a status symbol, and everybody wants their picture taken with their Israel bracelets.
So this is — like I said, I don’t like using the word “revolutionary” too much because I think it’s being overused, but I don’t think that you can look at the images that are coming out of these places, and then talking to people who just got back from, or whatever, and they’re extraordinary responses, like the way that they’ve been received, I think, it’s pretty remarkable.
The one caveat I would say though — and I think that this is very clear — is that because this is interest based, if people’s interests or the perception of the interests of the leaders of these regimes changes, then we can also see a shift back to a reversion too, or some sort of new form of an instrumental use of anti-Semitism on their part, which is why I think that it’s important to see the deepening of these ties, because over time, the more expansive these bilateral ties become, the more enmeshed the interests of these countries with Israel’s interest is going to become, and so that’s important.
And one last thing I’ll say about that is that the Biden administration has been doing absolutely everything in its power to undermine, discredit, and if possible, destroy the Abraham Accords. But we can talk about that in —
Evelyn Markus: Okay. One last question to you at this point. Yesterday in your presentation, you mentioned that Bibi Netanyahu wants to further intensify the collaboration with Arab countries. What will he focus on, do you think? What will be his —
Caroline Glick: Well, he said several times throughout the campaign that we won, that he hopes to expand the Abraham Accords to include as well Saudi Arabia. [Applause]. Winning is great, you never should get sick of that or tired of it. (Laughter). But — and it makes a big difference. But he said repeatedly that he wants to forge a peace with Saudi Arabia. And I think that here too, I don’t know how it’s going to work out. I don’t believe that we should pay a price for expanding ties that are below the table in order to make them above-board. I think that we should not pay any price for that because it’s a bilateral interest.
However, I think that given the way that the Biden administration is behaving towards Israel and towards Saudi Arabia, I think that the same rationale that informed the forging of these ties during the Obama administration from the Arab Spring on, still and in a way, has become even more urgent today. It still pertains and or obtains, and it’s become more urgent as Iran becomes closer and closer to becoming a nuclear armed-state.
So I think that Israel’s way of — it was this — this was true in 2014 in our many war with Hamas when the Obama administration tried to force Israel to its knees and to accept Hamas’s cease fire terms. And Israel was able to avoid doing that by using its operational alliance with the Egyptians, the Saudis, and the UAE, who sided with Israel against John Kerry and Turkey and Qatar, who were siding with Hamas. And so it was because of Al-sisi, in particular, but also the UAE and Saudi Arabia that sided with Israel openly in that war, that Obama was stymied, and he wasn’t able to force Israel to accept all of Hamas’s demands in that war. And so I think here you’re going to be seeing a Saudi-Israeli cooperation that’s also going to embarrass the Biden administration because they don’t want to be perceived as anti-peace.
And what instead they’re doing, which is exceedingly insidious, is that they’re trying to pretend that this isn’t about ties; it’s about integrating Israel into the region. And the way that they want to integrate Israel is to force Israel to its knees and vis-a-vis Lebanon, which we saw with the gas deal that they forced Israel to surrender its territorial and maritime water and economic waters to Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon just a week before our election. And they’re going to try to continue to empower Lebanon and pretend that this is called peace at Israel’s expense. So Israel and Saudi Arabia are going to have to be more open in their ties in order to push back against the Biden administration’s effort.
Evelyn Markus: I thank you for that elaboration and I thank you for that elaboration. I have to stop you here because of time. I would love to hear more, but we have a limited amount of time.
Robert, at the one hand, there are Arab regimes that may see a strategic interest in collaboration with Israel, but there is also the Islamic religion and Islamic religious institutions. For decades, the Islamic institutions in the Middle East have spread vicious anti-Semitism to Muslim populations. What are the changes in tone about Israel and Jews coming from religious institutions in countries that now collaborate with Israel?
Robert Spencer: In Bahrain, in the UAE, in the other Abraham Accord countries, there’s been an extraordinary change and a complete de-emphasis of Islamic anti-Semitism because as Caroline noted, the mosques, as well as the media, in these countries are completely controlled by the government. And so if the government policy changes, then so does the preaching. Unfortunately, this is always something that can happen for pragmatic reasons, as the Abraham Accords are indeed pragmatic agreements based on the shared mutual threat that the Arab states that have entered into them have with Israel vis-a-vis Iran.
But because they are not based on Islamic principles, they’re always under pressure from Salafis from the Islamic hardliners, who will say, and are saying, that you are being disloyal to Islam in entering into these agreements, and you have to leave them, or we will continue to increase the pressure on you, and ultimately, hope to overthrow the governments that entered into the agreements based on Islamic revolutions. And this could happen, it can’t be discounted.
As a matter of fact, paradoxically, we are all rooting for the people of Iran, and I certainly do not want to say the slightest thing against that. But it does have to be noted at the same time that if the Islamic Republic falls, which is a consummation devoutly to be wished, then the Abraham Accords might, strangely enough, be more vulnerable because if you had a benign pro-Western government in Tehran, then one of the primary reasons why the Accords were entered into to start with, would be removed. And even if that doesn’t happen, and the Islamic Republic remains in power, and of course, our friends in the Biden administration are doing everything they can to ensure that, as well as to try to undermine the Abraham Accords, then there’s still the possibility that based on the deep roots of Islamic anti-Semitism, that they could be weakened in any case. But still, that’s not to take away from the fact that they are an extraordinary achievement.
And you remember how confidently John Kerry was saying in 2014, 2015, 2016, you simply cannot bypass the Palestinians in any Mideast peace agreement; you have to go through them, it all comes through them. And so one of the reasons for the Biden administration, which is of course, Obama’s third term, one of the reasons for the rage in the Obama administration, Biden administration, against the Abraham Accords, is how thoroughly Trump and Jared Kushner showed up the foreign policy establishment, and upended the conventional wisdom that had prevailed for decades in Washington, and still prevails in the State Department.
And so they have such egg on their face, they have to try to reassert that they were right all along and show that this — well, this never really could have worked, you see, and you can’t dismiss the Palestinians in this way. But actually, it shows that Kerry was 100% wrong, that the Palestinians do not control — they’re not the gatekeepers for the Middle East peace process, that you can appeal to the other Arab states on pragmatic grounds and get them to enter into accords with Israel on the basis of those pragmatic reasons, even despite Islamic principles.
And this is a phenomenon that we see throughout Islamic history. There are all kinds of examples of Islamic leaders making agreements with non-Muslim leaders, and entering into even military alliances on the basis of shared short-term threats. But when those short-term threats are eliminated, then the Islamic principles tend to re-assert themselves. And also, there again, in every case historically, you also have those rulers who entered into the agreements with the Christians or whoever being put under pressure by the hardliners within their own domains. So all these things are intention. We don’t know, of course, who will prevail in the end, but there’s really no taking away from the fact that one of the most important historical achievements of this century was the Abraham Accords. [Applause].
Evelyn Markus: Thank you. If we look at the Muslim population outside the Middle East, especially in the West, Robert, what changes do you see in that population as a result of the Abraham Accords, or the intensified collaboration between Arab countries and Israel?
Robert Spencer: Well, Evelyn, we have to remember that the major Muslim and Palestinian organizations in the United States are all linked in one way or another to the Muslim Brotherhood. And the Muslim Brotherhood’s primary center of operations is Qatar, which is of course, obviously, arrival to Bahrain and UAE on the Arabian Peninsula. And so the anti-Semitism that we see intensifying in the United States over the last few years, as well as in Western Europe, is a direct result of the influence of these brotherhood organizations over groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, American Muslims for Palestine, of course, the Council on American Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America, and all the rest of them in their rage over the Abraham Accords, and their attempt to undermine it by heightening the tensions on American college campuses against Israel, and trying to make anti-Semitism more mainstream on the American left, which of course, they’ve had great success in doing in terms of getting Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib into Congress.
And then their friend Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is not even Muslim, echoes all their anti-Semitism and all their anti-Israel rhetoric. Of course, she doesn’t know or doesn’t care how she’s being played. She just knows who’s signing the checks, and so that’s as far as it goes. But it’s an indication of the response to the Abraham Accords that the brotherhood organizations have been pursuing.
There has been a marked uptick in anti-Semitic activity on American college campuses, university campuses. And this is no coincidence, comrade, as the Marxists say. This is absolutely related to the Abraham Accords, because the biggest danger that the brotherhood groups have is that the Muslim communities in the United States and their leftist allies will start to think, well, really, there’s no problem, we can do business with Israel, we can work with Israel, we can have economic and cultural exchanges with Israel, and then they’re all out of business. So this is why there is such a normalization of all this Jew hatred at this point.
Evelyn Markus: Okay. I saw you write things down about —
Caroline Glick: Well, I just wanted to add a couple of things because I think it’s important just to expand on what Robert just said. We have to remember that the United States Biden administration declared Qatar a major non-NATO ally last year or this past year. And this was an indication that this is, in fact, Obama’s third term, right? Because the Middle East policy of the Biden administration is the Middle East policy of the Obama administration.
And because Qatar is the capital of the Muslim Brotherhood today, and they are also Iran’s closest ally in the Arab world, O’Biden administration, they want to legitimize and expand the power of Qatar. And we have to also look at the World Cup that’s going to be held in Qatar as an expression of this as well. Qatar is an enemy of the United States. It is second, I would argue, only to Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. There is not one major Sunni terrorist organization that is not headquartered, or somehow or another logistically based out of Doha. And they are also an epicenter sort of — they’re a node, a major node, maybe the primary node, of the co-mingling of the woke Americans, Europeans, and the Muslim and Brotherhood, Iran.
And you see a lot of colleges have campuses in Doha. You have the Brookings Institute, which is almost a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Qatari regime; and of course, Al Jazeera in English and in Arabic that are mouthpieces for Muslim Brotherhood and Iranian propaganda against Israel, against Jews, against the West, against the United States. And they’re all very, very intimately linked to senior members of the Biden administration, and the declaration of Qatar as a major non-NATO ally was an expression of that as well.
And finally, I would say that the outgoing administration in Israel, the leftist Muslim Brotherhood government that is just leaving, they were working to expand Israel’s ties with Qatar. And they fundamentally as well don’t understand the nature of the Abraham Accords, and they almost undermine them. The maritime agreement that the Biden administration coerced Israel to accept with Lebanon was also aimed at Saudi Arabia, because what the maritime agreement really does, it just — it provides a means to give Hezbollah billions of dollars and to transform Iran through Hezbollah into an actor in the Eastern Mediterranean gas industry.
And this is an American plan, it’s a State Department plan supported also by the State Department under the Trump administration because the people running Lebanon policy and the Trump administration were terrible. And the idea is this is a way to save Lebanon from financial ruin while rejecting or ignoring the fact that Lebanon is completely controlled by Iran through Hezbollah, which controls both the Lebanese military and the Lebanese government. And so you’ve had successive U.S. administrations that refuse to recognize this obvious fact and this is a really strategic disaster for Israel. And it’s one of the first orders of business that the incoming government is going to have to deal with because we just gave energy resources to Hezbollah. And that is a major strategic issue that is going to be challenging us in the months to come.
Evelyn Markus: Before we close this discussion, I would like to give you the opportunity to ask some questions. Is there a microphone here right here?
Audience Member: (Inaudible). I’ve been following the modernization plans of (inaudible). My understanding, and I’m no expert, but my understanding is that he has to (inaudible) royal family fears the [Salahi] clergy who have influence (inaudible) I don’t know if that’s the case of diminishing now, but I’m very concerned that, well, it seems to me, the reason why the relationship between Israel and Saudi has to be not overt, has to be below the (inaudible) division because of that here.
Robert Spencer: Yes, that’s right, absolutely.
Audience Member: (Inaudible) —
Evelyn Markus: Could you — what’s your question, please?
Audience Member: I’m wondering if that’s the case?
Caroline Glick: Absolutely.
Robert Spencer: There’s an extraordinary video interview of Mohammed bin Salman that you might be interested in tracking down. He covers a wide range of topics, and he’s completely calm and in command the whole time. But then they start asking him about the reform and about the parameters of how far he can go and so on, and getting quite specific. And suddenly, he develops this very odd verbal tick, or facial tick really, where he keeps doing something like — and jerking his head up as if he’s afraid he’s going to get it cut off. (Laughter). And it’s only in that period when he is talking about that.
But I thought, well, that’s sort of revealing really, that’s really true, that he has to tread a very fine line. And the relationship with Israel has to be completely sub-rosa, because any — if he goes too far, he loses everything.
Audience Member: Well, going back to what Caroline said about Israel building alliances, this is more within the [Emirates]. But people in Saudi Arabia, with the best of interest in relationships with Israel, economic, whatever, technological, how is that process moving? Is it moving along at all in Saudi Arabia, the way it’s in Emirates, or are there more obstacles in Saudi Arabia?
Caroline Glick: It’s moving along very, very quickly and expansively. And again, we could not have — I think one of the things that’s most alarming about the Biden administration’s behavior is their effort to demonize bin Salman, Mohammed bin Salman, because they understand that he is behind this whole realignment of the Arab world towards Israel. And this, for them, is an existential threat to their entire doctrine of the Middle East, which is that America must realign towards its enemies, towards Iran and towards the Muslim Brotherhood and away from its allies, because it also renders the United States much less influential in Israel and in the Muslim world outside of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.
So I think that when we’re looking at the expansion of Israeli-Saudi ties, Saudi Arabia allowed for overflight of civilian airlines between Israel and the UAE. You cannot have any of the Abraham Accords without the Saudis. None of them would have agreed to them if the Saudis hadn’t been pushing it. So this is all a function of a functional peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia that was initiated by the Saudis under MBS. So there’s no way to get around that.
And as to just one last thing about your question about above-the-table or below-the-table and what’s important, I said that Israel’s ties with Jordan suffered after we signed the peace deal. And that was because precisely the kinds of pressures that are being brought to bear on MBS by the religious establishment, because the Jordanian — Israel and Jordan have had a strategic partnership since the 1970s, at a minimum, when Israel threatened Syria with war because of the Syrian support for the PLO takeover of Jordan in 1970. And so those ties suffered when they were brought above-board because then suddenly, they were open to public scrutiny by a very, very anti-Israel and anti-Semitic — although that’s synonymous — public religious authorities and Palestinian majority in Jordan.
So I agree; that’s why I said at the outset of the Abraham Accords 2 years ago, I wrote a column and I opposed them in the sense that I thought that it was more strategically imperative for Israel to assert our sovereignty over the parts of Judah and Samaria stipulated and enabled by the Trump Peace plan. But I think that the point is that we should not be paying anything for these ties. If they’re possible and feasible from the Arab perspective, fine; if not, then the under-the-table, the sub-rosa cooperation and strategic alliance that we’ve forged with the Sunnis suffices, particularly because they’re interested in economic ties with Israel and the absence of open ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia has not inhibited one iota the expansion of economic ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia through the UAE, or what-have-you.
Male Speaker: (Inaudible) the mic.
Audience Member: Brilliant.
Caroline Glick: Thank you.
Audience Member: So when Trump visited, the first visit to Saudi Arabia, the most incredible image were two Jews sitting on the podium, Jared and Ivanka Kushner, for the whole of Saudi Arabia and the Arab world to see, plus the two women without head coverings, Melania and Ivanka. Now, Bibi’s new coalition is talking about opening up the temple. They want the Temple Mount open to everyone. Is this going to destroy the Abraham Accords in any way?
Evelyn Markus: Who are you asking the questions?
Audience Member: (Inaudible).
Evelyn Markus: Let’s both —
Caroline Glick: Do you want to go first?
Robert Spencer: I’m sorry, I’m not quite sure I heard everything you were asking.
Caroline Glick: She was talking about — let me just answer it and you’ll hear the question.
Robert Spencer: Yes.
Caroline Glick: All right. So the question is, we have several — in all of the four parties that are coming together to form the new government, you have a very open call for Jews to be allowed to worship at Judaism’s most sacred site, which is the Temple Mount, which is also the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque. And one of them is being specifically demonized by the Americans, by the American Jewish community and by the Biden administration, whose name is Itamar ben Gvir, who is a very far-right nationalist leader who’s a member of the religious Zionism Party. And I look at the attention that’s being paid to Itamar ben Gvir and his pledge to enable Jewish prayer on the Temple Mound as a means to undermine the Abraham Accords.
I think that what we’re seeing here is part of a ploy on the part of the Biden administration, and their allies in the American Jewish community, to undermine this incoming government, undermine the Abraham Accords, coerce Israel back into a Palestinian-centric foreign policy that makes it impossible for Israel to maintain or expand its bilateral ties with the Arab world without first bowing to the unquenchable demands of the of the Palestinians for Israel’s annihilation, at least politically. So I think that ben Gvir is being used.
Now, how this will work out depends in part on the way that he handles the attacks against him. He said something that I thought was very important after he met with President Herzog, which was that he wanted to open — he’s going to apparently take over the Ministry of Internal Security, which is responsible for the police, and that he wants to open a new branch of that Ministry for External Affairs to do outreach to undermine these efforts to discredit Jewish rights on the Temple Mount and to undermine the Abraham Accords. So this is a sort of — this is very clearly a ploy to undermine the Abraham Accords.
The UAE so far has responded to ben Gvir by saying “We don’t care that much,” and they don’t. And it’s a way to try to force them to care, to put pressure on them to care, to prioritize again, to reinstate the Palestinian veto over their ties with Israel. I don’t think it’ll work, but this is clearly an effort on the part of the Biden administration and progressive American Jewish organizations, led by the likes of J Street, to try to undermine the ability of Abraham partner countries to work together.
Evelyn Markus: Robert, your reaction?
Robert Spencer: It should be noted that the prohibition on Jews praying on the Temple Mount was a concession that Moshe Dayan granted in 1967 after the Six-Day War in order to try to keep the peace at a time when Israel was asserting sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem. And it’s really kind of ridiculous and appalling that Muslims can pray there anytime without any restrictions, and Jews can only visit during certain specified hours, and cannot pray. Even silently mouthing prayers is not allowed according to the law, and this law was recently challenged legally struck down.
Caroline Glick: It’s not a law —
Robert Spencer: What’s that?
Caroline Click: It’s not a law, it’s an existing practice.
Robert Spencer: Well, it was nonetheless adjudicated and struck down and then reinstated. And so it may be that it becomes the flash point for attacks on the Abraham Accords, that there are groups that are trying to overturn this. But at the same time, if it’s not that pretext, it’ll be another.
Caroline Glick: Um-hum.
Robert Spencer: The Jihad proceeds on the basis of grievances, real or trumped up, and if they don’t have the one, they’ll find another one. And so they will be pushing against the Abraham Accords in any way they possibly can, and if they can use this, they’ll use it; and if they can’t use it, they will use something else.
Caroline Glick: Exactly right.
Evelyn Markus: This brings us to the end of this panel discussion. The conclusion is that the Abraham Accords do have an effect on anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, especially in the Middle East, but we cannot we cannot be complacent. It’s a fine line; it’s based on short-term interests, and it can create pushback against the regimes who collaborate with Israel.
And I would like to thank first and foremost our two incredible panelists. [Applause].
Caroline Glick: Thank you.
Evelyn Markus: And I want to thank you, the audience, for being here and participating so actively. I would like to urge you to stay alert on anti-Semitism globally. Educate yourself by listening to the podcast, the weekly podcast, Never Again Is Now podcast, which is on YouTube, Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Defend the Abraham Accords wherever you can. Check out, keep checking out, your local mosque and speak up against anti-Semitism whenever you can. Thank you.