It is a reprehensible and, frankly, depressing sign of our times that the knuckleheads in Norway who choose the annual winner of the once highly-prestigious award refused to choose the Arab, Israeli and American architects who brokered the historic Abraham Accords peace and normalization agreements with one another.

Instead, last month the committee gave the award to two journalists fighting oppression and government corruption.


I’m all for such journalism, especially from a brave married couple.

But how does their work – important and laudatory as it may be – rise higher than world leaders actually signing the first Arab-Israel peace deal in a quarter of a century?

The answer: petty, perverted politics.

The committee, apparently, could not stomach the notion of granting the award to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Both, after all, are considered not only evil but persona non grata in the snobby, elitist salons of European socialism.

Yet, by unjustly snubbing American and Israeli men that they despise even though they are truly unexpected peacemakers, the committee also snubbed two Arab Muslim leaders who are equally bold, courageous and unconventional peacemakers:

  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince and de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, widely known as “MBZ,” and
  • Sheikh Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the king of Bahrain

The committee has thus cheapened – and, in my view, forever devalued – the once illustrious Nobel Peace Prize.

But it has not – and cannot – cheapen or devalue the actual accomplishments that each of these men have made to advancing peace, security and religious tolerance in the Middle East.

Fortunately, on Nov. 18, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy – the foremost American public policy think tank focused on our region — moved to rectify part of this ridiculous folly.

They held a gala dinner in Manhattan and gave its highest award, “The Scholar-Statesman Award,” to one of these bold peacemakers – MBZ.

Urgent affairs of state prevented the Emirati from traveling to the U.S. to attend the gala, so Robert Satloff – the Institute’s executive director – flew to Abu Dhabi to present the award and conduct a rare interview with the crown prince on why he became the first Arab leader to say yes to the Abraham Accords.

“This is an important decision for many reasons,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “First, [we did it] for the Palestinians themselves.”


Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan receives The Scholar-Statesman Award from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (Photo: Screenshot from a Washington Institute for Near East Policy video)


MBZ and his team are proud that the Accords prevented Israel from annexing parts of the West Bank, and believe their decision helps create a warmer regional environment for Palestinians and Israelis to be able to normalize relations, hopefully sooner than later.

“Second, [we did it] to send a clear message to the world and the region that we are striving for peace,” MBZ added.

That is, to encourage more Arab nations to follow the UAE’s lead.

So far, so good – Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan have followed.

Could the Saudis be next? What about Oman? Others, too?

“Third, it is a mission that we have inherited from our founder, the late Sheikh Zayed, God rest his soul,” MBZ noted, speaking of his late father.

“He was a man of peace and compassion, since the days of the UAE’s inception. That is his vision, and we are committed to this path.”

As Satloff commended MBZ, he pressed him as to why the Emirati was willing to break the quarter-century-long impasse and take such a risk to make peace with Israel, especially given such hostility from the regime in Tehran, and opposition from radical Islamists ranging from Hamas to Hezbollah to al Qaeda and ISIS.

“Every decision has risks, undoubtedly,” the crown prince replied.

“We are living in a complex region. But the rewards are an incentive, and the outcomes we will achieve together are far greater than the drawbacks.”

“When we decided on this step, we were looking forward to a level of cooperation that goes beyond just peace itself,” he said. “The UAE aspires to a greater peace, one that is for the benefit of all.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog praised MBZ in a congratulatory video shown at the gala.

“The Abraham Accords and the steps taken by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to welcome members of all Abrahamic faiths to the UAE represent a historic turning point for our region, one which will lead to a brighter and more peaceful future, for all nations and peoples of the Middle East,” Herzog said.

“It is a complete sea change, and I commend and congratulate all those who took part in bringing through the Abraham Accords.”

A statement by the Institute noted that over the past 15 years, the Scholar-Statesman Award has previously honored leaders in the United States and abroad such as “King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of JordanIsraeli President Reuven RivlinU.S. President Bill ClintonPrime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, and secretaries of state Condoleezza RiceHenry Kissinger, and George Shultz.”

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