Could another moderate Gulf Arab country be inching closer to joining the Abraham Accords?
A surprising editorial over the weekend in the Kuwait-based newspaper, the Arab Times, called for just that.
“Normalize, Let Insulters Fend For Themselves,” reads the eye-catching headline.
What makes it particularly noteworthy is that it comes just days after a Kuwaiti poet published a column blasting anti-Semitism in her country.
Calling for compassion and coexistence towards Israel and the Jewish people, she wrote: “There is no justified reason for the prejudice against Jews. And there is no other time but now to wake up from this stupor of separation. Now.”
“Let’s take the wait out of Kuwait.”
The timing of both is intriguing, coming just as Israeli President Isaac Herzog and the first lady make history today, flying to the United Arab Emirates to meet with crown prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto ruler of the UAE Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (MBZ) on Israel’s first-ever presidential state visit.
It’s also intriguing since just last year, the Israel-based Moshe Dayan Center For Middle Eastern and African studies published an analysis concluding, “Kuwait does not seem ripe for decision on the highly sensitive issue of normalization,” adding, “it is the Gulf state least expected to normalize relations with Israel.”
Why? The study argued that this is in no small part because of the huge Palestinian diaspora population living and working in Kuwait.
“Unlike its GCC partners, the Emirate of Kuwait has remained firmly wedded to its traditional position, rejecting normalization with Israel,” the study noted. “The Palestinian question has been a key issue in the Emirate ever since Yasser Arafat founded Fatah there in 1959. A Palestinian community estimated at 450,000 – only slightly smaller than the local Kuwaiti population – resided there until the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.”
That said, before leaving office, then-U.S. President Donald Trump predicted Kuwait would join the Abraham Accords before long.
ANGER AT THE PALESTINIANS
“Why are we the ones being insulted by the Palestinians?” asks the Kuwaiti editorial. “When they are happy, they curse the Gulf leaders and people. When they are angry, they use all of the defamatory and abusive words in their dictionary against us.”
Ahmed Al-Jarallah, editor-in-chief of the Arab Times, then lists one grievance after another against the Palestinian leadership.
“Despite their support of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and their participation in acts of intimidation, abuse and killing against Kuwaiti citizens, the Gulf nationals especially Kuwaitis continued to support the Palestinians and their resistance factions. They supported the late Jamal Abdul Nasser against us. They stood with Gaddafi when he hurled everything he had on the leaders of the Gulf. Their derision even reached the point that they wrote the names of the kings and princes of the Gulf countries on animals and marched with them at the forefront of their demonstrations.”
All of this, Al-Jarallah wrote, “is just the tip of the iceberg of what the Gulf states and their people offered to the Palestinians, who were and still are ungrateful.”
His list continued.
“[The Palestinian leadership] stood with the Iranian Houthi aggressor against Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. They slandered and cursed the leaders and governments of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries because they did not mourn the assassination of the head of the terrorist snake Qassem Soleimani. Didn’t Mahmoud al-Zahar refer (to) our people as homosexuals for this reason, and Ismail Haniyeh launched an attack on them during which he used extremely vulgar talk against us in his eulogy?”
“Is Palestine still our cause for which we bear all this harm caused by the Palestinians?” he asked.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH – TIME TO NORMALIZE WITH ISRAEL
“[I]t is time to put an end to all this by starting with cutting support from them, and without ending with mediation whenever one of them throws a missile at Israel. In this case, let them rebuild what they destroy by their own acts,” the editorial argued.
“Enough is enough! The camel’s back has been broken from the burden of grief we endure due to the ingratitude of the Palestinians. They have been encouraging terrorism against us, issuing calls to kill us, and raising slogans such as ‘The path of liberation passes through Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Manama, Riyadh and Doha,’ while they are trying to lose the bearing.”
His conclusion: “All the Gulf states should normalize relations with Israel due to the fact that peace with this most advanced country is the right thing to do. Let the foolish fend for themselves.”
The Jerusalem Post was the first Israeli publication to take note of the Kuwaiti editorial.
THE COURAGEOUS KUWAITI POET
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) was the first Israeli site to note the column by the courageous Kuwaiti poet.
“In a January 17, 2022 article on the English-language website Fanack.com, Kuwaiti writer and poet Nejoud Al-Yagout notes that, when, in December 2021, the U.S. embassy in Kuwait wished the local Jews a happy Hanukkah, many Kuwaitis responded with fury,” reported MEMRI.
She argued that “they used the incident not just to troll the ambassador, but to express hatred for any and all Jews.”
“Al-Yagout asked where ‘this cringe-worthy fear’ towards Jews comes from, and why Kuwaitis are not ashamed of it, given that their country prides itself on tolerance and coexistence. She notes that this antagonism has caused most of Kuwait’s Jews to emigrate, and the few who remain to hide their identity, which, she says, is a great loss for the country.”
“The time has come to set aside fear,” she wrote. “One can continue to support Palestine without hating Jews. Many Palestinians themselves coexist with Jews. And many Jews support Palestine. One can embrace Jews without having a political agenda. This can arise when we are no longer proud of wearing hatred as a badge of honor.”
“Besides beneath rubbles left behind by bombs, violence, and antagonism, where has hatred gotten us?” Al-Yagout asked.
“Let this desire to be a more open and welcoming society not be a pipe dream. It is our responsibility, each one of us, to become ambassadors of humanity, beyond our belief systems, beyond our political inclinations.”