Israel President Isaac Herzog’s visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday provoked a wide range of reactions in the Arab world. Many were thrilled, some were angry, and not a few considered it an undeserved “gift to Israel” and a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause.
In a statement to Israel Today, the Emirati League Against Normalization called the visit “one more step toward the State of Israel, which comes at the cost of abandoning the Palestinian cause and betraying its people.”
The group went on to accuse Herzog of having “a track record of crimes against the Palestinians, in addition to the desecration of the Holy Land and the Judaization of its neighborhoods.”
Iraqi activist Talal Al-Hariri was of the opposite opinion. He told Israel Today: “I wish that I was an Emirati. I dream of normalization between Iraq and Israel, which will bring peace, an end to conflict and great benefits to the State of Iraq.”
Another opponent of normalization from Dubai wrote to us: “This visit can be added to the list of shame. Herzog’s presence in the Emirates constitutes a major scandal for the authorities in the country.”
On Twitter activist Ahmed Al-Shaiba Al-Nuaimi lamented: “Oh Allah, we exonerate you from those who desecrated the land of the Emirates by inviting the criminals who kill our brothers in Palestine and desecrate Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (..) Oh Allah, we entrust you with the UAE land and people. You give the unjust criminals authority over them.”
On the other hand, Safouk Al-Sheikh, a Syrian activist residing in Greece, says: “The UAE has been wise in its policies and alliances, and this has led to the advancement of the UAE economy. But Syria, which chose hostility with Israel, has been led down a path of destruction. I dream of the day that we will see a historic peace between Syria and Israel, similar to what the UAE and other Arab countries have now done.”
The Coordination of Anti-Zionism and Resistance to Normalization in UAE told Israel Today that the fact Herzog’s plane flew through Saudi airspace en route to the UAE, and that the pilot pointed this out as “historic,” was a new level of betrayal. Emirati activist Abdullah Al-Taweel added that his country was now in a “free fall into the abyss,” and accused the UAE regime of trying to “integrate Zionism into the Arab world.”
But Hamad Al-Mazrouei, another Emirate activist, told us that like Israelis, he and many of his countrymen saw Herzog’s visit as “historic.” He added that “the UAE is a second home to Israelis, and it will not be long before Saudi Arabia normalizes relations with Israel, too.”
The visit of the President of Israel to the UAE comes at a time of rising regional tension, with world powers trying to revive the nuclear agreement with Iran, even as it continues to threaten Israel.
In relation to this threat, and putting it on the same side as Israel, the UAE recently suffered missile and drone attacks perpetrated by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen.