Those who think that Jews and Muslims have always lived in constant conflict and mutual hostility throughout history are mistaken. One can find many examples of cooperation and mutual assistance between them. In fact, a rabbi was a famous part of early Muslim history! The Muslim “oral law” (Hadith) tells of this Rabbi Mukhayriq, a wealthy Jew from Banu Nadir who lived near Medina, in what is now Saudi Arabia, during the time of Mohammed.
A rabbi defended Mohammed!
In an agreement between the heads of the Jewish tribe and Mohammed, the tribe committed to fight alongside Islam’s founder if he was attacked. Indeed, one Shabbat morning, the Quraysh tribe [Mohammed’s enemies] started the Battle of Uhud. Rabbi Mukhayriq called on the Judaic tribe to honor the agreement and assist the “Prophet” Mohammed as agreed upon, but the Jews hesitated on the grounds that it was a Sabbath. Rabbi Mukhayriq was furious with them and fought alone alongside Mohammed, ordering that all his property be transferred to Mohammed if he died. And so it was. Rabbi Mukhayriq was killed in battle, and Mohammed inherited his property. When the “Prophet” learned of Mukhayriq ‘s death, he praised the rabbi’s courage and nobility saying, “He was one of the best Jews.” Rabbi Mukhayriq became a hero in Muslim history, remembered as someone loyal to Mohammed – a noble, brave and decent man.
The Jew fighting in the diplomatic arena to resolve conflict among Arab Muslims
Today you don’t find Jews fighting alongside Arabs to defend Islam. Yet there is one Jew fighting in the diplomatic arena to resolve conflict among Arab Muslims. He is Jared Kushner, son-in-law of outgoing US President Donald Trump. As the US President’s envoy and adviser, he has ushered in four peace agreements – between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. These agreements will benefit the Arabs and Jews alike.
In addition, through his mediation efforts, Kushner, a 40-year-old modern Orthodox Jew, was able to bring reconciliation in a long and ongoing conflict [almost 4 years] between Qatar and Saudi Arabia (plus three other countries) in the Qatari Crisis.
Crisis in the Gulf
The Qatari Diplomatic Crisis began in June 2017. It was a sophisticated plan to isolate Qatar politically and economically, in order to bring it to a breaking point and force it to succumb to the demands of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE. [In the Arab media they were called the Quartet, or Siege countries]. These severed diplomatic relations with Qatar. In addition, the countries blocked access to their airspace for Qatar. Saudi Arabia even closed the “Sloa Pass” border-crossing with Qatar, which serves as the only land crossing that Qatar has with any country. (Qatar is a peninsula.)
Many factors lead to this crisis. Among them was Qatari funding for Muslim Brotherhood elements, which agitate against Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Another was the Al-Jazeera TV network, which undermines stability in other Arab countries. The leaders of the quartet have not forgotten how the Qatari-based Al-Jazeera encouraged the crowds to take to the streets as part of what was called the “Arab Spring.” The Qataris, for their part, claim that everything stems from envy of Qatar’s success, including its having been chosen to host the 2022 World Cup and other achievements over the last 10 years.
News reports have recently surfaced indicating that Saudi Arabia had planned to invade Qatar, but was dissuaded at the last minute by heavy American pressure
The siege countries set 13 conditions for lifting the siege and normalizing relations. These include the cessation of terrorist financing and the closure of Al-Jazeera. Qatar did not buckle, and even turned to Turkey and Iran, which provided logistical assistance. In return, Qatar invested billions of dollars in Turkey and Iran. Even Al-Jazeera, which has typically been critical of Iran, changed its tune and praised Qassem Soleimani, the top Iranian general assassinated last year by US forces.
Succeeding where others failed
Back to Kushner, the Jew who succeeded where many before him had failed. For more than three years, Kuwait and many others have been trying to bridge the gap between the Saudis and the Qataris in order to find a way to reconciliation. But the disputes between the two countries have been too great. The Khashoggi affair widened the gap between them. Al-Jazeera funded dozens of journalists and many investigations to damage the image of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the main culprit in the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In any case, American diplomacy with the pressures exerted by President Trump and Kushner’s efforts, have recently led to reconciliation between the two young leaders of Qatar and Saudi Arabia – Tamim Althani and Mohammed bin Salman.
A few days ago, the Saudi Crown Prince opened the annual summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council in northwestern Saudi Arabia and called for a unified stance against Iran: ”Today we desperately need a united effort to develop our council and address the challenges we face.” Before the summit opened, Bin Salman received the Emir of Qatar at the airport. The two leaders embraced and appeared to have reconciled, with no discernable trace of the long crisis between them.
“Welcome! Welcome! You’ve illuminated the Kingdom”: Raw footage of the first few words exchanged between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Qatar’s Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani after landing in the kingdom. #GCCSummit41 pic.twitter.com/W9o0kz7Oxg
— Doha News (@dohanews) January 5, 2021
Will Egypt, the Emirates and Bahrain join the Saudis? Will Qatar make concessions and stop funding and hosting the Muslim Brotherhood? What is certain is that the Saudi siege was lifted and the land crossing was opened for the Qataris. The Saudis hope that Qatari connections with Turkey and Iran will decrease.
This Gulf summit may yet be remembered as one of reconciliation paving the way for peace with the three additional countries, but the details of the agreement are still unclear. One condition is that Qatar waive the lawsuit against Saudi Arabia for damages caused by the siege. Only the future will tell whether this is a genuine reconciliation, but it is clear that the media attacks from both sides have greatly diminished and the wars on social networks have almost disappeared.
Rabbi Mukhayriq was a hero to the Muslims. What Kushner, a fellow Jew, did this year also makes him a hero. He did not sacrifice himself to die in a bloody war, but he has helped the Islamic world by making peace between Muslims when they failed. He did what no Muslim could do. Kushner won the diplomatic campaign and defeated the inflated egos of two irresponsible Muslim leaders, who caused immense damage to their people.
Sometimes the Jewish people are a light to the Gentiles.