This headline may seem like it has come in the End of Days. Yes – an Arab country has congratulated Israel’s Prime Minister for his nomination to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In truth, the leadership of the Arab country, the United Arab Emirates, also deserves it. But, for internal reasons within their country, they may not want it. The last time an Arab leader of a country made peace with Israel, it was King Hussein of Jordan. It was done with relatively little fanfare. Nothing then happened to King Hussein. But prior to that, Anwar Sadat came to Israel, spoke in the Knesset, and made peace with Israel in a very public way. The story dominated the airwaves of all of the news channels for many months. Anwar Sadat was assassinated within a few years afterwards.
It takes a lot of courage for an Arab country to make peace with Israel. For many decades, the anti-Israel rhetoric has become somewhat second-nature when discussing the State of Israel. But Israel’s economic and military strength have convinced enough of it’s intractable fores, that perhaps it’s time to put their swords down. The incentives for economic prosperity are too overwhelming for moderate Arab countries like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. They understand that the main threat they have is Iran and radicalized Islam within their midst. By strengthening their economies and warming up to the West and Israel, they open up their economies to even more growth. More importantly, they strengthen the movement to isolate Iran as the powerful bully in the region that everyone is united against. Bahrain and the UAE look at Syria, and they see how Iran has wreaked total havoc there in order to centralize it’s hold on Syria. They see how Lebanon has basically been a mess for decades, with Iranian backed militias basically setting up a country within the country.
It is a wise choice for the moderate,yet wealthy Arab countries to switch to the Western side – at least on the economic level. They have not shed their Muslim religion – at least not publicly – and they are able to straddle their connection with the West with their business ties to the Soviet Union, China, and other major economies. But, the main point is they have shed their focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict as a central issue in their foreign policy. The Middle East has indeed become a much more peaceful oasis in what has historically been one of the most conflict filled areas in the world. If Benjamin Netanyahu does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, who does?