Those who commended the publishing of adverts in Israeli newspapers promoting the Arab Peace initiative were right to do so as it constituted an important step even if it was only a paid advert. Addressing Israeli society directly and bypassing Israel’s political class are important matters.
If people criticize the Palestinian Authority [PA] for taking such action, considering it the normalizing of ties, then it is simply because this step was successful and confusing, as it handed the reigns back to the initiative and this is what is most important.
According to the definition of normalization used by Iran and its Arab lobby including figures such as Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Fahmi Huwaidi who considered the Saudi Interfaith Dialogue normalization of ties and who defends Hamas, Iran and Syria just like the Iranian press that is calling for its leadership to take a decisive diplomatic stand against all those who attend the Interfaith Dialogue Conference − then this means that they are all for normalization!
Do you know why? What about the articles by Ismail Haniyeh’s political advisor Dr. Ahmed Yusuf published in the Israeli press and his television appearances? What about the Hamas-Israel truce? Did coordination for a truce take place out of the blue?
Do you know what else is funny? In spite of all of Iran and Hezbollah’s complaints about the Interfaith Dialogue, the Iranian delegate attended the conference in New York and also delivered a speech just like all the other delegations!
What about the Syrian presidential advisor Bouthaina Shaaban’s recent statement in which she said that indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel began in the correct manner and showed elements of success?
Therefore, the confused reactions of those who claim that the adverts were tantamount to the normalization of ties demonstrated that the Palestinian advert in the Israeli press promoting the Arab Initiative was in fact a good idea.
But what about the Israelis?
A spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry stated that these adverts represented an important step and demonstrated the democracy of Israel. She wondered, “Would we be able to publish our comments in the Arab press for example?”
This is confusing because if democracy is measured this way then that would mean that Hezbollah, which owns Al Manar television channel and the affiliated website, and gossip newspapers that are pro-Hezbollah, is more democratic than Israel since the media of this Iranian-affiliated party does not miss anything that comes out of Israel or Israeli media. Rather, it resorts to websites through which it publishes comments that it claims were made by Israelis that in fact were not, and there is evidence of this.
Most Arab media, both written and visual, especially the most prominent media institutions, publish interviews with− and articles about− Israeli officials. The importance lies in that the Israeli reactions, and the attacks on the PA for publishing these adverts, constitute a positive issue.
The problem for our region and our leaders, and the legitimate Palestinian leadership in particular, is that it lost the initiative a long time ago and even if it seeks to take one step, it will not complete it.
Today, with the momentum of the two initiatives, for Peace and for Interfaith Dialogue, presented by Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, it is now the Arabs who must take action as it is their cause. Action is one thousand times more effective than empty slogans.