From Saudi, a tribute to the state of Israel

By Tazpit News Agency, March 1, 2013

London-based pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat has come up with a surprising take on the Holy Land.

Dr Amal Al-Hazzani, an assistant professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, described the recent Israeli elections “as something of an exception in the Middle East” in an article titled “The Israel We Do Not Know”.

Ms Al-Hazzani wrote admiringly of Yesh Atid’s unexpected success and party leader Yair Lapid’s focus on social equality and education.

The article said that Israel had “changed” since its major wars, and that there is “an emerging generation that harbours dreams and expectations different to those cherished by a leader like Netanyahu,” and that they are “inclined towards civil interests, a love for life, and decent living standards.” She also wrote that Arab youths are not aware that there exists in Israel, youths who “strongly believe that Israel’s stability is conditional upon its coexistence with the Arabs.”

While the author used terms such as “oppressive”, “invasive” and “occupying state” to describe Israel, she emphasised the country’s democratic credentials.

In response to her article, Ms Al Hazzani was inundated with hate mail, to which she responded with another article, entitled “Know Your Enemy”. In it, she wrote: “The Arabs have been preoccupied with rage and blind hatred since 1967. During this time, Israel has managed to build eight public universities and 200 museums that receive nearly four million tourists a year. It has also become a rival to the US in the programming and software industry.”

Last updated: 1:45pm, March 1 2013