'Defenders of humanity': 'Bahraini, Emirati pro-normalisation influencers' praise Israel's 'heroic' army

'Defenders of humanity': 'Bahraini, Emirati pro-normalisation influencers' praise Israel's 'heroic' army

An interview between a popular Israeli blogger and two influential Emirati and Bahraini figures prompted fierce criticism online, after the Arabs praised Israel's military as heroic.
4 min read
21 December, 2020
The interview prompted fierce criticism online [Twitter]
Two social media influencers presenting themselves as Bahraini and Emirati figures have sparked outrage after praising Israel's army as defenders of humanity in an interview with an Israeli blogger.

The UAE's Majid Al-Sarrah, a self-styled legal adviser and expert in public policy, appeared alongside self-identified Bahraini British Amjad Taha, who presents himself as the regional head of the British Centre for Middle East Studies and Research, for a sit-down with popular Israeli blogger, Hananya Naftali. 

Previous reports suggest Taha is of Iranian Ahwazi origins later naturalised as Bahraini and British.

In a snippet of the interview posted on Twitter, the two men, who were part of a Bahraini and Emirati delegation visiting Israel following recent normalisation deals, expressed their admiration for the Israeli army - to the astonishment of the Israeli influencer.

"Are you afraid of your presence in Israel? Because Arab media says that Israel is oppressing Arabs and it is a dangerous country that it is in a continuous war," Naftali asks.

Responding to the question, Taha says: "We went to the Golan and found Israeli soldiers protecting the borders and helping Syrian refugees and children."

"Jews, Arabs and people of different sects coexist and work together in harmony within Israel," he adds.

"We must thank these soldiers for their fight against terrorism, Hezbollah, the Syrian dictator and the Iranian regime, which supports many terrorists and militias in Gaza and across the world," Taha said.

Meanwhile, Majid Al-Sarah said: "You will not see these heroic soldiers on the media or on television or cinema, but you will only see them in reality as they preserve the lives of many children and women."

Astonished by the responses, the Israeli activist intervened to ask whether they meant the Israeli army. 

"Yes, many times we met Israeli soldiers who are doing a wonderful job in saving lives in many humanitarian aspects. Humanity should thank the soldiers because they protect humanity," he affirmed.

The remarks prompted anger online with many rejecting their views on the "criminal" Israeli military.

Emirati dissident Hamid Al-Nuaimi weighed in on the topic, noting "not even America describes the Zionists as protectors of humanity".

"Even the Israelis do not describe them as such, but Zionists of the Gulf do," he adds.

Read also: EU calls for probe into killing of 13-year-old Palestinian by Israeli forces

In a tweet responding to the video, journalist Muhammad Al-Mubarak said: "Immature discourse provides the currents of political Islam and extremists an opportunity to mock peace, peace is not like this. Peace is a position," adding that some 200 Palestinian children are locked up in Israeli prisons.

Meanhile, writer Reem Al-Harami took aim at efforts of Israeli lobbies and Zionism which has been reduced to "Emirati creatures".

"The problem is we all know that they are liars and that they are fake and that everything they spew is just empty rhetoric. They are the lowest of low immorality."

Normalisation tourism boom

The UAE and Israel announced that they were normalising relations last August, amid condemnation from Palestinians, who pointed out that the UAE was offering normal diplomatic and cultural ties to Israel, while Israel was illegally occupying Palestinian land in the West Bank and besieging the Gaza Strip.

Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco also followed suit in the months that followed, under heavy pressure from outgoing US President Donald Trump’s administration.

Public opinion surveys in the Arab world have shown overwhelming popular disapproval of the normalisation deals.

On Sunday, a report said Israelis have caused a remarkable tourism boom in the UAE, with over 50,000 visiting from Tel Aviv since the two countries signed a normalisation agreement.

Read also: Family recounts Palestinian teen's last hours before Israeli shooting

Tens of thousands of tourists flew to the Emirates from the Jewish state, while Israeli authorities expected over 70,000 to arrive during the eight days of Hanukkah, The Washington Post reported.

The UAE launched tourist visas for Israeli citizens earlier in December after the two countries normalised relations in September and began talks on mutual tourism opportunities.

Tour companies in the two countries are reportedly holding Zoom courses to educate each other on customs and etiquette.

According to The Washington Post, a Jewish community centre also has a contract with Abu Dhabi tourism officials to train and certify nearly 150 hotel kitchens to become kosher-compliant.

Israeli tourists in the Gulf told the paper they felt "welcome" in the region for the first time. 

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This article has been updated to reflect Mr Amjad Taha is reportedly of Iranian Ahwazi origins.