Is Saudi attempting to normalize Israel through television?

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: In one scene in Saudi drama ‘Exit Seven’ a character launches into a passionate defence of Israel, in which he implies Palestinians are ungrateful.

Saudi Arabia is facing accusations of trying to normalise its alliance with Israel through Ramadan TV serials.

In one scene in the government-owned MBC produced drama Makhraj Seven (Exit Seven), two characters are seen debating the merits of the country’s burgeoning ties with Israel.

Responding to criticism of Israel by the first actor, the second character responds: “Saudi Arabia did not gain anything when it supported Palestinians, and must now establish relations with Israel.”

Then in a thinly veiled jab at the Palestinians, the character says: “The real enemy is the one who curses you, denies your sacrifices and support, and curses you day and night more than the Israelis.”

The scene caused outrage on social media among Palestinian rights acitivists but was fiecely defended by Saudi trolls and bots. Most saw it as part of a broader campaign to vilify Palestinians and rehabilitate Israel as part of warming ties between it and Gulf states.

Though they have not formally recognised Israel, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have made little attempt to disguise a clandestine alliance between them and the Israeli state.

Analysts say that the countries have come together over common enemies, such as Iran and over shared fears of the democratic uprisings that have taken place in the Arab world since 2011.

One Twitter user explained the possible motivation for the coverage of Palestinians in the MBC drama: “Behind these messages that we think are ridiculous and reprehensible for all Arabs is a media and cultural project headed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to normalise Israel.”

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also been supporters of US President Donald Trump’s attempts to secure a ‘deal of the century’ agreement between Palestinians and the Israelis.

While popular among the Republican right and Israelis, the deal is criticised by Palestinians for effectively taking a Palestinian state off the table and handing over large resource-rich parts of the occupied West Bank to Israel.

Sympathy for the Palestinians

The plight of the Palestinian people is one of the biggest reasons for negative perceptions of Israel within the Arab world.

Since 1967, millions of Palestinians have lived under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.

The capital of their proposed state in East Jerusalem, has also been unilaterally annexed by the Israelis.

In Gaza, close to two million people live under a blockade that rest-ricts physical movement, as well as the import and export of goods, leaving the territory perennially close to humanitarian disaster.

Israel also regularly uses lethal force against protesters, which have resulted in hundreds of deaths over the past two years, as well as debilitating wounds. (TRT WORLD)