I grew up in Dubai, one of the United Arab Emirates. From 1980-1990, my family lived in an ungated community in the middle of the city dow the street from the Iranian Hospital with the Jumeirah American School just one long block up the road. We walked to school every day.
The school changed its name to the American School of Dubai the year after I graduated. It moved locations. The current school at the old location is the Jumeirah Baccalaureate School. My old house is all that remains of my neighborhood. The whole place got leveled and rebuilt, except my house on the corner at 27 Sheikh Rashid Villas, which is now #39 on 32b Street, Dubai, UAE. The only reason my house remained is it became a doctor’s office some time after we moved home in the run up to the first Gulf War.
Growing up, our history and geography textbooks all had pages missing or redacted. Anything that referenced Israel got taken out by censors. Maps of the Eastern Mediterranean had Israel either relabeled as Palestine or simply scribbled out with black sharpie.
In ninth grade, my class went to Greece. At the base of the Acropolis is the Athens Agora. I remember a bunch of flags and our teacher pointing one out that was white with blue stripes and a blue star. None of knew it was the Israeli flag. That flag had either been cut out or redacted from our textbooks. The World Book Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Brittanica had pages misses and redacted in the library. Phone calls could not connect from Israel to the UAE. It was as if they were no phone lines between the two. We could not travel to Israel and I have still never been to Israel. Going to Israel would have meant we could not enter the UAE with an Israeli passport stamp in our passports.
It is of monumental importance that the UAE and Israel now are extending diplomatic relations to each other, recognizing each other, engaging in commerce with each other, and letting information and phone calls flow between the nations. Bahrain and Oman were similarly situated and they too will recognize Israel.
This is a huge win for the Trump Administration. There is a credible argument that the nations were induced into acting together because they fear the United States will not help them in a skirmish with Iran. But the Trump Administration did play a role in brokering this deal and the President does deserve credit.
If Barack Obama deserved the peace prize merely for showing up. Donald Trump has exceeded that standard here. And yes, Barack Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize merely for showing up.
Yesterday, after the historic meeting of the nations at the White House, most of the American media downplayed it. Check out the placement of the story at these news sites.
Here is CNN:
Here is the New York Times:
Here is the Los Angeles Times:
Here is USA Today:
Only the BBC and Washington Post featured the historic moment as their lead stories in the hours after the meeting.
Blue checkmarks on Twitter for various sites parrotted each other in dismissing the historic event because Israel, Bahrain, and the UAE have never actually been physically at war with each other.
That became the line.
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrumpAfter decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East. Congratulations to the people of Israel, the people of the United Arab Emirates, and the people of the Kingdom of Bahrain. God Bless You All! https://t.co/gpeqFDtr0S
NYT Politics @nytpoliticsBahrain will normalize relations with Israel, following the U.A.E., in another sign of dynamics that are bringing Arab nations closer to Israel https://t.co/d98BAA5Vje
TOI ALERTS @TOIAlertsLive update: Israel to sign ‘peace treaty’ with UAE, but ‘peace declaration’ with Bahrain https://t.co/j5Qo0hqmtA
This is all an attempt to downplay and minimize a very significant and historic event. It shows an ignorance of how the Arab nations have treated Israel, including redacting Israel from textbooks, barring travel between the nations, refusing aviation flyovers, and blocking telecommunications channels.
It also reinforces just how wrong so many people have been about Israeli and Arab nations.
Remember, moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would spark a war. Various pundits and most experts claimed as much, including former Secretary of State John F. Kerry.
They were wrong.
This is an enormous deal and President Trump and Jared Kushner do both deserve some credit — credit much of the media would prefer they not have so they will ignore the story.