Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

Does anyone in the Arab world know what is happening in Israel? Do we know what weapons systems their defense forces are acquiring or developing? Do we know who is who in the Israeli policymaking circles?

The answer to the above questions is: We don’t know. Yes, we really don’t because at present, we don’t see or hear much about Israel in the Arab media. Israel has almost disappeared from headlines and many people no longer consider Israel as a threat. This is a reality that we have to learn to live with.

he day the so-called Arab Spring erupted, Israel became invisible in the Arab media. Arabs are too preoccupied with so many issues plaguing their own lands. Today, we don’t read much about Israel in the newspapers or see any reports about the Middle Eastern country in the electronic media. This is not a case of sudden disappearance. From referring to Israel as the Zionist enemy, the Arab media changed the tone by calling it the Israeli enemy, then we became aware of the term “hostile Israel” and then it was referred to as state of Israel and now Israel has simply vanished from the Arab media. It appears to be no longer on our radar.

In the past few decades, we only heard about one enemy of the Arab world — Israel. Ironically, more wars have taken place between Arab countries than between Israel and Arabs. As a matter of fact, wars between the Arab world and Israel are considered less severe compared to wars between the Arab countries and clashes within some Arab countries. The major Arab-Israeli conflicts took place in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and this doesn’t include minor conflicts and battles such as the clashes in southern Lebanon. But, overall, the wars were clear, people knew who was who in the battlefield and the casualties were not as high as people would see in other wars. In addition to that the wars were brief. And please don’t get me wrong, I hate wars and the loss of one life does matters. That is, however, a different issue.

The question remains, why has Israel disappeared from our media? Even it is no longer part of our living room discussions. Could the answer be that the Arab world has its hands full with internal issues or is it something else?

It is true that the Arab world has its hands full with other issues but there could be another reason for that. Simply put, some of the Arab leaders used the Palestinian issue just to portray themselves as heroes. Ironically, Israel is the one that invented many fake heroes and dictators in the Arab world. Just look at Lebanon’s Hassan Nasrallah who hijacked and destroyed Lebanon initially using anti-Israel propaganda. Similarly, we have seen Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Syria’s Hafez Assad and many others who became instant heroes because they showed hostility toward Israel. They also (mis)used the Palestinian misery and in due process they simply forgot to build their countries and neglected improving the living standards of their people.

Now the Arab media is drawing comparisons between the devastation caused during wars with Israel and the current regional scenario particularly the events taking place in Syria — a country whose own people are bent on its destruction. People are asking as to why during full-scale wars with Israel, we never saw destruction of archeological, historical or religious sites. In the past, we talked about Palestinian refugees, now we are dealing with a new wave of refugees emanating from Syria and other parts of the region. The Arab media now has no time or space to talk about Israel and to raise the issue of Palestine or Palestinians.

And let us not forget Iran, which is not an Arab country, but it is also silent about Israel. A few years ago, they wanted to wipe Israel out from the map but now there is no mention of Israel in the Iranian media. Perhaps, due to the fact that Saudi Arabia has replaced Israel as Iran’s number one enemy.

Instead of reading about Israel, Arabs want to discuss ways to promote better education, improved health-care facilities, social equality and better infrastructure.

At the end of the day, no matter what we write about Israel, the Israelis don’t care. They know we are busy.

Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Israel’s Disappearance From Arab Media Scene reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.