Deconstructing the Israel-UAE Breakthrough

The breakthrough peace agreement, brokered by the USA, should not be seen as just another Arab country joining the circle of those who already recognize Israel.

L-R: Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: REUTERS)
L-R: Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Last Thursday’s announcement of Israel’s historic diplomatic breakthrough in establishing relations with the United Arab Emirates was dramatically timed to lead off the day’s prime-time news broadcast.
Within minutes my WhatsApp and other social media groups, which feature prominent American Israel-philes, were buzzing with requests for details, background and “what this really means.”
One group, led by a dynamic Hollywood producer, asked for my immediate take. Usually I prefer to wait while gathering links with insightful commentaries from mavens like news analysts, think-tank gurus, buddies who served as national security advisers, etc. But our friends needed something immediate, to share with other opinion-shapers who’d be calling them, so I dictated the following message into my iPhone and pressed “Send” to the group, before Yonit Levy even moved on to the rest of the evening news:
Dear Mickey (not real name),
The (UAE) announcement here definitely did not cut into the Dodgers-Padres game by you, and with most Americans naturally focused on your own issues, like Kamala and the COVID (BTW not a bad name for a rock band), it most certainly will not be recognized for the game-changer it is.
I’ll soon forward additional observations along with official government releases. The MFA and PMO always have tasty bite-sized texts they’ve prepared in advance, ready to serve like so many McDonald’s Quarter-Pounders.
The breakthrough peace agreement, brokered by the USA, should not be seen as just another Arab country joining the circle of those who already recognize Israel.
Without belittling the huge importance of peace with Egypt and Jordan, those agreements were focused on ending hostilities between Israel and enemies that had gone to war against it numerous times over the previous 40-50 years.
These landmark achievements have proven effective in maintaining peace and stability. Note that Israel has not had to deal with a major conflict with Egypt or Jordan in the last 40 years, even as it continues to fight bitter battles on its northern front and against terrorists in Gaza, which geographically is an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv (traffic permitting).
All this comes in the shadow of an existential threat coming from Iran, which openly proclaims its desire to achieve a nuclear capability and to wipe the Jewish state off the face of the Earth.
The real meaning of peaceful relations with the UAE is the promise of Israel’s acceptance, not only by the first of many moderate Arab states but among forward-thinking leaders of the region who recognize Israel’s strategic importance to those who also face insatiable (not to be dismissed as wacko) Shi’ite dreams that threaten them as well.
The Iranian threat is not only to Israel but to the rival nations in the area over which it seeks hegemony. It seeks to exert/extend their influence in the region, which only begins with their becoming a nuclear power and developing long-range delivery systems that pose a threat to other countries.
I AM ALWAYS quick to remind friends that Israel is only the “Little Satan” and the United States is the “Big Satan” in the eyes of the ayatollahs. Their sought-after nuclear umbrella is simply a way for them to utilize other means such as terrorism and the power that their Persian Gulf oil gives them.
Ironically, Iran is the perfect antithesis of the UAE. By denying human rights and preventing the economic growth of its citizens, its leaders have oppressed their own people, setting back one of the most enlightened cultures of the world and crippling a blossoming middle-class and academic intelligentsia.
Thus the Emirates, Saudi Arabia and others face not only an immediate security threat from Iran but also the danger of its backward ideologies enslaving people’s minds.
Hence, the enormous promise of linking Israel and the UAE: two countries characterized by PM Netanyahu in his press conference as “intent on making the desert bloom.”
The UAE sees the enormous benefit not only to its own people but to the entire planet; not simply by calling an end to hostilities but to taking full advantage of Israel’s start-up nation capability in hi-tech, water, medicine, etc., especially at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the world of the supreme importance of Israel’s cutting-edge contributions in the medical field.
To be clear, the peace with Egypt and Jordan continues to serve its purpose. Yet relations between each of these two countries and Israel have never blossomed beyond a “cold peace” and have not led to realizing the potential for bilateral or regional economic growth, which in turn would provide prosperity and stability to these countries.
Think of those agreements as pulling a thorn out of the paw of a lion. He may no longer be poised to attack, but in a heartbeat he’s capable of threatening to break relations. So I’d think twice before recommending anybody lay down with him, especially if they’re a lamb. And all it takes is for someone to sneeze on the Temple Mount and our people in Jerusalem have to worry about the Jordanians recalling their ambassador.
The UAE is a completely different story. Their leaders want to build a better future based on the precious intellectual property that Israel can provide.
The late president Shimon Peres used to say that people misunderstood the nature of the conflict: It’s not about territories, or Israel vs. Arabs, or Islam against the Jews; it is about leaders in the Islamic world who want to turn back the clock five centuries as opposed to those who are focused on the 21st and 22nd centuries.
Those who look to the future will win. The UAE is correctly positioning itself to take advantage of Israel’s enormous potential to help them reach their goals. Others will follow.
Lt. Colonel (reserve) Danny Grossman is a strategic consultant for defense and diplomatic matters, having served as a career fighter pilot for the US and Israeli air forces and as Israel Director for the American Jewish Congress.