DUBAI:In a time of crisis, Saudi Arabia has begun making advances towards Israel. More than that,the Saudi official daily Arab News has published an article supporting the new found Saudi love for Israel, written by Ronald Lauder, President of World Jewish Congress.He terms the development as,”a quiet revolution”.
In sharp contrast to too many other channels, the Saudi satellite network MBC has challenged old taboos with a surprisingly positive depiction of Jews. “Um Haroun” is a fictionalized recounting of a Bahraini-Jewish woman who played a significant role in developing Bahraini midwifery. The series is set in an unnamed Arabian Gulf town in the 1940s, and it shows how Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together as one community in relative harmony.
The show appears on Saudi television, and production involves Emiratis and Bahrainis. One of the consultants is a politician as well as the representative of the Bahraini Jewish community at the World Jewish Congress. This reality embodies huge progress and change on an international scale.
Proponents have highlighted the show as an embodiment of tolerance, while critics have attacked it as an example of normalization of relations with Israel at the expense of the Palestinian cause. What is more immediately apparent, and was once unheard of, is the basic humanity with which Jews are now shown. In the Middle East, such sensitivity has long been in short supply. Textbooks have long copied some of the worst age-old anti-Semitic tropes, claiming the goal of Zionism was a global Jewish government that would control the world. That is why this television series is so groundbreaking as it is trying to turn a new page in Muslim-Jewish relations.
Ronald Lauder says,wherever he goes,” one of the most popular references ( is ) the times described in “Um Haroun,” when Muslims and Jews lived together as neighbors and friends. It’s amazing that a TV show has led to a constructive dialogue and bridge building.”
In February, King Salman stated that it was a religious duty for Islam’s adherents and Jewish people to know one another and cooperate for the good of society. “This Ramadan, through “Um Haroun,” we see that the region is looking back to a neighborly era, a time when Jews were friends, not foes. This reality embodies amazing progress and change”, the article states.
“The prophecy of the ancient prophets is peace. The prophecy of Abraham is peace. The prophecy of Jesus is peace. The prophecy of Muhammad is peace. Humankind’s most fervent yearning is the yearning for peace.
“This new interconnected era in which we now find ourselves has turned our world into a small village where peace is possible. In the Middle East, which has lived with too much violence for far too long, peace is within reach and it could be starting with, of all things, a television show. “
( Image:Kuwaiti veteran actress Hayat al-Fahad pictured on the left in her Umm Haroun charachter, while real-life Jewish Bahraini midfire Umm Jaan pictured on the right.)