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ERICKSON: Peace In The Middle East

ERICKSON: Peace In The Middle East
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, Foreign Affairs Minister of Bahrain Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, and Foreign Affairs Minister of the United Arab Emirates Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan wave from the Truman Balcony of the White House after the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House on September 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.
I have noted before that 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 down 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 No. 39 on 32b Street, Dubai, UAE. The only reason my house remained is because 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 Britannica had pages misses and redacted in the library. Phone calls could not connect from Israel to the UAE. It was as if there were no phone lines between the two. We could not travel to Israel, and I have still never been to Israel. We could not reenter the UAE with an Israeli 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; Bahrain has also recognized Israel, and Oman will, too.
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.
Barack Obama received the peace prize merely for showing up; President Donald Trump has exceeded that standard here. And, yes, Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize merely for showing up.
On Tuesday, after the historic meeting of the nations at the White House, most of the American media downplayed it. The websites at CNN, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and USA Today either did not mention the summit or minimized it. Reporters and pundits claimed that because Israel, Bahrain and the UAE had never been in a physical war, it was really no big deal.
The American media’s response shows an ignorance of how Arab nations have treated Israel, including redacting Israel from textbooks, barring travel between the nations, refusing aviation flyovers and blocking telecommunications channels. It reveals that many of those who cover the news and pontificate on it have not lived lives with much exposure to the real world.
Remember, the talking heads claimed moving the U.S. 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. On MSNBC, the loud voices opposed to Trump said Trump moving the embassy would get a lot of people killed and undermine peace in the Middle East. They were wrong and now claim there was always peace.
This is an enormous deal, and 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.

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