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How an Israeli Journalist May Have Torpedoed Israel-Saudi Relations

 

Harold Rhode

Dr. Rich Swier, July 25, 2022

“Tamari clearly had fun sneaking into Mecca. From a Muslim perspective, he and by extension all of Israel have undermined the Saudi regime.”

The Saudis authorized a group of Israeli reporters to come to Saudi Arabia to cover President Joe Biden’s visit last week. This was clearly another sign of the warming relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

It is in this context that we must understand how shameful it was for one of those Israeli journalists—Gil Tamari—to enter Mecca, film there and then tell the world by releasing videos of his visit. In doing so, this non-Muslim journalist committed a serious offense against Islam. As a result, we can expect Israel-Saudi relations to cool down for the foreseeable future.

Why is this so? According to Islamic law, only Muslims are allowed to enter Mecca. Non-Muslims who violate this prohibition are seen as religiously contaminating the holy city, and are therefore punished severely. Whatever non-Muslims might think, Muslims do not see the world as non-Muslims do. It is therefore hard to explain in Western terms how serious this transgression is and the extent to which it will set back Israel-Saudi relations.

The Saudis do not have a free press and, like others in the Muslim world, have great difficulty accepting that Western governments cannot rein in their journalists. Even Muslims who know the West well often have difficulty understanding this.

 

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