Palestinian activists consider the series a “blow” to people who support the Palestinian cause and the legitimate right of Palestinians.
Rabat – A group of Saudi Ramadan series aired on Saudi TV Group MBC have stirred backlash for promoting normalization with Israel.
“Umm Haroun” (Haroun’s Mother) and “Exit 7,” set to be broadcast throughout the month of Ramadan, angered Arabs who support the Palestinian cause. Pro-Palestinian viewers directed accusations at Saudi Arabia for cozying up to Israel.
The televised drama shows how Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has changed Saudi-Israeli relations.
In some episodes, Umm Haroun addresses the history and presence of Israelis in Gulf countries, narrating the story of a Jewish woman who lived in the Gulf in the 20th century.
Meanwhile, “Exit 7” discusses ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel and how Saudi people perceive the relationship. Comedy TV series “Exit 7” stars renowned Saudi actor Nasser Al Qasabi highlights the notable changes in Saudi Arabia’s vision towards its ties with Israel and how speaking about normalization with Israel is no longer a taboo.
One of the series episodes shows the reaction of a father, who discovered that his son made friends with an Israeli through an online game.
The relationship shows different reactions within the family. While the young man’s father was shocked, his grandfather accepted his relationship with the Israeli national.
Exit 7 also stirred backlash after one of the characters played by Saudi actor Rashid Al Hamrani claimed that he would be happy to do business with Israelis, arguing that Palestinians are the “real enemy for insulting” Saudi Arabia “day and night.”
The series might be a success for Israelis, whose ultimate goal is to normalize ties with Arab countries.
Benjamin Netanyahu has called for normalization with Arab countries, claiming that it could be the way to peace in the region.
“Many Arab countries now see Israel not as their enemy but as their indispensable ally in pushing back Iranian aggression,” Netanyahu said in 2018.
— Gabraielos ARB (@GabraielosA) April 28, 2020
Very interesting speech !
During this crisis ,Non muslims start accepting and appreciating muslims. While in some arab countries they still fight each other !
They still support the haters and invaders ..
Plz ppl read what is between the lines .#ام_هارون https://t.co/eou8PRLT3b
— Batool Nقira ???? (@BatoolNkira) April 27, 2020
The two series divided opinion among activists, public figures, and internet users, particularly on Twitter.
SHAME ON EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU! #مخرج_7
— ش.?? (@ShougMohammad_) April 26, 2020
“During this crisis, Non muslims start accepting and appreciating muslims. While in some arab countries they still fight each other ! They still support the haters and invaders .. Plz ppl [sic] read what is between the lines,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Shame on all of you,” wrote another Twitter user.
Renowned Syrian journalist Faisal El Qasem tweeted that the Saudi series “Exit 7, which shows normalization and defense for Israel “does not in any way turn against the kingdom’s historical position on Israel, but rather expresses it honestly, realistically and frankly for the first time without frills.”blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”>
المسلسل السعودي(مخرج 7) الذي يجاهر بالتطبيع والدفاع عن إسرائيل لا ينقلب مطلقاً على موقف المملكة التاريخي من إسرائيل، بل يعبر عنه بصدق وواقعية وصراحة لأول مرة بدون رتوش.هكذا كان موقف المملكة منذ عقود وعقود،لكنها كانت تخفيه لضرورة المرحلة، واليوم لم يعد هناك ضرورة فلا بأس من كشفه
— فيصل القاسم (@kasimf) April 28, 2020
The series also angered Palestinian politicians and activists.
Spokesperson of the Palestinian movement Hamas Hazem Qassem ststrongly condemned the series, stating that certain Arab dramas produced this year tend to “spread strange ideas that call for coexistence with the occupation, and dare to question the Palestinian cause.”
— TheSal (@TheSal17) April 26, 2020
He said that Israel is a “threat and will always remain the first enemy of the Arab nation.”
Spokesperson for the Islamic Jihad Movement, Musab Al Braim also condemned the dramas, saying they are a “historic blow” to all Arabs and Muslims.
“It reflected the mentality that governs the institutions and states behind such productions … it appears that they have been stripped of all their moral principles,” he said.
Chairman of the Government Press Office in Gaza Salama Maarouf also commented on the programs, stating that the call to normalize relations with Israel is a “moral and ethical downfall, especially since it came out of the countries and parties that should be primarily among the first advocates of Palestinian rights,” he said.
In addition to the dramas, several public figures in Saudi Arabia stirred controversy by calling for normalization with Israel.
Saudi journalist and public figure Abdelhamid al-Ghabin also sparked outrage on social media for promoting normalization.
The Saudi public figure claimed the Saudis refuse to deal with Palestinians.
He added that Saudis would prefer to work with Israelis
Al-Ghabin argued that after 20 years, “there will be overall peace” between Arab countries and Israel.
Al-Ghabin is not the only Saudi public figure to cause backlash for his pro-Israeli statements.
Saudi blogger Mohamed Saud has also stirred controversy through his videos, where he expresses love for Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.
In July 2019, Palestinians kicked the blogger out of the Al Aqsa compound in occupied East Jerusalem.
Several videos posted online show Palestinians insulting him and accusing him of being a traitor and a Zionist.
The blogger was part of a six-member Arab delegation of journalists hosted by the Israeli foreign ministry in an Israeli-sponsored trip.