Bill Clinton early willed a peace at Camp David. He twisted Israel’s arm into offering more than 95% of the territory that Palestinians were asking for. This didn’t include sovereignty over East Jerusalem and it didn’t include a full ‘right of return’ allowing every Palestinian to re-enter Israel and reclaim ancestral property from current owners. Yasser Arafat rejected the deal. Arafat’s own domestic politics made it a non-starter.
Twenty years later we have the U.A.E. and Bahrain recognizing Israel, becoming only the third and fourth countries in the region to do so (after Egypt and Jordan). Saudi Arabia’s own domestic politics make it difficult for them to join in this group. However what’s changed to allow progress over the past two decades is the rise of an aggressive Iran. Israel is now an important strategic ally and counterbalance.
The United States, of course, played a significant role in bringing out public alignment of what these countries have been moving to for several years, and the President – and his son-in-law! – deserve some credit, even if how much credit is debatable.
National airlines have, for the most part, been more progressive than their countries in the region. There are usually no limits to drinking on Emirates or Etihad, for instance. Just don’t show up drunk and belligerent at immigration!
And while Jews haven’t been welcome on board Kuwait Airways, Emirates has actually served Kosher meals by pre-order. Now, in a sense that liberalization of relations with Israel is permanent, Emirates is setting up a Kosher food production facility.
El Al may have a new 26 year old owner but it’s Emirates that gains most from direct flights between the U.A.E. and Israel, because the Emirates global route network can take Israelis nearly anywhere they want to go.
Kosher Arabia should be up and running in January, and will serve Emirates as well as other airlines operating from Dubai. The Dubai-based carrier will no longer have to use a contract caterer to source Kosher meals. Emirates is even exploring opening Kosher restaurants both in Dubai and throughout the region.
For anyone not dedicated to the destruction of Israel, I think, this seems unambiguously a good thing – at least as long as Emirates doesn’t displace some of its fine wines with Manischewitz. They could even branch out into Kosher Chinese food, under the Shang Chai or Genghis Cohen’s brand.